Culture and Post-Cold Wart Era Essay Example

Culture and Post-Cold War Era

Institute

Introduction

Culture form an important aspect in defining the social identity of people and distinguishing one community group or social grouping from another. It primarily consists of a set of ideals, perceptions, conducts, ideologies, customs and norms that differentiate a society (Fischer, 2009). Culture biases greatly influences how one perceives the world, how one react to different situations and how one interact with others and it impacts and reflects the ideals and attitudes of the members of a society.

The modern world which is characterized by globalization, increased exchange of information and knowledge and advancement in technology, has shrunk into one global village and has therefore integrated varied cultures. It becomes virtually impossible for multinational companies and even economies to operate singly or under a platform of one culture has necessitated greater cross cultural exchanges.

According to Hofstede, different people from different nations have distinct national cultures that are unique to them and an organization seeking to penetrate into a new national culture needs to align its organizational culture with existing national culture to accelerate acceptance from the locals, enhance effective communication and establish loyalty, which are all vital for the success of a multinational organization (Kalman, 2009). There are specific elements of culture that determines how members of a social grouping with similar culture interact and communicate with one another which includes language, social structure, and religion and communication system.

Important to note is that there is no right or wrong culture. In the recent past especially after the cold war, cultural dimensions have taken a great new meaning as they influence how the international community and both developed and developing nations present themselves, how they voice their opinions and how they relate in addressing global issues (Grim & Finke, 2007). This report seeks to define culture and analyze why culture and culture differences has become important considerations in the post Cold War era.

What is culture?

There are varied definitions to culture but all the definitions primarily agree that culture constitutes the shared and learnt overt and implied patterns of human behavior encompassing goals, ideals, practices and attitudes communicated through symbols, artifacts and signs. As noted by Kalman (2009), through culture, varied social groupings derive their identity which distinguishes them from others that ranges from their accents, language, and mode of dressing, religion, beliefs, values, perceptions and attitudes.

Why culture and culture differences has become important consideration in the post-Cold War era

The Cold War

The Cold War was a period that lasted from late 1940s and lasted until 1991 which was characterized by political tension, military tension, economic rivalry, political propagandas and proxy wars between the Soviet Union and the United States and their allies respectively (Hopkins, 2007). The war was ignited and sustained by conflict between political approaches and ideologies of communism which was exercised by the Soviets and Socialism and capitalism practiced by the Westerners. The two rivals could not afford to go into direct military combat because it would destroy them both and they were just recovering from the after effects of the Second World War and so they resorted to war camouflaged in military coalitions, supporting opposing sides in warring nations, espionage, races in nuclear arms production, appealing to neutral nations, competition in innovations in technology such as technology relating to Space explorations and tactical force deployments among other ways (Hopkins, 2007).

Relevance of culture and cultural post Cold War Era

As the war ended, new cultural issues emerged in the global arena as focus was no longer focused on political and military issues but on cultural ones as economic and cultural dimensions took center stage. The period after the cold war can be seen as a shift in paradigm internationally as culture reigned supreme over ideology which was predominant before and during the Cold War where culture overtook the state as a refuge for citizenship and loyalty (Lapid & Kratochwill, 1996). In fact, culture greatly impacted decisions and choices made by the state in regards to international matters. A notable factor that can explain the enhanced importance given to culture and culture difference in post Cold War era is that before and during the Cold War, cultural disparities between the West who are predominantly affiliated to Christianity and the Arab/ Asian World affiliated with Islam did not exist. The main differences that existed at the time were not of cultural nature but consisted of political differences and ideologies of the liberals, capitalists and socialists (Grim & Finke, 2007).

When the war finally came to a halt, differences in ideologies decreased and paved way for cultural differences where the Western world went into attack targeting the non-European societies whose cultures based on the Western cultural platform was uncivilized if not barbaric in regards to religion, traditions, customs, education and trade. These cultural dissimilarities has spiraled into the international arena as the Western world seeks to modernize or civilize the non-European societies and the non-European World revolting the efforts as there seemingly is a thin line between westernization and modernization (Huntington, 1997). The conflict is an attempt by either side to love what they are since, unless they can hate what they are not, they simply cannot love what they are.

Among historical events and incidents that illustrates the increasing importance of culture and culture differences after the Cold War include the Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Iranian and the Afghan Wars where the underlying element of the wars was a search for cultural and religious identity as the warring parties sought to defend their beliefs, values and attitudes.  Gender is a cultural issue and as societies have become more globalized, the significance of gender equality as a cultural component has engulfed political, religious, social and economic platforms as women mobilize support to be heard and have equal access to quality life, education and sustainable development (Lapid & Kratochwill, 1996). Cultural differences have emerged in relation to gender since some societies have not been so eager and accommodating to observe women rights and foster gender equality. This has been seen more clearly in African, Asian and majority of Islamic societies, where women are yet to get a voice (Mustafa 2004).

The clash in civilizations, broadening gap in advancement in technology and the enhanced impact of globalization post the Cold War are merely some of the factors that has increased the importance placed on culture and cultural differences after the war.

According to (Grim & Finke, 2007), the widening conflict between scientific assumptions and religion, which is the core to culture has generated intense criticism for either which has generated two cultural divides between those who believe in science and those that believe in religion (Murden 1999).

New challenges encountered post the Cold War such as terrorism, environmental degradation and global financial and economic meltdowns has meant that different societies and economies have had no option but to rise over and above their cultural differences by identifying effective ways of communicating and understanding each in developing an implementing mutually agreeable foreign policies, international business regulations, environmental standards and forming strategic partnerships (Lapid & Kratochwill, 1996). This is essential in combating global terrorism, developing sustainable environment, shelving economies against economic collapses and more importantly enhancing global economic growth. International companies have benefited greatly by tapping into cultural differences by learning from varied cultural experiences and practices to enhance performance and productivity (Ferguson and Richard 1996).

In regards to the issue of terrorism witnessed post Cold War, it is not as much a revolt against political powers and systems but more of a cultural revolt associated with religious beliefs and principles against societies that have or are perceived to have a different cultural or religious perceptions and principles. Intangible elements of culture such as religion plays a significant role in modern day politics as it dominates how societies define themselves and is a core aspect of civilization (Grim & Finke, 2007).

According to (Huntington, 1997), after the cold war, societies began to alter their identities and symbols of those identities as witnessed in the adornment of flags, crosses and head gears among others which has to date, signified what is most important to majority of people. The balance of power has shifted post the Cold War with Asian modernization increasing in might while the influence of the Western world dwindling.

Similarly, Asian and Islamic world has tremendously grown in terms of economic wealth with economies such as China, Japan and the Middle East exerting much influence in global politics, security and economic growth. Important to note is that disparities in economic and political development among different global civilization are founded in their varied cultures (Huntington, 1997).

Conclusion

Every aspect of a person’s life is influenced by culture. Culture is defined as shared and learnt overt and implied set of ideals, perceptions, conducts, ideologies, customs and norms that are communicated through symbols, artifacts and signs and are vital in distinguishing members of a community from others. Culture defines one’s identity and is the core determinant of human behavior, ideals, perceptions, beliefs, practices and attitudes. Culture and cultural differences as highlighted in the report have become important considerations after the Cold War due to varied reasons ranging from a shift from ideological differences to cultural dissimilarities, conflict of religious principles with philosophical assumptions, clash of civilizations and merging new global threats such as environmental crises, global economic and financial downturns and terrorism among others.

References

Ferguson, Y. H. and Richard W. M. (1996). Polities: Authority, Identities, and Change. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1996.

Fischer, R. (2009). Where is culture in cross cultural Research? An outline of a multilevel research process for measuring culture as a shared meaning system. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, Vol 9, No.1, pp 25-49

Grim, B.J., & Finke, R. (2007). Religious persecution in Cross-National Context: Clashing civilizations or regulated religious economies? American Sociological Review, Vol. 72, No 4, pp 633-658

Hopkins, M. F. (2007). Continuing Debate and New Approaches in Cold War History. Historical Journal, Vol. 50, Issue 4, pp 913–934.

Huntington, S.P. (1997). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. Boston: Simon & Schuster.

Kalman, B. (2009). What is culture? London: Crabtree Publishing Company.

Lapid, Y. & Kratochwill, F. (1996). The return of Culture and identity in international relations theory. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Murden, S. (1999). «Cultural Conflict in International Relations: The West and Islam.» The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. Eds. John Baylis and Steve Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 374–389.

Mustafa, N. (2004). Reidentifying the Political: A View From Within the Field of International Relations. Cairo: Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University.