Cultural incursion of West into Pakistani Elite society

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1st Jan 1970 Sociology Reference this

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1.1 Background

Culture is a broad term which has been described by various philosophers since decades. It has been claimed by Raymond Williams to be “…one of the two or three most complicated words in English language” (Williams, 1976). Different definitions of the term, culture may have distinct descriptive ways and criterion to evaluate human activity. Culture is a word stemming from a Latin word ‘culture’ which means to cultivate (Harper, 2008). It is defined by Findley and Rothney as, “systems of symbols and meanings that even their creator contest, which lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another” (Findley & Rothney, 2006). The authors describe culture to be a system of symbols having blurred boundaries. The curx however is to see how do we recognize these systems of symbols? The answer to this question is provided by Williams who says that culture can be judged or embedded in music, literature, lifestyle, painting and sculpture, theater and film and similar things (Williams, 1976). These dimensions are common to all cultures. In the foreface of the rapid globalization and the interaction in the past, these dimensions of various cultures are often influenced by each other. The following study discusses the influence of the dimensions of western culture to the respective dimensions of the Pakistani culture.

Cultural penetration is the practice of promoting, distinguishing, separating, or artificially injecting the culture or language of one culture into another. Cultural penetration can take the form of general attitude as well. In this study, the focus has been on the Western culture being penetrated inside Pakistani culture. Elements of Western culture have had a very influential role on other cultures worldwide. People of many cultures, both Western and non-Western, equate modernization (adoption of technological progress) with westernization (adoption of Western culture). Westernization can be defined as a process whereby societies come under or adopt the Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet, religion or values. Westernization has been a pervasive and accelerating influence across Pakistan in the last few centuries. It is usually a two-sided process, in which western influences and interests themselves are joined by a wish of at least parts of the affected society to change towards a more westernized society, in the hope of attaining western life or some aspects of it.

Increasing globalization has increased the influence of Western culture in Pakistan, especially among the affluent, which have easy access to Western products, television, media, and food. Many Western food chains have established themselves in Pakistan, and are found in the major cities. In cities western dress is also popular among the youth and the business sector. Families do not share the same family time together and are very much sensitive about their privacy. Obsession with English is so much that many Pakistanis, who speak and write English well, are unable to understand Urdu.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The study aims to identify the factors behind the cultural penetration of West in Pakistani élite society

It has been observed that people of Pakistani society feel pride in exercising westernized culture and tradition. They are being deviated from their own cultural norms and are adopting a more westernized approach. The main role played in increasing such behavior is because of the media, which is spreading the norms of the west. Pakistani society’s lifestyles, family relations, dressing, education has changed drastically and is not what it used to be some years back.

1.3 Purpose of the problem

The study aims towards the factors which plays an important role in the influence of western culture into Pakistani culture.

1.4 Research Question

What are the main factors behind cultural penetration of west which are influencing Pakistan’s élite society?

1.5 Justification of the problem

The study can give awareness to the people of our society about conserving Pakistani culture; about how it plays an important role in making them united and unified. It can help people to understand the urgency to preserve Pakistani culture by providing a documented form of material that highlights the good and bad effects of adopting western culture. Furthermore, it teaches the immature people, to realize the importance of Pakistani culture. Fundamentally, culture makes use of artifacts and rituals to pass on notions of identity, which is observed to be missing in the élite class of our Pakistani society.

1.6 Limitations

Being full time students, it was hard for the researchers to arrange for meetings, as the time schedule was different for each member. The researchers were required to submit the report within a limited span of time because of which study had to be concluded within the time allowed. Most significantly researcher found shortage of time in skimming or composing the draft as they were indulge in other academic activities as well.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

Culture is the knowledge, customs, beliefs, and way of life of a group of people. Culture is represented through the art, literature, costumes, customs and traditions of a community. Different cultures exist in different parts of the world. The natural environment greatly affects the lifestyle of the people of that region, thus shaping their culture (Manali Oak, November 15 2008)

Cultural impact are the effects on individual and society on their lifestyle, language, traditions and education from surrounding environment which includes their sources of information and how it influences them is.

Culture is a bond that ties the people of a region or community together. It is that one common bond, which brings the people of a community together. The customs and traditions that the people of a community follow, the festivals they celebrate, the kind of clothing they wear, the food they eat, and most importantly, the cultural values they adhere to, bind them together. (Manali Oak, November 15 2008)

Cultures are internally affected by both forces encouraging change and forces resisting change. These forces are related to both social structures and natural events, and are involved in the perpetuation of cultural ideas and practices within current structures, which themselves are subject to change.

Social conflict and the development of technologies can produce changes within a society by altering social dynamics and promoting new cultural models, and spurring or enabling generative action. These social shifts may accompany ideological shifts and other types of cultural change. For example, people observing western culture through media and than exercising or implementing those observations in their lives. Cultures are externally affected via contact between societies, which may also produce – or inhibit – social shifts and changes in cultural practices (Gaëlle Sévenier)

Most prominently, western influence is observed to be seen in the Pakistani elite society. Their complete lifestyle and mentality is of the west and they, in no manner represent to be Pakistani because of which Pakistan ruling elite have started creating a cultural vacuum by undermining indigenous cultures and languages (Dr Manzur Ejaz).

The influence of west on the elite society is mainly being transferred through media. Media is playing a very vital role in showing the western culture, which is seemingly very attractive. There cannot be two opinions on the deep, lasting and widespread impact of media on the masses. Being an agent of socio-political, economic and cultural change in our age, media can disrupt a society or can stabilize and strengthen a society (Muhammad Abbas, 2003). The elite families of Pakistan can also afford to live such a life which is full of westernized style and culture. They are moving away from their own culture and feel ashamed of being Pakistani.

Muhammad Abbas (2003) have stated that there is a need to strengthen our socio-cultural and ideological foundations was never as great as it is today. There is cultural invasion from the West and Cable TV networks. Our values are being attacked and are in danger. Media must build our confidence and faith in our values. It must create a pride in our glorious past, our culture and our way of living. Pakistan has a tremendous potential and has a status in international community especially it has high stature among the Muslim countries. We have mat beautiful normative and social value structure, which needs to be preserved, promoted and strengthened.

Muhammad Abbas (2003) also emphasizes that media, is in fact, a mirror of society which can remove negative spots in Pakistani elite society, by showing its face in this mirror. Thus media can play a diagnostic role in pointing out the negative tendencies and suggest ways and means to counter such tendencies. Media can stabilize or destabilize a society or a country and Pakistani elite society cannot be an exception. Pakistani elite families are at crossroads and in transition. The society and Pakistani culture are threatened. Their patterns of life are changing because of education and media impact and this change has to be facilitated in a positive manner.

The elite families in Pakistan live a life which is closely similar to western families. For example, the concept of family is different in West compared to other Asian countries. Most western families consist of a mother and a father with an average of 1-3 children. It is very common in most families that both the mother and father are employed full time and are at work while their children are at school or a daycare facility. Same is the case with the elite families in Pakistan. The children are used to living alone and independently without their parents at home.

Gaëlle Sévenier (2004) has stated that the spread of American culture goes through every communication medium. The rise of English as an international language of trade and politics has been one of the strongest vehicles for the transmission of American culture. While the forces leading to the rise of an international language differ greatly from cultural imperialism, it would be difficult to separate the two. As English becomes a global language, it becomes clear that language and culture cannot be separated.

The AP National Writer journalist Anthony Ted (2004) says every one from the French to the Indonesians worry that where English goes, America will follow. Scholars Nye and Owen (2004) admitted that it is the goal of the United States to have English as the international language.

It is in the economic and political interests of the United States to ensure that, if the world is moving to a common language, it be English. According to them, not only it is intentional, but also it is a “developing reality.” This spread of values language, and information is purely because of economic and political interest for the United States, the well-being of other cultures and their freedom of expression are not taken into consideration except instrumentally – can they be bought and sold for a profit or can they be used to political advantage – to the profit and advantage of the US. Daily times (2008) stated that in Pakistan, government-funded institutions are Urdu-medium, traditional culturally and have English as a separate subject. Private institutions use English as a medium of instruction and mostly follow Western traditions in teaching and rules. These two types also reflect differences in the socio-economic level of students with the former representing the lay population and the latter representing the upper social class. In short Pakistani elite society feels pride in speaking English rather than Urdu as their daily life language.

When looking at the educational sector, Daily Times Monitor (2007) reviewed that government funded institutions are Urdu-medium, traditional culturally and have English as a separate subject. Private institutions use English as a medium of instruction and mostly follow Western traditions in teaching and rules. These two types also reflect differences in the socio economic level of students with the former representing the lay population and the latter representing the upper social or elite class.

It was expected that the Pakistani females from the upper social class would be comparable to the Caucasian females in their body image attitudes (because of being more exposed to Western culture), whereas the middle or lay class Pakistani females would express more positive attitudes towards their bodies than these two groups. The sample comprised 149 Australian, 145 Pakistani Urdu-medium and 142 Pakistani.

Body shape and unhealthy eating attitudes, which were once thought to be wholly confined to Western women, have emerged among non-Western populations. The attitudes towards body shape and weight prevailing in the West seem to be non-existent or uncommon in other cultures until such cultures begin to adopt the values of Western cultures. The results also indicate that the traditional standards of beauty among young Pakistani females of upper socio-economic groups are being replaced by what is attractive in Western terms. In view of increasing globalization, it is difficult to predict the extent of the future influence of Western culture on these Eastern cultures and their lifestyles.

Journalist S.M. Hussain states that the elite families together represent the heart of Pakistan’s ruling class. It may be instructive to paint a typical picture of such a family – education begins at English language schools, graduating with British qualifications such as O Levels and A Levels. Thereafter, one can go off to college abroad or at a top local university. Families usually have at least some relatives living abroad. Career choices include the armed forces, good civilian jobs at top organizations (gotten through family connections).

Daily times (2008) states that in view of increasing globalization, it is difficult to predict the extent of the future influence of Western culture on these Eastern cultures and their lifestyles. Due to excessive western influence, the Pakistanis have opened themselves up. Zainykhas (2009) states that the excessive Americanization has wiped off the typical Pakistani culture. The extended and nectar family system, a hall mark of Pakistani culture, has slowly died away, especially amongst the elite classes, who are more exposed to the American ways and lifestyle. The young generation seldom cares for the old parents and so, sadly, old age houses have been established. The number of practicing Muslims has decreased. Nowadays far less number goes to mosques than it did a decade back. The meal preferences have changed from Chapatti and rice to Subway, KFC and McDonalds. Instead of traditional drinks, Pepsi and coke have penetrated the homes.

Faisal. K (2007, The News) states that perhaps it is some colonial chip we still carry on our shoulder, which focuses us to acknowledge all things west as cool and hip. Perhaps we are still so much in awe of the white man that we cannot even see their faults and our own virtues. Whatever it may be, Pakistani elite society is rapidly turning into a cell phone crazy, IPod hugging, wild eyed bunch of commercial zombies who run and adopt every idiotic trend that comes from the west with utmost glee. Its not as if its just one area of the city that is affected by this madness, day by day it is seen that the entire place divided into little elite clutches of people, the have’s and the have not’s. It should be asked how one defines these separations, well its quite easy, the have’s seem to roam about this city as if it is their own personal jungle… turning up their nose at any have not they encounter on the way. They drive the latest cars, jabber away on the latest cell phones and wear only Italian designer clothes. No matter, if they do not even know how to pronounce the designers name properly. Hence we are a race of people with a culture that spans generations of grandeur, yet we want to throw all that away just for a cozy little niche in our minds which tells us, make hay while the sun shines and to hell with the rest of it.

As a Grande Strategy, it is believed that the fundamental battle taking place in Pakistani elite society is between the secular and western-based educated pro-American elites. This westernization could eventually lead to the collapse of the established elite in Pakistan (S.M. Hussain). Hence the Pakistani ruling elite played a very shrewd but self-defeating cynical game.

Chapter 3

3.1 Introduction

This chapter comprises of research method which is adopted by the researchers throughout the research. It tells about the data collection technique and the instrument being used; the research design; the target population; the size of the sample and the data analysis.

3.2 Research Method

Research methodology consists of three different methods: mixed, qualitative and quantitative. Researchers adopt them according to the nature of the variables they have identified.

This research is based on quantitative approach. Quantitative methods are research techniques that are used to gather quantitative data – information dealing with numbers and anything that is measurable. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships (Wikipedia)

This method best suits the objective of research because it provides researchers with descriptive and hard data on numbers of people exhibiting certain behaviors, attitudes etc. It provides information in breadth and allows the researchers to sample large number of population. We adopted this approach because it will provide us with appropriate data related to the factors behind the west penetration in the Pakistani élite society (Wikipedia)

3.3 Research Design

In quantitative method there are three designs; exploratory design, descriptive design and explanatory design.

Researchers have used descriptive design which is based on cross-sectional method. Descriptive research design is a scientific method which involves observing and describing the behavior of a subject without influencing it in any way. It is planned to gain more information about a particular attribute within a particular field of study. It is also used to study or develop theory, identify problems with current practice, justify current practice, make judgments or identify what others in similar situations may be doing. This study describes the important factors which are playing a significant role in bringing change to the mentality and lifestyle of the Pakistani elite society.

3.4 Population and Sampling

Target population of the research is the elite class of Karachi, out of which the sample size is of 75 individuals. The technique adopted by the researchers is random sampling. According to David M. Lane in random sampling, each item or element of the population has an equal chance of being chosen at each draw. A sample is random if the method for obtaining the sample meets the criterion of random (each element having an equal chance at each draw).

3.5 Data Collection

Survey method will be used to collect data and questionnaires will be used as research instrument. According to (Saunders, 2003) questionnaire can be used for descriptive and explanatory research. Descriptive research helps to identify and describe the variability in different phenomena through attitude, opinion and questionnaire of organizational practices. He further explains that there are two types of questionnaires, self-administered and interviewer administered. Self-administered questionnaires can be sent and returned by using the email or Internet. Interviewer administered questionnaires are recorded by the interviewer. In this research we have used Interviewer administered questionnaires.

3.6 Data Analysis

The statistical software of SPSS 13.0 will be used. Various techniques and formulas will be applied to get the result.

3.7 Reliability and validity

The validity of the study was checked by the researchers from their own understanding and perspectives.

The reliability was verified by the researchers through SPSS 13.0. According to Cronbach’s alpha, the reliability score must be from 0.7 to 1.0. The table below shows the reliability test where the score is 0.77, therefore the reliability of the instrument is acceptable and concludes that the instrument is reliable to be used in the survey. Therefore, further research can be operated on the same instrument.

Table no. 3.1 Reliability Statistics

Cronbach’s Alpha

Cronbach’s Alpha Based on Standardized Items

N of Items

.771

.805

25

3.8 Pilot Study

The aim of the pilot study was to determine the possible problems that might occur during the design and instruments. Moreover, it was to make the researchers gain experiences, as they were involved, for the first time, in a project.

A detailed and comprehensive pilot study was conducted. The purpose of pilot study was to check the validity & reliability of the research design and instrument. The result of pilot study was successful, which does not suggest any changes in the instrument. Therefore, those participants were also included in the main study.

3.9 Ethical Considerations

In planning and conducting research, as well as in reporting research findings, experimenter shave to fulfill several obligations in order to meet the ethical standards set forth by the APA. First, the research project must be planned so that the chance for misleading results is minimized. Second, the project must be planned so that it meets ethical acceptability. Any doubts the researcher may have regarding questionable ethical procedures or methods must be resolved through peer review or through consultation with appropriate parties. Third, steps must be taken to protect and ensure the dignity and welfare of all participants, as well as those who may be affected by the results of the research project. Researchers are also responsible for conducting themselves ethically and for treating the participants in an ethical manner at all times. Ethical researchers do not fabricate or falsify data in their publications. If the experimenter discovers that the data published are erroneous, it is the experimenter’s responsibility to correct the error through retraction, an addendum, or other appropriate means. In addition, ethical researchers do not present the work of others as their own, or do not fail to give appropriate credit for the work of others through citations.

Chapter 4

4.1 Introduction

In this chapter the statistical software of SPSS was used to analyze the data. The technique of descriptive statistics (frequencies) was used to find out the demographic details of the respondents. Descriptive analysis is reported using mean, median, and mode, maximum and minimum respective to the type of statistical test. Moreover, the test of factor analysis was used to find out the factors responsible for cultural penetration of west influencing Pakistan’s élite society. There were 75 questionnaires filled by the respondents and on the basis of those questionnaires the data analysis was concluded.

All statistical analysis was performed with SPSS 13.0.

4.2 Demographic Statistics

In demographic statistics age, gender and occupation was analyzed.

4.2.1 Gender

The sample size was of 75 persons, out of which 34 were female, which represents 45.3% of the total population. And 41 were male, who are 54.7% of the total population. The details of the analysis are generated below in the table no. 4.1:

Table no. 4.1 Gender

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Female

34

45.3

45.3

45.3

Male

41

54.7

54.7

100.0

Total

75

100.0

100.0

4.2.2 Age

Statistical analysis of frequencies was conducted and the table is generated below. As it shows that the age is dispersed from 18 to 62. Out of this range majority of the respondents lie in the age group of 20 to 26, this shows that 60% of the population is youth. The details of the analysis are generated below in the figure no. 4.2:

Figure no. 4.1 Age

4.2.3 Occupation

The statistical analysis shows that the majority of the representatives were students comprising 52% of the total population. Secondly, there were service providers who include accountants, bankers, designers and web developers having 24% in the whole population. The details of the analysis are generated below in the table no. 4.2 and figure 4.2:

Table no. 4.2 Occupation

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

student

39

52.0

52.0

52.0

Businessman

10

13.3

13.3

65.3

Doctor

6

8.0

8.0

73.3

Housekeeper

2

2.7

2.7

76.0

Service Provider

18

24.0

24.0

100.0

Total

75

100.0

100.0

Figure no. 4.2 Occupation

4.3 Factor Analysis

Table no. 4.3

Component Matrix

Component

 

Western Incursion

Media & Westernization

Self Identity

Culture is a bond that ties the people of a region or community together.

0.49

Do westernization play any role in wiping off Pakistani culture?

-0.50

I have observed that media has adopted western approaches to a greater extent.

0.61

The natural environment greatly affects the lifestyle of the people thus shaping their culture

0.47

Is Pakistani elite society being affected by any other culture?

0.48

The elite families have complete lifestyle and mentality of the west.

0.49

Is media to be blamed for western influence in the society?

0.44

Is the elite society of Pakistan moving away from their own culture?

0.41

Do elite families feel pride in exercising the westernized lifestyle?

0.53

Is the educational sector of Pakistan affected by the western culture?

0.47

Does the Pakistani elite society feel pride in speaking English rather than Urdu as their common language?

0.56

Pakistani families are at modification due to western media.

0.48

The children are living alone and independently without their parents at home in Pakistani society. Can this be called a western influence?

0.61

Having fewer children in family is also adopted from the western culture?

0.61

The meal preferences have changed from Chapatti and rice to Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds. Is this divergence from our culture?

0.54

Instead of traditional drinks, Pepsi and coke has penetrated the homes of our society.

0.56

Do Pakistanis acknowledge all things of west as cool and hip?

0.64

Are Pakistani females from the upper social class comparable to the Western females in their dressing?

0.48

I have observed that Pakistani family systems are much more focused on individualism now days then collectivism.

-0.58

Do you feel that it is the goal of the western culture to have English as the international language?

0.49

Is the educational sector of Pakistan following the western approach in their teachings?

4.3.1 Western Incursion

Table no. 4.4

SA

A

N

D

SD

The natural environment greatly affects the lifestyle of the people thus shaping their culture

41.3%

53.3%

2.7%

2.7%

Is Pakistani elite society being affected by any other culture?

33.3%

48.0%

10.7%

8.0%

The elite families have complete lifestyle and mentality of the west.

21.3%

46.7%

25.3%

6.7%

Is media to be blamed for western influence in the society?

29.3%

50.0%

20.0%

Is the elite society of Pakistan moving away from their own culture?

37.3%

40.0%

16.0%

5.3%

1.3%

Do elite families feel pride in exercising the westernized lifestyle?

28.0%

41.3%

24.0%

5.3%

1.3%

Is the educational sector of Pakistan affected by the western culture?

9.3%

40.0%

30.7%

18.7%

1.3%

Does the Pakistani elite society feel pride in speaking English rather than Urdu as their common language?

34.7%

44.0%

14.7%

5.3%

1.3%

Pakistani families are at modification due to western media.

16.0%

45.3%

28.0%

10.7%

The children are living alone and independently without their parents at home in Pakistani society. Can this be called a western influence?

28.0%

34.7%

13.3%

21.3%

2.7%

Having fewer children in family is also adopted from the western culture?

17.3%

25.3%

22.7%

28.0%

6.7%

The meal preferences have changed from Chapatti and rice to Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds. Is this divergence from our culture?

25.3%

33.3%

16.0%

24.0%

1.3%

Instead of traditional drinks, Pepsi and coke has penetrated the homes of our society.

30.7%

42.7%

14.7%

12.0%

Do Pakistanis acknowledge all things of west as cool and hip?

21.3%

40.0%

26.7%

10.7%

1.3%

Majority of the respondents believe that there is greater western incursion nowadays which lies from media to lifestyle and from language to educational and family system in Pakistani elite society. 94% of the respondents agree to the fact that the environment people live in greatly affects their lifestyle and hence shaping their culture. Out of them 41.3% strongly agree to the statement. Pakistani culture is being intruded by other cultures and the gateway to these intrusions is media; therefore it’s causing people to divert from their own cultural norms and crossing boundaries where other cultural territory begins. 79% of the participants agree to this fact where 29% strongly agree to it. These people not only are practicing the new culture but are also feeling proud in portraying such acts and behaviors. 69% of the respondents agree with this situation occurring in the society. The life segment being affe

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