Chapter 16 Global Challenges,Local Responses, andthe Role of Anthropology
Chapter Outline • What can anthropologists tell us of the future? • What are today’s cultural trends? • What problems must be solved for humans to have a viable future?
Anthropologists Contribution to the Study of the Future of Humanity • Anthropologists see things in context. • They have a long-term historical perspective and recognize culture bound biases. • Anthropologists are concerned with the tendency to treat traditional societies as obsolete when they appear to stand in the way of “development.”
Multiculturalism • An policy of mutual respect and tolerance for cultural differences. • Ethnic tension, common in pluralistic societies, sometimes turns violent, leading to formal separation. • To manage cultural diversity within such societies, some countries have adopted multiculturalism as an official public policy.
Global Corporations • Their power and wealth, often exceeding that of national governments, has increased dramatically through media expansion. • Megacorporations have enormous influence on the ideas and behavior of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. • States and corporations compete for scarce natural resources, cheap labor, new commercial markets, and ever-larger profits in a political arena that spans the entire globe.
Structural power • The global forces that direct economic and political institutions and shape public ideas and values. • Hard power is backed up by economic and military force. • Soft power is ideological persuasion. • The world’s largest corporations are almost all based in a small group of wealthy states, which dominate international trade and finance organizations.
Globalization and Corporations • Globalization provides megaprofits for large corporations but wreaks havoc in traditional cultures. • Globalization is marketed as positive for everyone, but the poor are becoming poorer and the rich richer. • Globalization engenders worldwide resistance against superpower domination. • For this reason, the emerging world system is unstable, vulnerable, and unpredictable.
Results of Globalization • Worldwide and growing structural violence-physical and/or psychological harm: • Repression • cultural and environmental destruction • Poverty • hunger and obesity • illness, and premature death • Caused by exploitative and unjust social, political, and economical systems.
A Sustainable Future • Dramatic changes in cultural values and motivations, as well as in social institutions and the types of technologies we employ, are required if humans are going to realize a sustainable future. • Shortsighted emphasis on consumerism and individual self-interest needs to be abandoned in favor of a more balanced social and environmental ethic.
Pollution and Over Population • A direct threat to humanity. • Western societies have protected their environment only when a crisis warranted. • Many of the world’s developing countries have policies for population growth that conflict with other policies. • Even with replacement reproduction, the population would continue to grow for 50 years.