Globalization is an inescapable and ever-expanding conceit, which seems to be considered synonymous with modern-day existence. As if in opposition to the notions of diversity and tolerance, ethnocentrism has emerged. Thus, a citizen of the United States, for example, might assume that their lifestyle and traditions are superior than those preferred by people from other countries. Ethnocentrism relies on the human pre-disposition to gravitate towards something, which is already familiar. Therefore, when a cultural practice does not fit the norm a person is accustomed to, the initial response is to reject and oppose anything foreign. The social aspect this paper is going to focus on is gender roles and their representations in the United States and various Middle Eastern countries. The purpose of the essay is to examine the concept of cultural relativism using the cultural practice of arranged marriage. While the discussion has the potential to move into a more politicized direction, this paper will center exclusively on the practice of arranged marriage as a cultural phenomenon, which is attributed primarily to Islamic nations.
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The Basis of the American Worldview
The issue an American might have with arranged marriage stems from the existing laws protecting human rights. These regulations imply that the act of a forced marriage is not only illegal but anti-justice as well (Bhandary, 2017). Apart from the political foundations of a disdain an American might have for the practice of arranged marriage, there is an array of cultural implications. Firstly, the United States is one of the nations, which prides itself on a perfectly constructed set of values it possesses, including diversity, liberty, equality, and many others. Thus, the practice of arranged marriage can be considered inhumane as of strips both the groom and the bride of their autonomy and personal freedom as an individual.
Individualism versus Family Values
Secondly, the Western world has adopted the individualistic worldview, which puts an individual above all else, prioritizing personal happiness and well-being. On the other hand, the Middle East is a region shaped by its loyalty to the traditions of serving one’s family and community at large. Thus, it makes sense why the cultural practice of arranged marriage fits into the society of an Islamic nation. For a freedom-loving American, arranged marriage as an obligation to a family may seem as a horror scenario only because the Western worldview prioritizes self-centered pursuits. Furthermore, research proves time and time again how harmful forced marriages are to one’s mental health and an overall marital experience (Bunker & Narayan, 2016). For Americans, mental well-being has become an important aspect of a balanced life, which is another reason why the concept of an arranged marriage might be rejected en masse by the U.S. population.
In conclusion, it is apparent that ethnocentrism shapes the relationships between different countries and cultures. When it comes to the practice of arranged marriage in a variety of predominately Islamic countries in the Middle East, Americans have a hard time trying to justify it. The primary reasons for the lack of acceptance are the notions of autonomy and freedom engraved in the mindsets of the majority of Americans. Furthermore, recently popularized cultural trends in the United States, which are mostly self-serving, stand in opposition with the notion of family honor and obligation held to such a high regard in the Middle Eastern societies.
Bhandary, A. (2017). Arranged marriage: Could it contribute to justice? Journal of Political Philosophy, 26(2), 193–215. Web.
Bunker, L. N., & Narayan, V. (2016). Sexual satisfaction and marital adjustment among love matched marriage and arranged marriage couples. International Research Journal of Human Resources and Social Sciences, 3(1). Web.