I was born and raised in Azerbaijan and currently I live in Texas, United States. Geographically Azerbaijan is located where East meets West, therefore it is not surprising that the culture in Azerbaijan has been influenced by Western and Eastern set of values. I’ve always believed that Azerbaijan has a very unique culture compared to other countries that share the same demographics and religion with it. To the outside world the Azerbaijan culture may seem very modern and Westernized however if one spends considerable amount of time living in Azerbaijan they will realize that the culture in this country is rather conservative. The culture in Azerbaijan has been considerably shaped due to globalization especially during the last two decades.
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The population of Azerbaijan consists of one racial group leaving very little space for diversity. People that are different race that reside in Azerbaijan are from foreign countries and speak a foreign language. Therefore Azerbaijani’s are not very open minded and are not used to being around people that are different than them. Discriminating different races or cultures is considered something acceptable due to lack of exposure to other cultures.
In addition to the social circumstances of Azerbaijan acts as a major influence on Azerbaijani society, morals and values. Islam is practiced by 90% of the population and controls every aspect of a person’s life. Market exchanges and great religious associations integrate the social system of Islam, and although Islam is the core influence on the life of Azerbaijanis. I was born into a Muslim family and I still practice Islam. I believe the reason behind the conservative nature of Azerbaijani culture is that religion is still taking very seriously in this area.
Every culture has negative and positive aspects to it. One of the positive aspects of my culture is that families are very close to each other and are always there for each other. I like and admire this about my culture. However, there is a downside, which is that there is a very little sense of privacy. Everyone always wants to know everything about each other’s personal life and they feel that they are entitled to know what’s going on in other people’s personal lives. In other words there is no respect for privacy and I find this to be quiet embarrassing about my culture. Living in the United States has exposed me to a lot of new things including different social norms. One thing that I really admire about the culture here is how people are professional and organized. I believe being able to deal with all kinds of circumstances in a professional manner shows good manners. I also like how people are organized; it helps society to function better and more efficiently.
Most of the people in Azerbaijan are racist towards black people, simply because they have never really interacted with them. A couple of years ago Azerbaijani soccer teams started recruiting African soccer players. This resulted in a number of African soccer players living on my native hometown Baku. Unfortunately they were not very welcome by the local population. People would stare at them, laugh at them and make rude remarks about them. I made friends with couple of them and would hang out with them on regular basis. During these times people would often stare at us and make rude comments. I would always make sure to stand up for my friends and explain that it is wrong to act this way towards them.
A few years earlier we a had a class project regarding Geography and everyone was free to come up with a creative idea that involved some foreign country. Every stood in front of the class one by one and explained their project. When it was turn for one of my classmates he opened a map of the world with Middle East and North Korea crossed out in it. He then explained that he would drop a nuclear bomb on North Korea and Middle East and kill everyone that lives there. No one in class said anything including the teacher. I was shocked and wanted to say something but kept quiet. If this incident happened today I would definitely stand up and let him know that he was being ignorant and offer him more information about Middle East.
In addition to the social circumstances of Azerbaijan, religion acts as a major influence on Azerbaijani society, morals and values. Islam is practiced by 90% of the population and controls every aspect of a person’s life. Market exchanges and great religious associations integrate the social system of Islam, and although Islam is the core influence on the life of Azerbaijanis. The moral value system of Islam is based on the absolute equality of man, irrespective of race, wealth or lineage. The only distinction in Islam is based on piety.
I believe that Azerbaijan’s reaction to westernization has been a negative one due to the fact that previous Western culture has failed to penetrate it. The reason for the Azerbaijan’s rejection of globalization is because of their social circumstances. Socially, Azerbaijani culture is the opposite of what the fundamentals of globalization are. In Azerbaijan people are interdependent individuals, highly family oriented and they think analytically. In addition, Azerbaijani people do not base their activities on a timeline and are far more lenient in terms of tardiness or leaving a business setting to converse with a friend. Azerbaijani people embody the idea of putting someone else needs before their own as well as choosing to do business amidst their own social circles. The culture of Azerbaijani people to not do business with a stranger is one of the core reasons why globalization does not work there. In order to give a better understanding of how people there view doing business within their own social circle I’d like to tell a story of man whose friends frequent his uncles taxi company and would rather walk if there are not taxis available opposed to calling upon the services of another company.
In order to sum up how culture influences each generation differently I’ve divided them into three categories.
1-Those who reject westernization as the “highest stage of imperialism” and “cultural invasions” based on the idea that it is designed to dominate, intimidate and destroy a cultures heritage.
2-Those who welcome the scale of globalization as the age of modern science, advanced technology, global communications and knowledge-based information. This second group of thinker’s debate that its people can no longer remain confined to the boundaries of their heritage
3-Lastly, the third group does not agree with the idea of globalization nor does the group disagree with it. It can be described as a group that is positive neutrality and has a variation of attitudes when it comes to globalization.
The reaction of westernization depends of which group of population it is affecting. It seems the first group mentioned above is that of the elderly group around the age of grandparents. This group is made up of individuals who still hold on to tradition and religion allowing it to determine every aspect of their life. With this group Islam is the practiced religion and the traditions of Islam go against the idea of westernized globalization. The third group is made up of those who are middle aged, who at the moment feel indifferent about the idea of globalization. These people still allow specific parts of religion and tradition to dictate their lives yet they still entertain the thought of allowing the change to take place. It is safe to say that this group agrees with Frank Griffel who quoted, “”Instead of rejecting globalization, the Islamic world is finding its own way of globalization. The two processes use the same means and the same tools and are indeed inseparable.”
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Lastly, the second group is primarily made up of the younger generation. The younger generation is a lot more respectable to the change of things merely because that is the age in which he or she was born and raised in. Since the third group entertains the prospect of utilizing everything good in globalization, that is the idea the middle aged (parents) are passing on to the second group (children of the third group). To the first group the religion of Islam plays a major role in how globalization is reacted upon, however, the way the world is changing and the younger the generations, globalization will soon outweigh the power of religion.
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