The Process of Cultural Loss

Culture is always evolving and ever growing, as various aspects keep emerging in the world. Every day new things and trends occur, which influence the existing culture resulting in cultural change or cultural loss. Cultural loss takes place when a current practice or trait is abandoned entirely by a community. Many factors contribute to cultural deprivation, including changes in the environment, immigration of people, community mergers, acculturation, and ethnocide, among others (Haviland, 2010). Other factors that form the discussion include humanization, modernization of the ancient world, and globalization. Primarily, modernization is defined as the developing process of societies whereby their political and socioeconomic aspects change to acquire different cultural characteristics similar to western industrial nations. The modernization process involves development in technology, urbanization, agriculture, telecommunication, and industrialization (Catarina, 2015).

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The process consists of accepting western cultures that replace existing traditional cultures. Examples of instances modernization of ancient societies resulted in cultural loss include among the Sami reindeer herders and Shuar Indians. For example, the traditional occupations and culture of the Sami reindeer herders were disrupted by the political destabilization and technological integration caused by modernization after World War 2. The changes in technology, market integration, and diffusion of traditional and modern ruling institutions led to the dissolution of herding, which was the community’s culture (Haviland, 2010). On the other hand, the Shuar Indians were organized in small groups in Ecuador’s tropical forest, trying to avoid modernization. However, in 1964, they faced eviction as colonialists began grabbing their land to initiate regulatory development. Despite the loss of land and socioeconomic developments among the Shuar Indians, they were able to maintain their native language, egalitarian economic system, and kin-based systems.

Secondly, globalization in the underdeveloped world has played a significant role in the cultural loss. Globalization refers to the integration of systems, forming a global community that is not bound by country boundaries. Globalization has resulted in a global culture that has replaced specific community cultures (Haviland, 2010). For instance, economic control is shifting from the family and community to become global. Family structures are changing with more prevalence to small nuclear families over, extended families, changing labor markets, and the elderly living in nursing homes instead of home and community-based care, among others (William, 2013). Finally, humanization refers to making something or people friendlier to make them more civilized and refined. Humanizing people may be a strategy used to effect acculturation or ethnocide. For instance, the Yanomami Indians of Amazonia were utterly isolated from the world for two generations. However, once Christian missionaries and foreign traders moved into their land, their culture changed due to the assimilation of the new religion, planting of new crops, and adopting new trading items. These aspects led to wars and conflict that led to raiding and death among the people (William, 2013).

Cultural change and humanization mechanisms reflect the advancement and progress of humankind. This can be referred to as sociocultural evolution, where human beings must change with the changes in culture for survival and living. Culture keeps changing due to advancements in technology, modernization of communities, and ever-changing trends in the socio-economic trends. Human beings must find mitigation or adoption strategies such as embracing the changes, for survival and growth. Some of these cultural changes and factors have significantly resulted in directional changes as well as social progress (Catarina, 2015). Appreciating cultural differences leads to social progression, survival, and possible destruction. However, before the destruction hits first, humans are obligated to find survival and coping strategies such as embracing cultural change and living in line with the changes and advancements. The destruction of humankind and earth may never happen, as they will always find coping strategies to adjust to the changes that occur.



Catarina, A. L.-G.-M.-G. (2015). How Does Cultural Change Affect Indigenous Peoples’ Hunting Activity? An Empirical Study Among the Tsimane’ in the Bolivian Amazon. Conversation & Society, Vol 13(4) pp: 382-394.

Elwell, F. L. (2013). Sociocultural Systems: Principles of Structure and Change. Canada: AU Press.

Haviland, W. A. (2010). The Process of Change. In H. E. William A. Haviland, Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge (pp. 363-387). New York: Cengage Learning.

William, A. H. (2013). Anthropology: The Human Challenge. New York: Cengage Learning.

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