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What Is the Relationship between Culture and Economic Development?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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The relationship between culture and economic development is drawn from an assessment of the manner in which various cultural traits enhance or hinder economic development. Different cultures exist within different societies, and all of these various cultures have their own peculiarities that make them unique and set them aside from others. Sometimes these cultural traits may be perceived as benefits from an economic point of view. At other times, other cultural traits may be viewed as a stumbling block to economic development.

An example of the relationship between culture and economic development can be seen in the area of food. Specific cultures have certain types of cuisine that are native to that area. Most times, people from that area may be used to that type of food and less open to other types of food due to cultural beliefs. For instance, a fast food restaurant in western countries may receive a lot of patronage from the members of that society since fast food like burgers and fries are native to that culture.

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The same fast food chain might not be as successful in Asian countries with a cultural preference for rice, noodles and their own native snacks. Some fast food chains make a concession to this cultural trait by including their own version of the native snacks or elements of the native cuisine in their menu to make their food more appealing and acceptable to that population. The same link between culture and economic development can be drawn from the native population's preference in music as well as literature and even business.

Another example of the link between culture and economic development is that in order to address such issues in an increasingly global world, most countries that display a marked autonomy in their cultural preferences may adapt the foreign concept in such a manner that renders it relevant to their culture. An example of this is Afro-jazz, which is a fusion of traditional African music and the more western jazz music in order to make it more marketable to both African and Western markets. This phenomena is also seen in the way people from other cultures around the globe copy certain aspects of the American culture such as rap music, manner of dressing, and other purely American factors, and make them work for their culture.

Fusion or integration of cultures help to drive economic growth. This fusion makes the members of various cultures more receptive to the possibility of economic cross-cultural collaborations with those of other cultures. This element of culture and economic growth is relevant in the sense that it also helps facilitate the rate of globalization and trade with other countries.

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ysmina
Post 3

@bluedolphin-- That's a tough question. I remember sometime back, the hottest debate among political scientists was whether Islam is conducive to democracy. This is a similar kind of question -- is every culture conducive to economic development?

You said that "as long as a government makes wise economic decisions." But that's just the thing. Sometimes governments don't make the wisest economic decisions because their political, religious or ideological beliefs are more important. Countries place embargoes and tariffs on one another all the time. Even though it's in the best interest of countries to trade with one another, some countries don't because they dislike one other's government or ideologies.

So whether we realize or not, our culture does impact our economic decisions and in turn our economic development.

bluedolphin
Post 2

@ysmina-- I see what you mean about businesses having to make changes to the way they do things.

But in terms of economic development and growth, I don't think that the type of culture has much to do with it. I mean, most countries take part in the global economy these days which runs on a free market system. Regardless of what type of culture a nation has, the road to economic development is basically the same for everyone. As long as a government makes wise economic decisions, what does culture have to do with it?

ysmina
Post 1

American fast food chains in Asia have had to make significant changes to their menus in order to survive in those markets. Some of the main items remain, but the ingredients are sometimes different and local snacks are added.

For example, an American fast food chain in India offers veggie burgers since the majority of Indians are vegetarian. In China, the same fast food chain offers native Asian desserts on their menu to attract customers.

Culture definitely has a huge impact on economic development in the sense that businesses have to adapt to the culture of those countries if they want to be successful.

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