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The Cultures

Key terms

Mentally, humans survive by recognizing patterns. We tend to avoid ambiguity and indecision.


You believe that your native country, culture, language, and behavior are central or superior to all others.


You take the view that local people understand their own life and practices and that you are better off leaving them alone.


You accept that there are differences and similarities between home and foreign life and practices that you should use whatever techniques are most effective.


the practice of viewing the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of the European social model.

Child Well-Being In Rich Countries


a reading of world history that emphasizes the importance of African people, taken as a single group and often equated with black people, in culture, philosophy, and history. Proponents of Afrocentrism claim that the contributions of various African cultures have been downplayed and need to be excavated from beneath an “official” historical record that has deliberately kept them hidden.


an ethnocentric perspective that regards China to be the center of civilization and superior to all other nations (diagram on left). In China, common names for China include “Zhonghua” (中华/中華) and “Zhongguo” (中国/中國), Central Kingdom, most excellent center.


The world with China
in the center

American exceptionalism

American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. … Historian Gordon Wood has argued, “We Americans are a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty and democracy.” …Although the term does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense. To them, the United States is like the biblical “shining city on a hill,” and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries.

The case for American exceptionalism was made recently by Newt Gingrich in the video A City Upon A Hill: The Spirit Of American Exceptionalism - trailer -

Ranking America – a site for information about the U.S. – How does the U.S. rank in …


the reduction and removal of barriers between national borders in order to facilitate the flow of goods, capital, services and labour producing an increasingly integrated and complex global system of production and exchange.

List of countries by population

List of countries by land area

Numerical data about the countries

We are studying what some sociologists call countries that are not WEIRD: Westernized, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic.

Compared to the other WEIRD countries, the U.S. does not fare so well. For example, in the U.N.’s latest study of child well-being in 29 WEIRD countries, the U.S. The good news is that U.S. children and teens drink less alcohol and get more exercise and eat more fruit than children and teens in other countries. However, on almost all the other several dozen standards, U.S. children do not fare so well.

The map below shows the countries in the U.N.’s report, those shaded in blue. None of our countries is among them, except for the Netherlands, which is, by quite a wide margin, the best country in the world for children. Notice the similarity between the two maps. Those shaded blue in the upper map and all well-lit in the lower map. The countries we are studying are many of those that are well lit, that is, Industrialized, but not yet fully WEIRD.


The WEIRD countries in the U.N.’s report

Compared to the countries that we are studying, the U.S. fares much better. The pages below have numerical data comparing the countries that we’re studying along with the U.S. and the Netherlands.

Some of these data sources on those pages are more neutral than others. Some are sponsored by an organization with a well-defined purpose that takes the side of an issue. Many of the sources have insufficient and perhaps unreliable data. I have tried to provide sources that are diverse geographically and politically.

The Lights on Earth

The Lights on Earth

From those comparisons, you will come to see the special combination of characteristics that make each of your countries unique. You might want to apply this to your final essay for this course, which should also be based on data and information of the kind you will encounter during this assignment.

  • In what ways is your country similar to the others? In what ways different?
  • Is your country in the middle of most of the lists? On which lists is it on one end or the other?
  • What does it all say about the country you are researching?

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