Globalization and Technological Advancements

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Is globalisation detrimental to African morality? Discuss

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This question is difficult to answer because its terms are somewhat vague. "Globalization" is a popular term most frequently used to describe the expansion and integration of the world economy beginning in the final decades of the twentieth century. However, economic connections between different parts of the world can be said to date back much earlier, to the days of the transatlantic slave trade, or at least to the European colonization of Africa in the nineteenth century—to name two historical events of profound importance to African life.

While Africa is simply too large and diverse a geographic area to be said to have a single moral system, it is possible to make at least some preliminary statements about the relationship between the moral ideals of a society and major trends of history that have impacted that society. Colonialism, for example, certainly had effects on all aspects of African civilization, in the realm of ethics and morals as well as politics and economics. Similarly, the political shifts of decolonization and national independence that African societies underwent in the decades after World War II, as the continent undertook its own leadership in the form of modern nation-states, shifted the frames of reference for both powerful elites and millions of ordinary people in many regions of Africa. Some traditional societies remained largely untouched by these trends, while others saw drastic changes to their ways of life, structures of governance, and cultures. Economic globalization, bringing the material goods and mercantile values of the Western world more deeply into the day-to-day life experience of individuals (at least in the continent's urban centers) may simply deepen this long-term displacement of cultural traditions.

By taking note of the historical context described above, it may be possible to answer the stated question by attempting to define one's understanding of "African morality" and relate it to the broad changes in the contemporary world invoked by the phenomenon of "globalization."

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Overall, I do not agree that globalization has been detrimental to African morality.  I also think that there are problems that are inherent in trying to answer this question.

The major problem that comes with trying to answer this question is that it implies that there is such a thing as “African morality.”  It implies that all Africans, or perhaps some great majority of Africans, share a common set of moral values.   I am not convinced that there is a distinctive thing that can be called “African morality.”  Instead, I would argue that there are different groups in Africa with different sets of moral values just as there are in other parts of the world.

Even if we could identify what African morality is, I would say that globalization has not been detrimental to that morality.  If globalization has hurt African morality, it can only be because outside values have entered Africa.  This implies that these morals are inferior to African morals.  However, if Africans already have a superior morality, why would they abandon it when exposed to foreign influences?  Why would they not stick with the morality that they already have given that it is a superior morality.

Overall, I simply reject the idea that the people of any one continent have a morality that is both distinctive from and superior to that of other people.  Therefore, I do not think that globalization has been detrimental to African morality. 

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