How does culture shock relate to Social Darwinism?

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boomer-sooner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Culture shock is defined as the disorientation a person feels when confronted with a cultural climate outside of their established norms.  The effect is observed when moving to a new country, a new area or even into a new social realm.  It is easy to understand the culture shock of an American moving to China.  The common customs and courtesies are very different and would result in culture shock.  However, it also occurs when people move within the social strata.  For example, a middle school student moving into high school will experience a form of culture shock from the different norms of the school.

Social Darwinism is a social theory describing how people operate or behave within the society.  The theory supposes there are finite resources for people to obtain and a constant struggle to capture those resources.  The survival of the fittest mantra assumes people with better social standing or ability to gain resources will thrive.  Their offspring will have greater access, and the cycle continues.  While it remains a theory on social activity, there is evidence to support the idea.  Wealthy people can better manage education, allowing their kids more opportunity to maintain the family wealth.  However, social Darwinism fails to explain all aspects of society such as people who are satisfied with very few resources.

Culture shock relates because it is one of the catalysts for social Darwinism.  When a person experiences culture shock, social Darwinism suggests the person better able to handle the shock and overcome it will be more successful in society.  Without culture shock or another catalyst, there is no need for social evolution.  It is one area where social scientists can experiment with the survival of the fittest.  Observations of people entering either naturally or artificially into a new culture can provide insights into how successful people operate and human response to social stress as a whole.