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Influence of Western Culture on Singapore

Singaporeans strive to combine the best parts of Asian philosophy with the best parts of Western philosophy, where ‘respect for the individual’ (Western view) is secured and protected within the ‘support of the system of the group’ (Asian view). Thus, modern Singaporeans are adopting and adapting many Western ways to suit their traditional Asian values. But, alas, not all are beneficial.


It was when the British colonized Singapore in earlier times; that Singapore came under the influence of western influence. In this case, it was British culture, which still can be seen around Singapore today. Two very good examples would be that Singaporeans have adopted the British way of writing and style of governing.

Whilst Singapore progresses into a new millennia, the more prominent culture that influences Singaporeans these days is American Culture. Thus, Western culture has become the basic force impelling nation-states, like Singapore, towards globalisation. Because the West has led in the development of the industrial age, according to Toynbee, Western culture has “run like wildfire round the world” (p. 86). .As more people around the world (including Singaporeans) speak and understand English, regarding English as a very important communication tool.

Being exposed to Western culture, especially American culture, has caused Singaporeans, especially the younger generation, to be more open-minded and liberal in their thinking.

Pop culture, such as fashion and music from Western culture (mainly from American culture), has been quickly adopted by many Singaporeans, resulting in an influx of westernized-behaving Singaporeans.

In addition, Western culture has helped encourage most Singaporeans to try out new ways of doing and seeing things, as well as become more creative.


With the rising affluence of Westernization, many Singaporean newly married couples are moving away from the extended family to set up a new home. As a result, ties with the extended family start to drift apart.

Pop culture, such as music, from westernization has influenced the younger generation of Singaporeans to become more violent. This can be seen in the lyrics of famously notorious American rapper, Eminem. Children are starting to criticize and contradict their parents, having no respect for authority. The standard of moral values in Singapore society has started to disintegrate.

Due to Westernization, personal gain, material wealth and status possessions are fast becoming the status indicators of many Singaporeans, as in many Western societies.

A negative import of Western culture is the trait of ethnocentrism, which is defined as an attitude or perception that one’s culture and values are the only right and proper way, and that other cultures are wrong or deficient. Tolerance and understanding of other cultures is ignored.


The Differences Between Asian and Western Culture

Western culture places greater importance on the rights of the individual  (even against the government, eg. civil disobedience) rather than the rights of society at large. (Culture Shock! 50)

In the end, each individual must stand-alone and be responsible for his/her own actions and growth. Eastern culture, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on the good of all rather than the sole benefit of the individual. Therefore, each individual has duties and responsibilities towards the society rather than on self. (Culture Shock! 55)


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