The concept of Western culture is generally linked to the classical definition of the Western world
The “Western world” or the “West” is a term usually referring to different nations, depending on the context, most often including at least part of Europe. There are many accepted definitions about what they all have in common. The Western world is also known as the “Occident” (from Latin: occidens “sunset, West”, as contrasted with Orient) (reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_world)
In writing, when not just referring to a single country or region, authors tend to use the above terms interchangeably. In general, geographical reference have a clearer definition than cultural heritage by zones. Theoretically, the author should research on the geographic definitions of each of those term, and cross reference it to the countries, ethnic groups, cultures they are referring to, to ensure not too much bias or generalization is present. Also, stereotypes of certain geographical zones should be avoided or it will reduce credibility. Below are some example sentences with possible issues, bias or over generalization, possibly due to lack of country perspective:
- “In the East, students tend to study around the clock and the majority of their days are occupied by enforced extracurricular activities and cram school lessons.”
The first issue is the stereotyping all students in the East. If the author was say, South Korean and conducting a study on the social phenomenon in education between South Korea, they may be generalizing this cultural phenomenon across other countries in the same geographical zone, and even, all countries considered Asia by geographical definition. A better way to express this concept is perhaps:
“In many Asian countries including South Korea, students tend to study around the clock and the majority of their days are occupied by enforced extracurricular activities and cram school lessons”.
- “In Western culture people tend to express their disagreements and negative feelings directly rather than conceal it like Asians tend to because they are afraid of appearing disrespectful.”
This statement is over generalizing and not very accurate. For instance, UK and US are countries both considered Western; however, their cultures are rather different in certain respects. British people are known for their indirectness in expression, which is quite the contrary to the statement in the sentence.
- “Many countries in the West have banned the use of this drug.”
If the subject topic is of a hard science nature such as medical, the use of West without giving some examples or explanation may be considered biased and unscientific.