One of the challenges of sociology is to break away from the idea that western modes of life are somehow superior and therefore sets standards for those cultures found elsewhere. "Such a belief is encouraged by the very spread of western capitalism itself, which has set in motion a train of events that has corroded or destroyed most other cultures with which it has come into contact" (Giddens, 1987:19).If social evolution is seen as the capacity of a culture to master its environment, then western style capitalism seems to have done this. Undeniably, it has "unleashed material productivity vastly greater than that of any other societies which have preceded it in history" (Giddens, 1987:19). Evolutionary schemes, however, express an ethnocentrism that takes the position that one's own culture is somehow to be used as a measure to judge other societies. The "conviction of superiority has been in some part an expression, and a justification, of the greedy engulfing other modes of life by industrial capitalism" (Giddens, 1987:19-20).
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