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Chapter 16
Global Challenges,
Local Responses, and
the Role of Anthropology
Chapter Outline
What can anthropologists tell us of the
 What are today’s cultural trends?
 What problems must be solved for
humans to have a viable future?
Anthropologists Contribution to
the Study of the Future of
Anthropologists see things in context.
 They have a long-term historical
perspective and recognize culture
bound biases.
 Anthropologists are concerned with the
tendency to treat traditional societies as
obsolete when they appear to stand in
the way of “development.”
An policy of mutual respect and
tolerance for cultural differences.
 Ethnic tension, common in pluralistic
societies, sometimes turns violent,
leading to formal separation.
 To manage cultural diversity within such
societies, some countries have adopted
multiculturalism as an official public
Global Corporations
Their power and wealth, often exceeding that
of national governments, has increased
dramatically through media expansion.
Megacorporations have enormous influence on
the ideas and behavior of hundreds of millions
of people worldwide.
States and corporations compete for scarce
natural resources, cheap labor, new
commercial markets, and ever-larger profits in
a political arena that spans the entire globe.
Structural power
The global forces that direct economic and
political institutions and shape public ideas
and values.
Hard power is backed up by economic and
military force.
Soft power is ideological persuasion.
The world’s largest corporations are almost all
based in a small group of wealthy states,
which dominate international trade and
finance organizations.
Globalization and
Globalization provides megaprofits for large
corporations but wreaks havoc in traditional
Globalization is marketed as positive for
everyone, but the poor are becoming poorer
and the rich richer.
Globalization engenders worldwide resistance
against superpower domination.
– For this reason, the emerging world system
is unstable, vulnerable, and unpredictable.
Results of Globalization
Worldwide and growing structural violencephysical and/or psychological harm:
– Repression
– cultural and environmental destruction
– Poverty
– hunger and obesity
– illness, and premature death
 Caused by exploitative and unjust social,
political, and economical systems.
A Sustainable Future
Dramatic changes in cultural values and
motivations, as well as in social
institutions and the types of
technologies we employ, are required if
humans are going to realize a
sustainable future.
 Shortsighted emphasis on consumerism
and individual self-interest needs to be
abandoned in favor of a more balanced
social and environmental ethic.
Pollution and Over
A direct threat to humanity.
Western societies have protected their
environment only when a crisis warranted.
Many of the world’s developing countries have
policies for population growth that conflict with
other policies.
Even with replacement reproduction, the
population would continue to grow for 50
Energy Consumption