Western world

The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to the various nations and states in the regions of Europe,[lower-alpha 1] North America,[lower-alpha 2] and Oceania.[3] The Western world is also known as the Occident (from the Latin word occidēns "setting down, sunset, west") in contrast to the Eastern world known as the Orient (from the Latin word oriēns "origin, sunrise, east"). Following the Discovery of America in 1492, the West came to be known as the "world of business" and trade; and might also mean the Northern half of the North–South divide, the countries of the Global North (often equated with capitalist developed countries).[4]

The Western world as based on the work of Samuel P. Huntington's 1996 Clash of Civilizations:[5] in turquoise are Latin America and the Orthodox World, which are either a part of the West or distinct civilizations intimately related to the West.[6][7]

The concept of "the West" first came into existence with the emergence of the Roman Republic, the roots of which can be traced back to Ancient Greece.[8] The concept also held its presence in the East–West Schism of the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.[9] The present day West is politically rooted in the revolutionary fervour of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in much of Europe and the Americas; the early twentieth century saw populist dictatorships in Europe leading to two World Wars with the aftermath of the cold war, which led to the formation of Western Bloc that adopted the model of liberal democracy with capitalist and free market economy.[10][11] The West is also known for its gendered identities and various antireligious sentiments; following the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution, inquisitions were abolished in the 19th and 20th centuries, leading to separation of church and state, and the establishment of secular states.[12]

Home to an array of diverse people in present-day, the West was once envisioned as the homeland for whites.[13][14] Women in the West are considered as the liberated, independent subjects that women from ‘other cultures’ are yet to become. Feminism is often criticized for being inherently white and western.[15] The transition from 1800s industrialization to 1900s mass production, consumerism and computing revolution is trailed with a fundamental shift from physical to intellectual labor, permitting the 1960s-80s development of revolution in gender roles and providing an irreligious but more woman-centered Western world after former male-dominancy.[16]

Used to develop national identities, the overarching concept of the West was forged in opposition to ideas such as "the East", "the Orient", "Eastern barbarism", "Oriental despotism", or the "Asiatic mode of production" by Karl Marx. Depending on the context and the historical period in question, Russia has sometimes been seen as a part of the West, and at other times, juxtaposed with it.[17][18][19][20] Transformed from a directional concept to a socio-political concept and with the backdrop of the perception of an increasing acceleration of time, the idea of the West was temporalized and rendered as a concept of the future (German: Zukunftsbegriff) bestowed with notions of progress and modernity.[17]

Running parallel to the rise of the United States as a great power, and the development of communication and transportation technologies "shrinking" the distance between both the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the aforementioned country became more prominently featured in conceptualizations of the West.[17] In modern usage, the term Western world sometimes[21] refers to Europe and to areas whose populations have large presence of European ethnic groups since the 15th century Age of Discovery.[22][23] This is most evident by the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand in the modern definitions of the Western world: despite being part of the Eastern Hemisphere; these regions and those like it are included due to its significant British influence deriving from the colonisation of British explorers and the immigration of Europeans in the 20th century which has since grounded both the countries to the Western world politically and culturally.[24]


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