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Two Cultures Essay

“Culture refers to the way of life of a society. Most societies, culture is not uniform; different groups adopt slightly different versions of the main culture, it is not fixed but a process which changes over time.” (Garnock-Jones, C., 2006. p24).

“Norms are the unspoken and unwritten rules of behaviour in everyday life. We learn them through socialisation, and they tell us what we should and shouldn’t do in particular situations.”

The two societies to be investigated here are the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK); and Afghanistan (Afghan). These two countries have many similarities with each other but have more differences, bearing in mind that these are two individual countries.

The United Kingdom is located in the northwest of continental Europe; it is an island country and is surrounded by oceans, seas and many small islands such as the Shetland Islands. The UK is a small island in comparison covering 242,910 km sq (see annex A.1). In the UK there are four countries, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It is a very green country with lots of urban areas containing houses made of bricks and mortar. Temperatures vary with highs of 30 deg Celsius and lows of -10 deg Celsius with rainfall mainly all year round.

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Afghanistan is located in South Central Asia and unlike the UK is completely landlocked. It is broken down into thirty different provinces and is bordered by six other countries (Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and China). Afghanistan is three times the size of the UK with a total coverage of 652,090 km sq (see annex A.2). The terrain is mostly mountainous with sandy desert plains and very little greenery. The housing there is mostly mud bricks with straw and has flat roofs; in the city it is very similar to the UK with bricks and mortar. The temperatures also vary with highs of 60 deg Celsius and lows of -20 deg Celsius with a mixture of sunshine and snow depending on the time of year and altitude.

The United Kingdom is a multicultural society with a mixture of Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist), Muslim, Hindu with also some other religions and each religion will pray according to their own beliefs. The ethnic groups are a mixture of White (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish), Black, Indian, Pakistani and mixed races. In Afghanistan the countries people are predominantly Muslim (Sunni or Shia) with the ethnic groups of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen and Baloch.

There is a similarity here that Muslims live in both the UK and Afghanistan, no matter where they are, they will still pray five times a day facing Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslims also have Ramadan, this is in the ninth month of the year and last for thirty days, Muslims will not eat, drink, smoke, make love etc in the daylight hours. Christians however congregate on Sunday mornings this is also known as Sabbath (holy day of rest) where the congregation will sing hymns, have prayers, be taught through sermons, have a communion and have a collection or offering.

The birth rate in the United Kingdom is low compared to that in Afghanistan. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s world fact file the birth rate in the UK is 10.65 births per 1000 people per year; this is ranked at 182nd highest in the world. Afghanistan on the other hand is the 4th highest in the world with 45.46 births per 1000 people per year. This is a difference of 34.81 births.

The education process in the UK starts at pre-school, leading to infants, junior and senior school, 6th form college and university. Male and female children both start at the age of 3 years and it is compulsory to stay at school until the age of 16, where they can either leave or continue in education. In Afghanistan the education process is different; the Afghans mainly rely on funds from international aid to educate their children. Female children differ to males as many Afghan parents won’t let their daughters attend school, this is because there is a lack of female teachers and most parents won’t let their daughters be taught by males.

According to The World Guide 2005/2006, the life expectancy of people in the UK is 78.2 years whereas in Afghanistan the same life expectancy id 43.1 years. I believe this is due to the conditions of the country i.e. medical facilities, water purification, food etc. The same book wrote by Third World Institute suggests the under five mortality rate in the UK is 7 per 1000 births, in Afghanistan this drastically increases to 257 per 1000 births. In the UK the maternity facilities are excellent. In Afghanistan there is only one female gynaecologist who is based in Lashkar Gah; many families don’t have the privilege to travel there so choose to have home births without any medical personnel being present.

Although the UK is the smaller of the two countries, it has a larger population. The World Guide 2005/2006 states the population in the UK is 59,598,039 of this 50% of the population work for a living. Afghanistan is the larger country but only has a population of 25,971,254 of this 41.8% are in employment. In the UK woman are seen as equals in employment where as in Afghanistan females don’t have the same equality, this is because Afghan males don’t see them as equal.

In conclusion the United Kingdom is a highly populated and well maintained small island situated in the northwest of continental Europe. It has good health and education prospects where as Afghanistan is a large sandy country with not as good infrastructure as the UK, the country is heavily dependent on international funds for education and medical facilities.

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