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Anthropology, Culture, and Consumer Behavior

Robert Guang Tian

My students have been asking me, from time to time since I joined business faculty at an American college, whether anthropology can be applied in business.  My answer to the question has become longer and longer, from a single “Yes” to a few sentences, to clarifying what anthropology is and how anthropologists can make their contributions to the business world.  Over the last century, anthropologists have created a discipline to make sense out of human behavior through the culture concept, a holistic approach, and empirical research.  Although anthropological concepts have been defined largely in academia, in reality there are always “applied” practitioners of anthropologists working in areas like health care, education, business, marketing, and industry.  These practitioners have demonstrated time and again that an anthropological approach has a great deal to offer the business world, particularly in the use of anthropological methods in consumer behavior studies. 

Consumer behavior was a relatively new field for the business professionals in the middle of the last century and has become one of the main topics in contemporary business world.  Various approaches have been developed by business scholars and practitioners to study consumer behavior, such as a psychological approach, a sociological approach, an economic approach, and a market research approach, among others.  The traditional consumer behavior study theories fundamentally view the study of consumer behavior as the study of how individuals make decisions to spend their available resources, such as time and money, on consumption-related items.  However, the different approaches may not share the same focuses.  For example, the psychological approach stresses the consumers’ psychological processes in terms of consumption decision making and post-consumption evaluation; the market research approach stresses the linkages between the study of consumer behavior and the practice of marketing research.

Recently, some new approaches to consumer behavior have been developed, such as geographical approach, and anthropological approach. Today, many applied anthropologists employ qualitative techniques along with some quantitative approaches (survey, for example) in complex organizations from community centers to large corporations in terms of various anthropological researches. More recently many anthropologists involve themselves into marketing researches although not many involved into the consumer behavior field yet. Meanwhile more and more marketers are using anthropological methods in their marketing practice and research. In practice, business anthropologists almost study everything from marketing strategies to the corporate climate, applying traditional anthropological methods of research and observation to understand and reflect business culture, and thus make their contributions to the business development.

The core concept in anthropology is culture. According to classical anthropological theory, culture is an underlying dimension of all societies.  All human behavior, including consumer behavior, takes place within a cultural context.  Anthropology uses the concept of culture to describe and analyze human behavior, values, choices, preferences, practices, beliefs, attitudes, and so on. The embrace of cultural beliefs and values is an integral part of being human; culture makes social life and economic cooperation possible and meaningful.  The concept of culture, therefore, is invaluable for those who seek to understand consumption, regardless of whether the researcher is studying a modern industrial country or a small, remote village.

The anthropological approach is effective in consumer studies because anthropologists and anthropological methods offer an alternative perspective. Using advertising as an example, while focus groups might be used to look at the demographics of a region to best select a specific advertising campaign, an anthropologist would study how people react to the ad within certain cultural frameworks.  It is my brave view of the future that applied anthropologists will become the hottest candidates for business related research jobs given the fact that anthropological methods are becoming more widely acceptable in the business world given the facts that cultural influences on business and consumer behavior are persistence. Dr. Marieke de Mooij, the President of Cross Cultural Communication Company (her own consultancy based in the Netherlands), is one of the world known scholars who have made remarkable contributions to the cultural approach to consumer behavior by innovative studies.  Mooij, the author of several publications on the influence of culture on marketing and advertising, including the popular book Global Marketing and Advertising, Understanding Cultural Paradoxes (Sage Publications, USA 1998), is a doctor in communications, "Profesora Asociada" at the University of Navarra, Spain, and Hofstede Fellow at IRIC, the Institute for Research in Intercultural Cooperation at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. 

Drawing from over 30 years of experience in both advertising practice and education at an international textile company, in an advertising agency, and as a director of the Dutch Foundation for Education in Advertising and Marketing, the book Consumer Behavior and Culture: Consequences for Global Marketing and Advertising (Sage Publications, USA 2004), under review is the first book to present an empirically based model for integrating culture with consumer behavior. It entirely and systematically elaborates the relations between culture and consumer behavior, and thus is worth reading by all of those who are interested in consumer studies. Mooij has been involved in international advertising education since 1980 as Director of Education, International Advertising Association and as a Managing Director BBDD College.  In the book Dr. Mooij demonstrates that consumers worldwide are not the same, and the differences in consumer behavior between countries increase with greater wealth. With increased wealth cultural values become manifest. These values are reflected in consumption. In many consumption domains consumer behavior across cultures is diverging instead of widely claimed converging.

According to Dr. Mooij, in many models of consumer behavior, culture is viewed as an environmental factor, and textbooks on consumer behavior, when dealing with culture, tend to focus on the practices of culture.  This book probes in deep degree about culture's influence on consumer behavior as well as on the mind of the consumer.  The author has structured the various elements of consumer behavior in an alternative approach and presents a model that integrates culture in all aspects of the human being, in the self and in personality.  She indicates that because all aspects of consumer behavior are culturally bounded, therefore they are not subject merely to environmental factors but integrated in all of human behavior.  As the world is becoming a global village and marketing becomes a global strategy, there is an increased need to identify and understand integration of culture and consumer behavior as well as its impact on global marketing and advertising.

The book consists of eight chapters. In the introductory chapter the author reviews the current myths of global marketing. Some marketers claim that the advanced technology, such as the mobile phone and the Internet, has changed consumer behavior; however the author uses the continuously increasing evidences and insists that the advanced technology has not changed people.  "It has reinforced existing habits that, instead of converging, tend to diverge.  There is no evidence of converging consumer behavior across countries." (p. 1) This phenomenon is a core topic discussed in the book that provides evidence of consumer behavior differences that are too large and too stable to ignore. 

Chapter 2 explains the concept of culture.  Cultural values are at the root of consumer behavior, so understanding culture's influence is necessary for those who want to succeed in the global market place.  Culture is pervasive in all aspects of consumption and consumer behavior and should be integrated into all elements of consumer behavior theory.  The author compares two cultural models that are most used in theory and practice, and explains her choice of the Hofstede model. "Culture is the glue that binds groups together.  Without cultural patterns ----organized systems of significant symbols ---- people would have difficulty living together. Culture is what defines a human community, its individuals and social organizations. "(p. 26) It is in this chapter that the author claims that both values and related behavior vary by culture.  "One cannot assume that the same set of values will influences two different groups of consumers' responses for the same marketing stimuli, or that causes of behavior in once country are the same in another." (p. 26)

Chapter 3 presents the author's most important contribution to marketing, her findings of convergence and divergence of consumption and consumer behavior.  It also reviews national income and socio-demographic variables that tend to be used in the analyzing of cross-country differences. According to the author, values and behavior of human beings are very stable, as such "when countries go through development stages from premodern to modern and postmodern, whatever convergence takes place is at macro level and rarely at micro level." (p. 86) In the Chapter 4 the author probes the concepts of self, personality, and identity from a cross cultural perspective. She indicates that these concepts are central for understanding human behavior and are often used as metaphors in branding and corporate strategy.  In particular, personality theories, developed mostly by Anglo-Saxon psychologists, have been adopted by theorists of marketing and advertising worldwide.  These theories are not as universal as generally thought, which has major implications for strategy development.  The author learned this when dealing with Japanese companies who have very different perceptions than, for example, American companies of what makes a strong brand.  Chapter 5 deals with the self in the social environment.  The author warns that in a large part of the world, the context in which the self operates defines the self, which is very different from what Western psychology teaches. "Most motivations are not innate, but formed by culture.  Motivation theories are culture-bound and they tend to reflect the culture of the theorist who developed the theory.  That doesn't mean these theories are useless, but the user must be aware of the cultural bias." (p. 175)

Chapter 6 describes mental processes, such as perception, learning, and language.  How these processes vary is of great importance for marketing communications. The author claims that consumer behavior is learned in the context of a specific social system. "With the acceptance of the person as a carrier of culture, cognitive processes are also considered as being shaped by culture.  They will systematically vary as a function of the manner in which the self is culturally constituted." (p.183) It is in this chapter that the author thoroughly probes the significance of culture to communication. "Knowledge of the differences is of utmost importance to international marketers and advertisers.  Communication is only effective if the receiver of the message understands the message as the sender intends it." (p. 225)

In Chapter 7 the author reviews various consumer behavior domains and includes most statistical evidence of how culture influences consumption, as well as product development because "culture also influences the development of new products" (p. 269) Finally, in Chapter 8 the author deals with a few specific practical applications. According to the author, in today's business world understanding the influences of culture on consumer behavior will help to reach a better international market development and market segmentation.  "For each product category countries can be clustered and mapped according to the cultural dimensions.  This is a more meaningful and effective way to cluster countries than using geographical closeness, languages, or GNP/capita.  Knowledge of the long-term effects of culture on consumer behavior should improve international branding, marketing, and advertising strategy." (p. 287) Moreover, correctly "understanding people across culture is the first and most important step in international marketing." (p. 314)

Dr. Geert Hofstede, the contemporary most famous scholar in cross cultural management studies field, has highly appraised the book: "Marieke de Mooij shows that American theories of consumer behavior do not necessarily apply abroad. Her national consumption data are an unobtrusive measure of national cultures. She has made marketing students discover culture, and her work should make cross-cultural psychologists discover the consumer as an informant."  There are several key features identified, namely 1) A cultural exploration of the various psychological and sociological aspects of human behavior, such as concept of self, personality, group influence, motivation, emotion, perception, and information processing. 2) A discussion of consumer behavior theories and cultural variations from around the world. 3) Coverage of a number of consumer behavior domains, including explanations of differences in consumption and ownership, all based on empirical evidence.  4) In addition to anecdotal evidence, the consequences of branding and marketing communication strategy are presented and analyzed. 

In short, this book reviews the myths of global marketing, and explores the concept of culture and models of culture. It provides empirical evidence of convergence and divergence in consumer behavior and covers various psychological and sociological aspects of human behavior used for explaining consumer behavior. It also reviews and discusses cultural variations of these aspects across the world.  As such, this reviewer strongly recommends the book to students, scholars, and practitioners in marketing and advertising, as it is designed to meet the needs of those wishing to view consumer behavior from a global cultural perspective.  It also serves a rich anthropological resource for those emphasizing the role of minority groups as well as increased multicultural sensitivity in their marketing and advertising strategies.

It is important to be noticed that scholars often apply the marketing mix model in consumer behavior studies. Although this book intensively discusses the impact of culture on two elements of marketing mix, namely product and promotion, it is this reviewer's point of view that the author should probe at least in certain degrees about the influence of culture on price and distribution, another two elements of marketing mix. Also, although much more consumer behavior studies should be conducted at the collectively cultural level, the individual level of consumer behavior studies through psychological approach is still significant.  In other word we need to carefully avoid the possibility of pan-cultural consumer behavior model by over stating the functions of culture; which of course is not the purpose of the book.

Adopted from a book review invited by the editor of Journal of Consumer Marketing, 2004.

Cultural Rights and Uyghur Nationalism
Robert Guang Tian, Ph. D·


Nation, nationalism, nation-state, and nationalist movement are most complicated concepts to be clarified by the scholars who have established the post-modernism theory. Various approaches, such as political rights, economical rights, ethnical identity power, etc. have been created to understand nationalism and nationalist movement. Cultural rights are viewed as most important foundation for nationalism in the post-modern time. Uyghur nationalism movement is a hot geopolitics subject and could be a serious potential conflict in the Central Asia. It is suggested that Uyghur nationalist movement should realize that their objectives need to be adjusted given the current international situation and their limited resources.  To fight for their cultural rights at this time is more reasonable and attainable for the Uyghur nationalist movement than to claim the independence immediately.  It is also suggested that the Chinese central government should be more tolerable and flexible in terms of Uyghur nationalist movement towards its cultural rights. As long as the both sides are willing to deal with the nationalism through the approach of cultural rights a win-win situation is for sure to be realized.   

Key Words: Cultural Rights, Nationalism, Nation-state, Nationalist Movement, Uyghur Nationalism, Geopolitics and Conflicts


Uyghur nationalism movement is a hot geopolitics subject and could be a serious potential conflict in the Central Asia.  However, the scholars in the Central Asian studies have not paid enough attention to this issue.  In recent years, as the world anti-terrorism situation continuously to be tension some radical Uyghur Nationalists and their organizations became the targets by the United States and China as terrorists.  However the mainstream of Uyghur Nationalism Movement claims that they are not terrorism but a people who are building their national identity. Meanwhile, the Chinese central government denies the Uyghur people as an independent nation but one of ethnic groups in China. Some scholars believe that the Uyghur problem will not be automatically resolved given the current circumstances as long as its roots, namely cultural and other perceived existential threats to the Uyghur people remain unattended.  In fact the history of the world demonstrated that ethnic issues almost never fade away under conditions of neglect, nor will be they disappeared through economic development alone[i].

Dr. Dru Gladney, the famous Professor of Asian Studies and Anthropology at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, once told the author that although attempts to find solutions to this very difficult and important issue have been made by scholars,  more practical suggestions would be useful rather than a general appeal for people to stress common human concerns, such as the solutions on what common concerns shared by Uyghur, Hui, Kazakh, and Han in Xinjiang, as opposed to the typical Uyghur vs. Han (outside Xinjiang) approach.[ii] 

Various approaches, such as political rights, economical rights, ethnical identity power, etc. have been created to understand nationalism and nationalist movement. Cultural rights are viewed as most important foundation for nationalism in the post-modern time.  It is clear that although the Uyghur Nationalism Movement has been widely noticed by the international society, its targets yet need to be readjusted to be more rationale and practical in terms of available resources and according to the world social political situations as well as the China domestic situations.

The Uyghur Nationalists should rise above their cultural nationalisms (race and ethnicity and emphasize a common humanity with the Han, as well as other ethnic groups live in Xinjiang.  It is also important that the Uyghur nationalists to stress their "common humanity" from outside Xinjiang, where Uyghurs within the region feel that they are in danger of losing their culture and autonomy entirely.  Indeed, critiques of the "multi-culturalism" approach in the US (which emphasize a sort of Benetton-like 'celebration of diversity' and masked race- and ethnic-based stratification) were particularly clear that such an emphasis can be used by the state to justify their oppression of minorities and sub-groups.  Clearly, if everyone is ethnic there is no reason to recognize the oppression of ethnic people by a majority-based state.[iii]  

It is suggested that Uyghur nationalist movement should realize that their objectives need to be adjusted given the current international situation and their limited resources.  To fight for their cultural rights at this time is more reasonable and attainable for the Uyghur nationalist movement than to claim the independence immediately.  It is also suggested that the Chinese central government should be more tolerable and flexible in terms of Uyghur nationalist movement towards its cultural rights. As long as the both sides are willing to deal with the nationalism through the approach of cultural rights a win-win situation is expected to be realized. 

My research interests on the Uyghur nation and the up-growing Uyghur nationalist movement comes from my personal experience and academic backgrounds. I noticed the social and economic development of Northwest China, particularly, the nationalist issue even when I was teenager in West China where the Chinese muslim are concentrated. I worked for some time in Xinjiang (my Uyghur friend would rather refer it as East Turkistan) in 1980s, during that period I got some direct impression from my interactions with various folks. Escaping China in 1989 I noticed the heating Uyghur nationalist movement outside China after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and its puppets. The nationalist issues in the movement are worthy of comprehensive study not only for me as personal academic interesting in general but also for the Uyghur nationalists who are firmly pro-independence in particular.

According to my observation, the virtual aim for Uyghur nationalist movement (UDM) is independence, e.g. independent from China whether in names of East Turkistan or Uyghurstan. My Uyghur friends perceive that separating from China is the only way to dismantle the oppression of Han nation toward them. The underlined principal theory is National Self-determination through peaceful methods or violent ones. So far various factions of the movements are unanimous on the virtual aim of national independence; however they differs on approaches to get it and what the new independent Uyghur state should be like. At the same time the movement came across some extremely serous frustration in recent years when the Chinese government publicly and mercilessly depressed the Uyghur national movement under the name of anti-terrorism after September 11th, 2001. It is imperative to gain international understanding, sympathy and support for the Uyghur nationalist movement in terms of the current and future international situations.

Based on the studying the nationalist movement histories of the world and the main theories of nationalism, I conclude that the essence of nationalism is the ideology that reflects the values and identity difference among nations, which in turn reflects the political, social, economical and cultural differences among all the nations in the world. Among these differences cultural difference plays an extremely important role for various reasons as it is more easily to be identified and felt. How can nations’ independent cultural characteristics serve their political and economical objectives? An inventory of the literature suggested that the previous studies mainly focus on the identity of national interest and national movement but few, if any, on the importance of cultural rights in national movement. On the basis of former studies on cultural rights and global marketing I would like to focus on the discussion of national cultural rights[iv] by taking the Uyghur nationalist movement in Xinjiang, China as a case to further explore it. My assumption here is that the territorial border (or boundaries) is no longer the unique standard to determine nationalism. It is imperative to the national interests to grasp the marginal environments politically or non-politically. I would study the contents and manifest of cultural rights in nationalist movement intensively through detailing the impact of current cultural rights theory on traditional political nationalism based on self-determination. For practical reasons I would like to discuss several critical issues in the Uyghur nationalist movement in light of cultural right theory to further explore the impact of cultural rights theory toward nationalist movement.

1. Cultural Nationalities and Political Nationalism

1.1 cultural nationalities

The definition of nation remains ambiguous and extremely arguable. The different schools can be listed as, a) community composed of the people who share the common cultural heritage; b) because of the history discontinuity, and nation is regarded as something of pure construction[v]. Nation is regarded as the result of history, an inevitable result of different states competing for resources and spaces and, the expansion of rationality. This explanation takes the emergence of nations in line with western modernity and thus is a typical western definition[vi]; c) recognizing that nation resulting from modernity, this school stresses the cultural connections with the ancient communities. Without the appeal of such cultural connection and historical identity there would be no cohesion of nation, or even the nation itself[vii].

Most researchers would like to articulate the nation in terms of a vast human background and emphasize the concept of “cultural nation”, which is regarded as the key to the birth, evolution and mobilization of given nations. The primary national community is tribal nation; its core is kinship. The common geography and kinships are essentials to the nation unit. The primitive form of tribal nation is clan which is rarely seen presently except for some places in Africa that described by Morgan[viii]. What attributes nations in the modern world is culture, including: a) shared history, e.g. the identical or close history procession, destiny and connections on the basis of long inter-exchange; b) shared culture, e.g. the common language, religion, value, psychology and customs; c) shared names and national identity.

Therefore, the concept of nation originated from the differences of human being in order to tell “selves” and “others”. Although there are large quantities of differences among human beings such as race, kinship, tract, class and profession, the essence of difference is rather cultural. Nations pursue their rights for development in the same way as they do for their political or religious rights; however none of them are the essence of nation. The boundary of nation might be defined by natural geography, political systems (modern state), kinship, religion, even language; it is national cultures that immediately distinguish one nation from the others. A. D. Smith upholds the argument that a typical nation should have such features: common name as a social community; the common long lived tract; the common heritage, legend and popular culture; common economy and pervasive rights and duties prescribed by law and applied to all[ix].

1.2 political nationalism—national self-determination

Apparently, with the essence of cultural community, the concept nation is distinguished from the political concept of state. However, empirically the concept of nation is labeled with political ideas and activities. It is mixed up with the ideology of various sorts of nationalism or nationalist movements aiming to struggle for national independence and national state that are highly politicalized.

Thus nationalism contains following basics:

a. The world is divided by nations. Individuals have special passions and duties to their own nation. Their loyalties and loves to their own nation are beyond to other nations

b. On the basis of judging the history and present situations between nations, it demands dealing the relationships between nations in the interests of its won national interests. When dealing the relationships between nations the national interests is the unique principle and standard. The national interests not only consist of economic and political interests that are visible but also those invisible interests such as cultural interests.

c. The highest target of nationalism is the survival and powerfulness of the nation rather than an independent national state only. The founding of an independent state is just a stage or means in the process of pursing its highest target. However because of present world system in which the sovereign state is the most active and powerful factor, the people tends to think that building an independent state is the shortcut or inevitable way to assure its survival and greater development. This belief developed wildly in 20th century to some kind of blind worship to “sovereign state” in the international politics. Even some scholars take national independence as the highest target of nationalism.

Therefore we can sum up in this way: Nationalism is a kind of ideology and activity conducted by a nation unit aiming to build an independent state.

Anyway almost all the scholars stress the ideology, social movement and political appeal of the term of nationalism, based on some national elements such as national compassion, national consciousness and the national identity. The core of nationalism is a political process aiming to reach homogeneity among certain groups of people in the way of appealing to the national right to attain the “state identity” in the name of nation. There are different stages: national identification, consciousness of right, national goal, national mobilization and realization of their rights. The priority is to found an independent national state. We here call this kind of nationalism “self-determination nationalism” whose essence is the founding a national state through the self-determination right.

The “self-determination nationalism” recognizes and promotes the self-determination right of every nation. It pursues national independence. It consolidates the national proper pride and self-confidence and helps mobilize the mass to fight and sacrifice in realizing its political aims. It also preserves the unique national cultural tradition and enriches the resources and lives of a nation. It supplies some legitimacy for its political reign by stressing and respecting its national identity and tradition. Thus we should say it supplies some legitimate basis for political governance.

However this political nationalism is dangerous at the same time. This unreasonable nationalism counts for value relativeness that opposes cultural varieties or universal civilization. With the intolerance in cultures and ethics it paves the way toward political autarchy and dictatorship. Some nationalist goes so far that they claim the absolute sovereignty of nation state and exclude the individual autonomy. This would extremely possible suppress or even deprive of the individual rights and eventually bring up the absolutism with no check or balance. To the nationalists who worship the self-determination the critical survival unit is nation or race. All other things esp. the individual survival is of no importance in context of the national interests. It proclaims the concentration of power and resources and promotes the relativeness that against universal value. It does not necessarily induce despotism but it is easily used by despotism.

1.3 Practice of nationalism

In the 18th French enlightenment the modern nationalist theory formed. The critical characteristic is: to replace kingship with human rights; to replace the legitimacy of kingship with Reason state; to combine the nationalist compassion with individual self-determination or civilian’s choice of government. Thus the human rights were re-emphasized and the nation state must be a democratic one in which the equal basic rights of every individual would be protected. In North America not only a constitutional state—the United States of America-- was created in which people enjoyed ever more freedom, but also a totally new nation was “created” on the basis of common beliefs of the enlightenment ideology instead of common kinship.

There are obvious differences between the 18th nationalism and the one in early Great Britain period. In 18th century the human rights rather than the individual rights was emphasized. What are human rights? It contains two aspects that serve as the basis of preliminary “national self-determination”: 1) social individual rights; 2) group rights, e.g. national or state rights. The later one originates two dilemmas: the request to recover territory; ethnic separation movement in a state. Deeply believing in individual freedom, the born equality and liberty, Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought the freedom based on individual rights is by no means integrity. A new authority of national regime based on public will should be established to restore social justice and order. Putting collectivism and nationalism at the top priority in veil of praising the individualist rights, this, is the new contents he plugged in nationalism.

This new nationalism is somewhat ambiguous in its contents in comparison with the former West European ancestor whose contents are very definite. This new one emphasizes on the significance of nationalism itself instead of concrete goals such as individual freedom. The typical contributor to it is Germany. Germans replaced the concept of civilian which based on democracy and reason with another new ambiguous concept, “countryman”, which instigates the unreasonable emotions in practice. After the reshaping the new concept of nationalism abandoned in a large degree—if not totally—the Western European nationalism that cherishes universalism and individualism. This new one embraces the greatest national interests.

Thus the nationalism is developed. It germinated in Reconnaissance, grew up in religion reform movement, matured in French Revolution which spread it to the whole world. However the teachings derived from Napoleon and his army outside West Europe is no longer the respect to individualism, but a cult to collectivism. The national freedom is far higher beyond the individual freedom. It is a belief, and also a responsibility. Lord Acton signaled the earliest warning in 1882 in a paper which exposed the fundamental conflict between individual freedom and nationalism. Nationalism transferred the nation as the final goal of state instead of individual freedom, which means diversity in a society. Just as Acton said, whenever a single aim is set up as the state top aim this state will become absolutism. Freedom requires restraint on pubic authority[x].

1.4 Dual ways of nationalism

For nationalists, it is imperative to make clear what they really want, the target. Externally the nationalism is for national self-determination to achieve political independence. It is justified to pursue for political sovereignty, because only in sovereign state that a nation can enjoy freedom. In fact, nation-state is both the end and the means for nationalists. Both national interests and individual interests should be pursued in the movement. The participants in nationalist movement fight for the whole nationalist interests and, for their own personal interests too. As a matter of fact, nationalism in history originated in Enlightenment Movement in which the individualism was the critical dynamics. Yael Tamir regards that liberalism and nationalism are in harmony. Nationalism shall not separate itself with individual freedom and rights.

In modern nationalism one sees the philosophy for the weak nation against the powerful one in 18th century. Nationalism was born with the core and dynamics of individual rights. Because of the individualism the nationalism was justified to fight against external oppression and, for national cohesion. It is the individualism that determines the governance of nation-state in which the state must safeguard the individual rights. Hence the nationalism should identify, in a large sense, with liberalism. Studying the pioneering nationalists as Herder and Mazzini, Gross concludes that nationalism started from two critical principles, the worldlism and individualism. Fundamentally nationalism is democratic and liberal. We should rather call liberal nationalism. Enlightenment theories and the French Revolution not only accelerated the birth of nationalism but also the various democracies. In turn the nation-state shows tolerance. However, ironically, two opposite nationalism were developed because of different surroundings: the liberal one and none-liberal one.

While the liberal nationalism supports for nationals self-determination, it strongly emphasizes on rule of law, democracy, human rights and citizenship. It argues for equal rights among all nationalities and it carries the heritage of the philosophy of Enlightenment Movement. The none-liberal one, on the contrary, tends to support for racial despotism. Only on national self-determination the two nationalisms share common proposition. While the liberal one takes individualism as its priority, the none-liberal one takes nation-state. Externally the liberal nationalism takes the individual rights beyond the state rights and argues for people’s control over government, while the none-liberal one argues for individual’s submission to nation-state. In such institutions individual and groups serve only as means inferior to some supernatural state, the civil society makes no sense in the context of powerful state.

Benjamin Constant remarked that the pursuit for freedom might encourage violation of freedom, and some vicious cult toward collective authority beyond individual. The victory of peoples’ sovereignty might go to the disaster of people. The key here is to line up the boundary of political power. The people sovereignty should not justify the unlimited government founded even through legal procedures. Where is the boundary of power?  It is argued that individual rights and individual independence. Majority approval shall not legalize any behavior; some behavior shall never be legalized[xi].

It is clear that the critical difference between these two nationalism lies on the pursuit for “individual freedom” and “national freedom”. Hayek said that the “national freedom” comes from the application of original freedom, e.g. individual freedom, on nation. However, a free people do not necessarily mean a people of free men. Collective freedom is not necessarily the precondition for individual freedom[xii]. When a nation struggles for freedom to control its destiny, the term of “national freedom” emerges. In this case the concept of freedom is applied to the group instead of individual. The pro-individualist would usually support nationalist freedom enthusiastically; however it shall not necessarily lead to individual freedom. If nationalism is pursued within the context of the submission of individual freedom, it will take individual rights as threaten or betray to national freedom. The national independence and freedom, the none-interference principles to a sovereign state would serve as a grandiose excuse to oppress internal freedom. Without respect to individual rights and freedom, the sovereignty is false; the sovereignty and freedom based on state rather than individualism are doomed to be bankrupt.

2. National Cultural Rights and Culture-nationalism

2.1 Cultural rights a new highlight

Culture in the term of national culture means general culture that includes beliefs, norms, system, traditional institutions and social languages. Arts, literature and music are part of culture. They are culture in narrow sense and take less important parts in the general culture[xiii]. There are features for cultures. First, culture is immaterial. It includes the whole living styles, beliefs, attitudes, preferences and philosophies etc. It is reflected in various ways in politics, economy and society. Secondly, culture stresses the common identity of groups. There are regional and global cultures. However the critical one is national culture. Third, culture is of both nationality and universality.

As the peculiar living style national culture is the basis of national identity. Cultural intuition toward collective personalities and various behaviors creates “we-group” that distinguishes itself from other nations. National identity includes the recognition to national common belief, which is critically important to national identity. Personal identity depends on group identity, which means the continuing consciousness passed from generations to generations in some groups. They share the memory of legacies and personnel. Individuals attend cultural activities of social groups to gain personal experience. He should learn group heritage such as cultural symbols, history legacy and traditions outside his personal experience. Group identity endows group sense and feeling to satisfy the requirement of being belonged. The identity of individual to group or national culture requires mastery of the core value in a given culture, including language, religion, social and family tradition, and national history. In this sense the culture core value is the identity of the nation.

In Herald and Berlin’s opinion individual belongs to certain groups among which the most practical one is nation[xiv]. There is no abstract individual at all. Group identity and national identity, e.g. belonging to a community, are the basic need for human being just like his need for food, sex and communication. No belonging to a nation or regional community, no creativity[xv]. Yael Tamir even argues that communal affiliation is one of the essential humanity[xvi].

The requirement for belonging determines the value of national spirits (volksgeist), which is the core of national spirits. National spirits in turn determine the national culture. National equality and national autonomy depend on the identification and enjoyment of national culture. The key here lies on national cultural self-determination. All cultures are equal in value and enjoy equal respect. Communities grow spontaneously. They are different but equal. Each is irreplaceable to the whole human society[xvii].

Belonging is one of our choices but not the only one. What makes it possible for us to choose is freedom. While pursuing affiliation we should balance it with individual freedom carefully in order to avoid affecting individual freedom. Though we acknowledge the shared features such as common region, religion, tradition, norms, customs and language, these common features can not replace individual’s personality. When not applied to individuals the term identity is outlined and inhuman. It is an ideological abstract of collectivism that enforced by some born creativity and all other none-inheritable factors, geological or social pressure. It abrogates individual’s precious freedom of what and how to choose if the cultural identity is enforced to individuals. Hence the free right of choice should be another aspect of national cultural rights.

National cultural rights negate cultural protectionism or cultural relativeness in veil of romanticism, which adheres to the superiority of local cultural institutions and opposes to reason. It denies the universality of formal reason and formal justice and relies on local culture to realize innovation. The academic arguments lie on the uniqueness of national cultural community supported by ethnics, cultural anthropology and national mythology. It claims that every society has its national features that can not and should not demolish. In the view of cultural protectionism there exist no universal human norms.

No culture remains unchangeable. None lasts forever especially those modern and vivid one. The national cultural right is by no means against the cultural development in line with the modernity, or it will be blocked and dying. In modern society while there is less and less specialty or locality and some traditional institution is disappearing, there are more chances than before for further development. The extremist protectionism reveals a kind of slack and unhistorical understanding toward culture. Only those who care for the destiny of national civilization and holds confidence in it can be a peaceful nation. The confidence comes from two parallel cultural processes. One is the abundant absorption of all creative elements from all other civilizations, the other one is to study comprehensively and innovate creatively its own national civilization. Serious self-criticism and self-enrichment are necessary. To a given nation these processes mean the raise of national reasonability to control its destiny and meet the challenges. To the whole world it means interactions that are critical to its further development. To sum up, national cultural rights underline the national cultural development rights.

Therefore, national cultural rights ague for not only the combination of uniqueness and universality, but also the unification of group value and individual freedom. It is a combination of individual rights and national collective rights. It embraces the self-determination right and independency under certain conditions. It focuses more on what base it relies, and on what kind of independence and self-determination it cherishes.

2.2 Culture-right-nationalism

National culture connects closely with nationalism. Elements of nationalism, such as national identity, national mobilization, national interests and political pursuit, are all based on national culture. C. J. Hayes wrote that “nationalism is a cultural phenomenon” [xviii]. Nationalism itself is not necessarily the threat to democracy. As a matter of fact the national identity in cultural sense is the necessary precondition to democracy (though not sufficient condition). Modern democracy requires some mass identity that the cultural nation can afford. Appealing to emotional loyalty, cultural nation is the most special and smallest community that covers all ages, sexes and classes. When he holds that nation is culture, Tamir also concludes that nationalism is cultural rights[xix].

It is worthwhile that nationalism in sense of cultural rights is not the cultural nationalism as understand. H. Kohn regards the “cultural nationalism” as a reactionary ideology and movement to Western nationalism in “The Idea of Nationalism”. Western nationalism is rational and political while the Eastern nationalism is cultural and mysterious. The copying reaction to Western rational culture is the weapon of backward society to compensate its psychological inferiority and humility when facing the more technologically advanced Western civilization[xx]. E. Gellner further argued that the cultural nationalism is the creation by intellectuals in backward society. It blocks the advancing and modernity of nations. A. D. Smith said that cultural nationalism airs obdurate society. It is the most conservative and anti-freedom kind of nationalism[xxi].

On the contrary, cultural-right-nationalism holds the disconnection between nationalism and traditional national self-determination. Just as Feliks Gross separates ethnicity from politics, the liberal way to resolve this knot is to separate nation-state from nation-culture. This is totally a new road toward liberalism[xxii]. He cites the Branislav Malinovski “cultural autonomous rights must be endowed to all nations, races and minority groups. Political rights shall by no means be connected with ethnicity, which will bring about the explosion of nationalist danger.” After all, nationalist fights for nation, instead of state; for all group interests that might be realized through state machine. Indeed the state is the protective shell for nation but it is not the exclusive way. More accurately the eventual aim of nationalism is to gain a cultural independence and cultural development though often through national self-determination and nation state. Hence the culture-right-nationalism acknowledges in one respect that the nationalist issue will not be resolved automatically with the growth of globalization, in another respect it tries to afford liberalist guidance in pursuing nationalist interests. It is mainly cultural, open and liberal nationalism.

Further this culture-right-nationalism takes the national culture as ends rather than means. Accordingly it takes the political pursuit as means to national culture. Now that nation is primarily a cultural phenomenon, the care for national destiny focuses on developing its culture peacefully, independently and prosperously. All political and economical pursuit shall serve this ultimate end. It is irrational and aimless if nationalist movement deviates from this ultimate end. A just world shall protect all cultures. Although some regional cultures are still subject to traditional religion, for example the Islam and Buddhism, their political choice must be changed. Culture-right-nationalism shall transcend the concern toward national destiny to some secular culture and modern political institutions, and eventually to a modern social ethnic system and “religion substitute”[xxiii].

Culture-right-nationalism affirms the necessity and significance of group value by emphasizing particularly on that they are necessary to the individual identity. National identity in culture-right-nationalism stresses that individualism rooted in groups. The most influential to individual is national culture. The critical point here is, now that the national culture is an important part to individual identity it deserves to be respected. A national culture deserves more respect when it promotes the individual freedom in free will, free choice and independent criticism. It deserves more respect when it cultivates a social system in which individual rights well protected. Individual determination is the most precious. National self-determination is precious only if it promotes the individual self-determination.

Essentially culture-right-nationalism stresses the independent rationality, consciousness and criticism spirits of individuals in a nation. While it cultivates national ideology it does not ignore other human values. it emphasizes the harmony between national collectivism and individualism. It links the national self-determination with individual self-determination, the external self-determination and internal self-determination. Thus culture-right-nationalism supports national self-determination under certain preconditions. Firstly, any national self-determination must be based on individual self-determination. Secondly, one must use legal, peaceful and rational methods to realize national self-determination. Under these two preconditions culture-right-nationalism makes liberalism and nationalism coexists. While it upholds the idea of preserving the uniqueness of nations it can also avoid the dangers of both the extremist political nationalism that over-emphasizes the national self-determination, and cultural nationalism that advocates cultural relativeness.

2.3 Political structure of culture-right-nationalism

The political idealism of culture-right-nationalism is a society composed of free and equal individuals. For majority this society is right their nation-state. The precious freedom and equality shall be realized in their own national culture. The tragedy is, for many nation-states, the freedom and belonging can not be combined together because of the rigidity of their political institutions. The founding of nation-state does not of itself bring about individual freedom and rights. And, whether they agree or not, many nations have to coexist with other nations within one political community for a long time esp. in context of the accelerating globalization. Hence the culture-right-nationalism shall not take nation-state as its exclusive way to realize national self-determination. It is in vain to take national self-determination as a unique and almighty pattern to achieve their idealism.

However the culturally homogeneous nation is closely connected with independency. This serves as the theoretical base for national self-determination. Whether the political institution is in accordance with the cultural rights or not, it depends on if and how the political institutions ensure the cultural independence and rights. This is critically important for the minority nationality. Presently the influential multi-cultural ideology based on liberalism might give more answers to this question. Is the federalism a possible solution to the coexistence of nationalities[xxiv]? The culture-right-nationalism pursues such a state: state is a union of individuals; rights and duties lie on individuals rather than collectives; the cultural variety and diversity are conditional. It is separated in the process of founding a state; it pursues the uniqueness within the context of universal rights; while it emphasizes the protection of national culture it pushes harder on cultural innovation; it is a synchronization of cultural reshape and political development.

Cultural rights are associated with the national political room based on struggling for universal rights. On one hand it demands for a liberal democracy to make vast identification and state devotion. On the other hand, it demands some mechanism to protect cultural diversity, political freedom and coexistence between ethnic groups. Two values are crucial: individual freedom and equality, and national belonging. Furthermore, this political institution demands more than those universal, basic and core values. It demands the shared procedures and game rules. It is not enforced; it is by the agreement of the majority citizens.

One of the influential ideas to protect the national cultural right is cultural autonomy suggested by earlier social democrats Otto Bauer and Karl Renner. Cultural autonomy is not a narrow concept limited by geography or language; it requires protection for freedom and, for individual and collective ethnic cultural rights. An authorized national cultural committee should be set up on the basis of individual choice in order to administer coordinate cultural affairs. Beside of that, an ethnic culture congress should also be set up to protect their ethnic and cultural institutions. “The Lund Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Public Life” was proclaimed in September 1999 by OSCE in Sweden. The suggestive principles focus on the balance between the effective state administration and minority identification.

On the multi-nationality state, Felix Gross put forward his citizen-state theory built on de-pliticalization of nation and civil society. The ethnic identity and ethnic belonging consciousness constitute the basic cultural sphere, which is the core of society cohesion. They shall be protected internally and externally. In this case the regional or local self-governance shall be adopted in terms of fully respecting the diversity and variety. While protecting the whole national cultural rights it also balances the unity and variety. Here it requires another identity that closely connected with the common state, the citizenship. All members of the ethnic groups are members of the state whose power is limited and checked by law. A consolidated citizenship is the reflection of the whole political culture, the reflection of the universal beliefs and values resulting from the norms and customs in handling the ethnic affairs. The state power stops at the religion and ethnic identity of citizens, as they are regarded as the personal privacy that can not be violated. This citizen-state is responsible to international organization and international law. At the same time the self-determination right shall be limited, because the unlimited and irresponsible appeal for national self-determination would surely disintegrate the political community. Further, Gross said, the citizenship is a basic institution for modern democracy, a fundamental political institution for multi-nationality state. The citizen state creates a new identity, a political identity separated from ethnic belonging consciousness and ethnicity. It is a shell for cultural diversities. It is a new kind of political relation, much more vast than ethnic relationship or regional relationship. The idea of citizen-state supplies a new way to separate ethnic identity from political identity, a new way to transfer kinship identity to political-regional identity[xxv].

3. Cultural Rights and Uyghur Nationalism movement

3.1 Xinjiang issue and Uyghur national movement

Xinjiang, or Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, founded in 1955, has 1.6 million square kilometers with majority population of Uyghur muslims. According to Chinese census among the whole population in Xinjiang there are 8.34 million Uyghurs, 43.3% of the whole[xxvi]. Almost all of them are Sunnis. There are other muslims as Kazaks, Kyrgyz, Tatars, and Uzbeks, who are turkeys like the Uyghurs. Tajik are white muslims. There are Chinese Hui muslim too. None-muslims are the growing Hans and some Mongolians and Tibetans.

In 1759 the Qianlong emperor of Qing dynasty conquered the whole Xinjiang area and set up military reign. In 1863 the turkeys in Xinjiang and Middle Asia overthrew the Qing reign in this area and founded an independent Islamic state. In 1876 General Zuo Zongtang re-conquered Xinjiang with his brave army and forced Xinjiang to become a Chinese province in 1884. In the early 20th century Xinjiang became the core of Chinese Russian conspiracy. With the Japanese invasion the Uyghurs in Xinjiang claimed an independent “East Turkistan” in 1944 under the full support of Soviet Union. In 1950 the Chinese Communists smashed the independence with the approval of Russians and Xinjiang again became part of China.

From early 1960s Beijing has long been encouraging Han immigrants to settle down in Xinjiang to ensure its reign. The Han population grows from 290,000 in 1949 to 8.28 million today, e.g. from less than 7% of the whole population to 43%[xxvii]. Since 1950s despite of the Chinese government brutal oppression Uyghur national resistant movements, peacefully or violently, never ceased. With the collapse of Soviet Union and the emergence of newly independent turkey national states near Xinjiang, the Uyghur national awareness awoke again. The Uyghur national movement or East Turkistan movement, mobilized by fierce separatism, has been developing fast and attracting more and more international cares.

The appeals of Uyghur nationalist can be sorted roughly into two parts. One demands true political autonomy and cultural protection through true democracy. The other one is separatistism. With the encouragement and help of oversea Uyghur nationalists, they hold the same aim with the autonomists but insist on total political separation with China. Some separatists are stick to peaceful separation while others believe in violence. Some are none-religious separatists pursuing independence; some are religious who follow Islamic fundamentalism[xxviii].

To Uyghur nationalists, the practical up-growing Uyghur separatist forces come from the following two sources:

First, there are huge national cultural differences. Among all the populous minorities the Uyghur is one of the most different. Historically the Uyghur identity has nothing to do with Chinese dynasties. China lost its control over this area during the critical period of 8th to 18th centuries when the Uyghur nation was formed. In contrast with the Mongolians and Manchurians, the Uyghur has never ruled China and thus less involved in Chinese culture. They are muslims and speak turkey. The oases in Xinjiang are regarded as the extension of Turkey. Among all the turkey-Islamic nations in Middle Asia, the Uyghur nation is a typical unique nation. The Uyghur takes Xinjiang as their motherland and Chinese are intruders. They can not identify themselves as a member of the Chinese family, nor endure Chinese rule in their motherland. Nor can they identify themselves as part of unified Chinese nation. A typical example comes from religion. According to an unexposed report conducted by Xinjiang Social Science Academy, over 95% Uyghurs identified themselves as Muslims and they attended religious activities eagerly, no matter in urban or rural areas, including some communist members. In some areas in Xinjiang, the shrike is more powerful than that of the communist officials. Some of them can even control local election and administration. Religiously Uyghurs rejected both the de-religiousness of Han culture and the communist unreligiousness. The so called cultural mixture is hardly the truth. Even more, with the actual religious oppression policy conducted by Chinese governments, the national barrier is growing and the gap is broadening.

Second, Chinese rulers (Manchuria, KMT, communist) has long been taking Xinjiang as a buffer area occupied by some alien nations to block Western enemies. China’s attitudes toward Xinjiang swings between marginalization and Hanization, e.g. isolation and assimilation. Both reflect the growing discredit and extreme fear toward the minorities. The principal policy here is to maintain control over this area. Economic development and national mixture are nothing but tools to serve this policy. From mid 18th to the end of 19th century the Manchurian tried to isolate Xinjiang from Chinese inland. When isolation malfunctioned and deduced separation, it swung to assimilation in order to eliminate or at least control the explosion of separatist movement. In one respect, assimilation means to reduce the Uyghur national features. In another respect, it means regional assimilation through immigration from inland China to mix and isolate the nations. Chinese government is highly involved in immigration in order to change the population structure and maintain stability in this area. Ironically nationality segregation and conflicts grow even serious in Xinjiang. The Han immigrants gather comparatively in certain areas in cities while in rural areas there is little nationality interchange except for some markets. The Production and Construction Militia are totally Han independent units. The immigration brings environment problems. With the explosion of immigrants, the population per kilometer in oases grows to 260, which causes the weak environment even worse: forests are fading; grasslands become deserts; lakes are shrinking; deserts are expanding. Immigrants compete for fortunes and resources with the local Uyghurs and cause more nationality problems.

Thirdly, with the ambiguous definition of terrorism, the Chinese government takes advantages to violate human rights in name of striking “violent terrorism” , without distinguishing the differences between peaceful demonstration and violent terrorism, nor between the organized terrorism and the accidental violence that resulted from religious, social or cultural issues.

There are following features of Uyghur nationalist movement: a) that, the pro-separation forces grows so fast that the worring Beijing adopts more brutal oppression. The conflicts might develop into a vicious cycle in future; b) religious force has a growing influence in Uyghur national movement. Religion is easily used to support Uyghur national movement especially for minority muslims in a none-muslim majority. It makes the situation far more complex and explosive; c) the geopolitics and international politics influence more and more over the Uyghur national movement. The Uyghur has long been connected and influenced by world powers in history. With the interaction of great powers and the change of political map in Mid Asia, the Xinjiang issue would easily transcend into an international clash; d) that, the destiny of Uyghur national movement is of high uncertainty influenced by Chinese development. China has been growing fast and changing comprehensively. The uncertain future of China holds the key to the destiny of Uyghur nation.

3.2 The national separation

The Chinese, the Uyghur nationalists and the world community should be aware that, if the impending threatens to Uyghur cultural survival does not move away, the Xinjiang issue will continue exist. The coexistence of political community and cultural nation depends on the accurate contents of national cultural autonomy regulated by Chinese political institutions. It depends also on what political resources the Uyghur has to ensure its cultural autonomy and cultural independence.

For the Uyghur nationalists, one of the choices is to break away from the current regime and found a culturally homogeneous political unit. This would push the separatist movement higher to split this multi-nationality China.

However, it seems that this choice is impractical and too costly to bear. First, the creation of a new nation-state is a disavowal to former regime and, unavoidably involved with violence and conflicts. China would by no means accept it to destroy its sovereignty and national interests. It is impossible to separate from China peacefully. Unless there is immense changes happened in world structure and inside China concurrently, e.g. the total disintegration of Chinese regime, the extreme separatism will surely lead to violence and war. This is also a disaster to Uyghur nationalism. “If the war creates nation, it destroys nation too”[xxix]. For international community, it can not supply any definite support to Uyghur separatism in the foreseeable future. While the international community acknowledges and supports self-determination, too it will maintain the international order and stability de facto to avoid international conflicts resulted from pro-separation nationalist movement. Second, the sovereignty principle is universally recognized. When facing the dilemma, the majority would prefer to sustain the sovereignty de facto rather than the self-determination unless the weak minority endures unbearable injustice and can not be resolved through peaceful means, or not heavily costly. Last, the subject of self-determination is nation instead of the whole people. The Uyghur separatism must take into consideration of other nations’ interests in multi-nationality Xinjiang where other populous nations exist. It is too complicated and too difficult to resolve.

More importantly, national separation might not be the best choice for Uyghur nation itself. There is born defects in the self-determination theory. When the separation through self-determination becomes the unique end of nationalists, they must make all the members believe that the only way to end up the sorrows and injustice, which derived form the oppressions by major nationality in a state, is to fight for a new nation-state. Here, the nationalists must afford guidance to its utopia, that is, a nation-state without oppression or torture through separation. As we argued before, the cultural nation and political state can not be identified each other. The former stresses culture while the later emphasizes politics and law. If we identify nation to state, the nationalist would certainly require all members of a state to bear the same language, culture, religion and even the same ethnic, beside of the same political-legal characteristics. This ideology will surely induce extremist nationalism and even racial cleansing.

For Uyghur nationalists, the internal self-determination should be assured the same time the external self-determination achieved. However, separation from China will not assure automatically the liberal democracy protecting the uniqueness of national culture and individual rights. And, when the cultural differences involve into political game, emotional and irrational elements would surely function. When separation becomes the unique target, there would be no room for compromise and fierce political and military conflicts would be inevitable. Under such occasion the nationalists would mobilize its people with weapons such as emotion, beliefs and slogans instead of prudent rationality. This is a cultural, mysterious trap that Hans Kohn described. Here, nationalism justified itself by ancient legacy and future utopia. It creates a utopian state closely connected with past instead of present reality. It strives to realize it some time in future[xxx]. Such kind of nationalism is surely an authoritarian regime, closed and backward. It fights against universality with uniqueness. During this process individual rights and value would be ignored or abandoned because it does not fit for the holy course. At the same time the development of nation would be looked down upon in pursuing a nation-state.

3.3 The prospect of Uyghur nationalism—an answer of culture-right-nationalism

Until quite recently, Western scholars have tended to accept the Chinese representation of non-Han groups as marginalized minorities. Dru C. Gladney challenges this simplistic view, arguing instead that the very oppositions of majority and minority, primitive and modern, are historically constructed and are belied by examination of such disenfranchised groups as Muslims, minorities, or gendered others[xxxi]. Hence the Xinjiang issue, with the core of Uyghur nationalism, should be resolved peacefully with the cooperation between China and Uyghur nation. This depends on the effective protection for Uyghur and other national minorities in Xinjiang. It also depends on a political structure to realize the minority cultural rights. In turn a liberal democracy based on universal values such as limited state power, individual freedom and rights, civil society, instead of cultural national identities, should be established. China must push forward political reform to fit for the new situation. On the other hand, the Uyghur should give up “one nation, one state” ideology and violence. While seeking to protect and develop its national rights, it should bear in mind the difference between national identity and political identity and, try to realize its national interests through cultural rights. It should seek for international surveillance on Chinese government to protect the national culture, the minority autonomy and human rights effectively while acknowledging the Chinese sovereignty.


China should be aware that the separatism is in fact the crisis of state identity resulted from the illegitimacy of the current regime. The legitimacy of a given political system is related with the perception and beliefs among its members. The members think it to be proper. They believe the structure and institution of the system. They acknowledge the political regime in a certain limited area. The state should adjust itself in line with the social value and norms to maintain its legitimacy, because the society instead of the state has the final say. It is the same to nations. If a nation regards the state unfit for its national interests and values, the state legitimacy perishes.

Easton divides the political system into three levels: political community, political institutions and the authority[xxxii]. Political legitimacy can be analyzed by these three levels. The support to political community is often called state identity. State identity crisis is the top legitimacy crisis. The political institution crisis and the authority crisis are less dangerous. Separatism belongs to the first level. It holds that the group or national interests could not be realized or maintained unless an independent state community be founded to safeguard its interests.

The essence of diversified democracy is to put the state identity on the basis of universal cultural and political identity that transcend beyond nation or group identity. There exist problems in current Chinese political arrangement to win the general state identity. It is not only reflected in the conflicts between nationalities but also in areas where the Han nationality composes the majority, e.g. Taiwan and Hong Kong. To realize political independency Taiwan tries exhaustedly and in some sense ridiculously to form its own cultural specifics from the common culture matrix in the veil of “de-Chinesization”. This reveals that the essence of China identity lies not on the external ethnic identity crisis but on the internal political system. Ironically it is in Hong Kong and Taiwan where peoples pursue political independence and autonomy, that Chinese traditional culture is better preserved than that in communist mainland. Therefore, the state identity crisis reflected in separatism shall not be resolved through compulsory assimilation.

China should be aware of the immense nationalist powers. Without hope to achieve nationalist interests peacefully, the nationalist separatism will not be ceased under merciless pressure; instead it will become the absolute value shared by most of a given minority, encouraging them to sacrifice for the holy course. Hence force and oppression is absolutely not a proper policy to resolve the Xinjiang issue in a long term. It is also dangerous to encourage Han immigrants in order to control Xinjiang forever. History proves that this policy brought only more segregation and conflicts. The Uyghurs will certainly resist it for fear of being marginalized. Another “West Bank” or a new “Palestine” bloody tragedy might appear in Xinjiang if this essential policy is not revised.

Also, the sovereignty is not the safe shell for China to resist external pressure on Chinese nationality issue. There are some essential values such as individual rights, constitutionality, limited government and human rights that are shared by international society. China can not escape from these duties that regulated by various international agreements that a sovereign state should obey. If China continues to explore advantage from the political dominance of the major nationality to enforce the minorities to accept the core value of the majority culture, the minority shall have the right to launch political movement to resist the threats. Even if China grows more powerful, even if China relies on the majority nationalism to oppress the minorities, it can not find a long and stable basis for its political legitimacy. The only long lasting legitimacy comes from freedom, equality, human rights and rule of law.

The problem can not be resolved if these institutions exist only literally. The measurement of progress lies not on the compulsory political explanations rather, it lies on the individual destiny. The relationship between state and individual is the touchstone for political systems. If literally protecting the rights of language, customs of minorities, at the same time denouncing free speech, free association, free publishing and free express, there would not be true state identity form groups or nationalities. Individual rights is an integrated whole including freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of language and freedom of religion, etc. No freedom of speech or express, there would be no ground for using mother language; it is impossible to endure minority folks and arts without endurance to thought and religion[xxxiii].

It is truly difficult for China to resolve these problems but it is by no means at end of its wits to figure out a policy.

First, adjust the state behavior to fit the requirements from various nationalities and cultural groups. This is called by Easton “peculiar support”, e.g. export directly from given political system to win support from given groups or nations. “One country, two systems” is a typical example to give “peculiar support” to the former colonies of Taiwan and Hong Kong. The state should make some system arrangement to ensure the minority rights including the effective political participation in state and local levels: 1) to ensure the minority groups enjoy the right to express their interests in the central government level; 2) to ensure the minority right of election without discrimination; 3) to ensure the transparency and participation of minorities in regional and local political structure and decision-making process; 4) to set up consultant and negotiation institutions to maintain a fluent channel between the government and the minority groups. The Uyghurs should be granted some special rights in education, natural resources, rigid immigration and non-controlled birth. These measures will ensure the cultural rights of minorities in political structure and will lead to some mechanism and procedures to resolve the conflicts peacefully.

The second one is to reform state system to synchronize various cultures and promote the interests channels to assure identity. This is what Easton called “universal support”. The key to prohibit separatism is to strengthen the state community identity from all nationalities. This means the state value system is in harmony with nationality one so that the national interests could be well protected. For a multi-nationality state this means a value system shared by all nationalities. To achieve this target we must form a comprehensive culture that accepted by all nationalities. It is based on reason and universal humanity in order to build up an open, diversified and advancing society to enhance the general freedom and individual rights. It promotes the diversities of different cultures and leaves large political room for the further development of cultures. These rights shall not be violated: individuals to choose their way of life; individuals or groups enjoy the rights of free thought; to stick to their own chosen culture, religion and philosophy; to assemble freely; to hold their own value system and behavior standards. These rights are particularly imperative in China when protecting the groups and national cultures. Unless igniting crimes or hurt others, speech shall be free, or unconditional free.


For Uyghur nationalists, it is important to be aware that national independence is, if not absolutely impossible presently, too expensive to cost and harmful to the fundamental interests of their nation. And, they also should be aware of the potential danger. As a matter of fact the founding of a nation-state is not necessarily a shortcut to ensure their rights and prosperity.

Compromise sounds unsatisfactory to many of the Uyghur nationalists to reach their idealized expectation. However compromise is an important method to push democracy and peace. Usually compromise is a rational result of forces and careful consideration that could be accepted by both. Culture-right-nationalism requires that national self-determination be based on the individual self-determination by legal, peaceful and rational measures at its best. Thus it could be served as the basis for Uyghur nation to get a deal with China. The Uyghur nationalist should support and cooperate with the pro-democracy movement, even if it can not get support for its separatism in return. At the same time the Uyghur nationalist should use every opportunity to appeal for its cultural rights peacefully, to demand for true national autonomy, and, to share the benefit of Chinese modernity. In this way the culture-nationalism will surely win international sympathy and support if the Uyghur nationalists struggle peacefully, for the core value of culture-nationalism stands in line with the universal norms such as protecting diversities and individualism.

In turn, on the basis of cultural rights the Uyghur nation should promote “cultural development” and “political development” in order to realize a new nationality identity and state identity.

Culture-right-nationalism is consisted of special national rights and national cultural developing rights in terms of national identity. This demands that the nationalism must take individual rights as its core value, take individual liberation as its end. The collective rights shall not displace individual rights. Hence the Uyghur nationalists meet not only the task of protecting their traditional culture but also to develop it, which is much more crucial. The specialty of Uyghur national culture should not only be dug out and preserved, but also be promoted to a higher level of cultural identity and refreshment.

Development itself leads a standard to measure the progress and this standard can only grow from universal rights. In Europe and North America, nationalism goes together with the changing social, economical and political reality. It takes rationality and general humanism as its theoretical base, relates itself closely with democracy, liberalism and constitutionality, aims to individual liberation. However in Eastern countries, nationalism emphasizes on its cultural specialty and opposes openness. The protection to culture characteristics, including religion, language and living norms, should go in accordance with cultural innovation such as pursuing universal cultural rights to realize its political, economical and cultural self-determination. Culture protection is not identified with cultural conservatism or cultural relativeness. The culture-nationalism takes individualism as its root to achieve new association of new individuals. Its core is to refresh the national common idea. The common dominant ideal determines, in a large sense, the features of the given nationalism. The rational, liberal nationalism argues for free constitutionality and against authoritarianism or pluradlism. Rational nation is the result of rational mass, and rational mass come from education. Education by no means identifies to infusing. Instead, it leads to independent criticism and judgment among various contradictory arguments.

Language and letter is the important carrier of culture. It reflects the cultural contents of a given nation and it is also the symbol of history continuity and cultural independence. Language is not the culture itself however it can be used to convey values and thoughts. It should be noted that over-emphasis on national education specialty would damage the modern education[xxxiv]. The Uyghur nationalists should work to expand Uyghur culture by absorbing the modern civilization in order to educate modern Uyghur elites. The modern history proves that the colonial education incited the awakening of nationalism and intellectuals who had modern education are the pioneers and nucleus of nationalist movement.

On the issue of state identity, the Uyghur nation faces a transition from tradition to modernity. Modernity refers to cultural phenomenon connected with modernization. It resembles the new appearance of the former authoritarian structure and the birth of modern state. In pre-modern countries religion assumes the function of morality, economy, politics and education. The mysterious legitimacy supported the social morality and political beliefs. Modern countries are totally different from the pre-modern countries in social, cultural and legal terms. It destroys the legitimacy of power and authority in traditional society and creates diversities in religion, values, political parties and interests groups. Self-government to limit the conflicts between social members displaced the former absolutism. Rationality displaced the mythology; self-restraints replace the supernatural constraints; history relativeness displaced the absolute theology. The legitimacy of state comes from the permit of the people instead of the gods. Individualism, natural rights, equality before the law, power distribution between central and local governments under the direction of federalism…

The Uyghur nationalism should be aware that individual rights are more basic, absolute and none-volatile in comparison with state power. The pursuit for independent state should promote rather than violate individualism. In any case, there should be no illusion on omnipotent state during their struggling for national independence. It is dangerous to think that an independent state can resolve every problem. It is imperative to keep an eye on the state power, not only to prevent it from doing harm but also doing good as well[xxxv].

For the Uyghur nationalists, another important and practical task is to cultivate an independent, diversified, vivid and powerful civil society. If the misery comes only from external oppression the extremist political might work. However, internal elements such as cultural tradition, social structure and life style hamper the development too.

To sum up, the culture-nationalism pursues such a state that it does not take the common ancestors or origins as its base, nor take the national cultural tradition and inner resources as its legitimacy. It discriminates the state identity from national identity. It upholds a new identity, a new devotion to a integer that unifies various races and cultures, a devotion to a integer that identified and loved by all or majority, a devotion beyond races and ethnics. This common identity will exceed the narrow racial identity or religious identity. It is independent from the ethnic belongings, religion, culture and race. It is a concept, a sort of systems in connection with every individual rights and freedom. This higher identity is based on the universal and essential values shared by all nations. It is these basic and essential values that consolidate the foundation of liberal democratic states.

The international community

Minority political rights and cultural rights are basic human rights that all states are legally obliged to protect. These rights are listed in the United Nations Charter and other important international treaties such as “The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights” and “The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”. “Preamble of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” adopted by UN Assembly in December 12 1992 is one of the most popular documents currently protecting the minority rights. The Declaration grants to persons belonging to minorities “the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion and to use their own language in private and in public”; “the right to establish and maintain their own associations”. States are to protect and promote the rights of persons belonging to minorities “to exercise their rights, individually as well as in community with other members of their group, without discrimination”.  This supplies the legal base for the international community to survey human rights and civil rights issues in a sovereign state. China has signed on these documents and thus has the obligation to be checked by the international community. In turn the international community is responsible to survey China human rights affairs.

The Xinjiang issue is closely connected with the political freedom and civil rights through out the whole country. Chinese government shall not justify its violation on human rights with the excuse of fighting against terrorism, whose definition should be in line with the international norms and standards. As a matter of fact, the Chinese government is now prosecuting minority dissidents mercilessly in the name of anti-terrorism. International community should condemn explicitly the large quantities of penalty on the peaceful dissidents by Beijing. Beijing shall not abridge the rights of express if the separatists demonstrate peacefully.

The international community should also monitor Chinese government to realize the autonomous rights and other freedoms such as religion, culture and languages listed on its constitution. The Chinese government should adopt necessary policies to restrain the immigration in Xinjiang and protect the economic and resource interests of local minorities.


            In recent years, as the world anti-terrorism situation continuously to be tension some radical Uyghur Nationalists and their organizations became the targets by the United States and China as terrorists.  However the mainstream of Uyghur Nationalism Movement claims that they are not terrorism but a people who are building their national identity. Meanwhile, the Chinese central government denies the Uyghur people as an independent nation but one of ethnic groups in China.     Some scholars believe that the Uyghur problem will not be automatically resolved given the current circumstances as long as its roots, namely cultural and other perceived existential threats to the Uyghur people remain unattended.  In fact the history of the world demonstrated that ethnic issues almost never fade away under conditions of neglect, nor will be they disappeared through economic development alone[xxxvi].

Dr. Dru Gladney, the famous Professor of Asian Studies and Anthropology at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, once told the author that although attempts to find solutions to this very difficult and important issue have been made by scholars,  more practical suggestions would be useful rather than a general appeal for people to stress common human concerns, such as the solutions on what common concerns shared by Uyghur, Hui, Kazakh, and Han in Xinjiang, as opposed to the typical Uyghur vs. Han (outside Xinjiang) approach.[xxxvii] 

Various approaches, such as political rights, economical rights, ethnical identity power, etc. have been created to understand nationalism and nationalist movement. Cultural rights are viewed as most important foundation for nationalism in the post-modern time.  It is clear that although the Uyghur Nationalism Movement has been widely noticed by the international society, its targets yet need to be readjusted to be more rationale and practical in terms of available resources and according to the world social political situations as well as the China domestic situations.

The Uyghur Nationalists should rise above their cultural nationalisms (race and ethnicity and emphasize a common humanity with the Han, as well as other ethnic groups live in Xinjiang.  It is also important that the Uyghur nationalists to stress their "common humanity" from outside Xinjiang, where Uyghurs within the region feel that they are in danger of losing their culture and autonomy entirely.  Indeed, critiques of the "multi-culturalism" approach in the US (which emphasize a sort of Benetton-like 'celebration of diversity' and masked race- and ethnic-based stratification) were particularly clear that such an emphasis can be used by the state to justify their oppression of minorities and sub-groups.  Clearly, if everyone is ethnic there is no reason to recognize the oppression of ethnic people by a majority-based state.[xxxviii]  

It is suggested that Uyghur nationalist movement should realize that their objectives need to be adjusted given the current international situation and their limited resources.  To fight for their cultural rights at this time is more reasonable and attainable for the Uyghur nationalist movement than to claim the independence immediately.  It is also suggested that the Chinese central government should be more tolerable and flexible in terms of Uyghur nationalist movement towards its cultural rights. As long as the both sides are willing to deal with the nationalism through the approach of cultural rights a win-win situation is expected to be realized.   

· Dr. Robert Tian, a Professor of Business Administration at Coker College (SC, USA), has about 20 years experience in regional economical development studies and cultural conflict research. He is mainly interested in cross-cultural issues in business intelligence and had actively involved in policy analysis and decisions making for the State Council of the People’s Republic of China while the Executive Director of the National West China Development Studies Center. He publishes in the journal of High Plains Applied Anthropologist, North American Journal of Psychology, Database Marketing, Journal of Food Products marketing, , and the Journal of American Academy of Business (Cambridge)etc.  The author thanks Dr. Dru Gladney, a professor of Asian Studies at University of Hawaii, Dr. S. Frederick Starr, a professor of Asian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, and Mr. Enver Can, President of East Turkestan (Uyghuristan) National Congress (the umbrella body of the Uyghur groups abroad) among many others for their critic reviews and constructive suggestions. 

Social Marketing Mix Strategy and Structure:
Towards an Anthropological Approach


Social marketing is a cross-filed new area of social science, which studies how to improve the overall life quality of human beings through adopting marketing strategies and skills without aiming at making profits.  Although the basic concepts are identical the principles of social marketing differ from commercial marketing in various perspectives.  It is very important that social marketers become aware of these differences and implementing social marketing strategy alternatively.  Anthropology of social marketing helps social marketers to apply anthropological theories and methods into their social marketing practice.

Key Words:  Anthropology, Consumer, Marketing Mix, Social Marketing


Social marketing is a relatively new discipline that was created in the 1970s, when the famous marketing scholar Philip Kotler and the famous sociologist Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors.[1]  Social marketing is defined as differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.[2]  Social marketing techniques are used extensively in international health programs, especially for contraceptives and oral rehydration therapy (ORT), and are being used with more frequency in the United States for such diverse topics as drug abuse, heart disease and organ donation.[3]

The effectiveness of social marketing relies heavily on techniques from marketing that are used to persuade consumers to purchase products and services.  In addition to various kinds of advertising, strategies of market segmentation, product design, etc. can be valuable. Paralleling much mainstream marketing, the primary focus of social marketing is upon the consumer.  Like mainstream marketing the planning process of social marketing takes the elements of the “marketing mix” which refers to 1) the conception of a Product, 2) Price, 3) distribution (Place), and 4) Promotion. As discussed earlier the marketing mix is often called the “Four Ps” of marketing. [4]

Product   In social marketing the product may not be necessarily a physical offering. A continuum of products existing for social marketing can range from tangible, physical products (such as an air purifier), to services (such as medical exams), practices (such as breastfeeding, ORT or eating a heart-healthy diet), and still more intangible ideas (such as don’t drink when you driving).  Targeted individuals must first perceive that they have a genuine problem which needs to be solved, and that the product offering is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers’ perceptions of the problem and the need for a solution to it.  Thus, do the problems of heavy drinking outweigh the benefits of maintaining a preferred lifestyle?

Price   In social marketing “price” refers to what the consumer must trade off in order to obtain s benefit. This cost may be monetary, or it may instead require the consumer to give up intangibles, such as time or effort, abandoning a beloved activity, or to risk embarrassment and disapproval. If the costs outweigh the benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted. However, if the benefits are perceived as greater than the costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product will be much greater.

For a social marketer to determine a price, particularly for a physical product, there are many issues which need to be considered. If the product is priced too low, or provided free of charge, the consumer may perceive it as being low in quality. On the other hand, if the price is too high, some will not be able to afford it.  As such social marketers must balance the considerations from all directions, and often end up charging at least a nominal fee to increase perceptions of quality and to confer a sense of “dignity” to the transaction. Unlike the practice in mainstream marketing, in social marketing the perceptions of costs and benefits can be determined through research, and used in positioning the product.

Place    As in mainstream marketing, social marketing products and services must reach the consumer in some manner. For a tangible product, some channel of distribution must be employed.  For an intangible product, place is less clear-cut, but refers to decisions about the channels through which consumers are reached with information or training. This may include doctors’ offices, shopping malls, mass media vehicles or in-home demonstrations. Another element of place is deciding how to ensure accessibility of the offering and quality of the service delivery. By determining the activities and habits of the target audience, as well as their experience and satisfaction with the existing delivery system, researchers can pinpoint the most ideal means of distribution for the offering.

Promotion  The fourth “P” is most dynamic in the social marketing mix.  Because of its visibility, promotion is often mistakenly treated as comprising the entirety of social marketing , but in fact it is only one of the four Ps. Promotion consists of the integrated use of advertising, public relations, promotions, media advocacy, personal selling and entertainment vehicles. The focus is on creating and sustaining demand for the product.  Except for public service announcements or paid ads there are many other methods in promotion of a social marketing product, such as coupons, media events, editorials, “Tupperware”-style parties or in-store displays. Research is crucial to determine the most effective and efficient vehicles to reach the target audience and increase demand. Promotion must be culturally appropriate to succeed; this reality creates an important role for anthropologists.
In addition to the traditional marketing mix, social marketing adds another four Ps, which are publics, partnership, policy, and purse strings.  Publics refer to both the external and internal groups involved in the social marketing program. Social marketers often need to deal with many different audiences in order to be successful. External publics include the target audience, secondary audiences, policymakers, and gatekeepers, while the internal publics are those who are involved in some way with either approval or implementation of the program. Partnership refers to cooperation among various participants, because social and health issues are often so complex that one agency cannot make succeed alone and need to collaborate to be effective.  As such, it is necessary for social marketers to build linkages with likeminded institutions.

Policy refers to the fact that social marketing programs support policies. Often, policy change is needed so that programs can be effective.  Thus, if AIDS/HIV is to be combated via a social marketing program emphasizing condom use, social and governmental policies may need to be altered in order to facilitate such strategies.   Purse strings refer to the funds that are available for social marketing programs. Most organizations that develop social marketing programs operate through funds provided by sources such as foundations, governmental grants or donations. Restrictions on funding add another dimension to strategy development.[5]

Principles of Social Marketing

Social marketing is not just simply the application of commercial marketing techniques to achieving socially desirable goals. Rather, social marketing is the application of the marketing concept, commercial marketing techniques, and other social change techniques to achieve individual behavior changes and societal structural changes that are consistent with the wellbeing of a target market.  Like mainstream marketing, social marketing has its own principles that need to be discussed.

Social marketing depends on two fundamental assumptions. The first is that some behaviors can be changed and are worth changing for improving individuals’ quality of life which in turn will improve the life quality for the whole society.  The second basic assumption is that society as a whole or the representatives of the whole society will be responsible for helping individuals to make the choices that are in their own best interests and those of society.[6]  What is implied in these two ideas is the notion that to be successful, social marketing must be undertaken professionally, by “educated, well-intentioned professionals; they are best able to effectively address a variety of societal problems and, in so doing, successfully improve the lives of specific communities within society, either domestically or abroad.”[7]

According to Gwynne, these two basic assumptions demonstrate the fact that most frequent users of social marketing techniques are either public or private organizations that responsible for protecting and enhancing the public welfare.  Multilateral aid organizations, governments at various levels, and social welfare organizations, especially NGOs devoted to social wellbeing through the promotion of specific plans, mainly rely on social marketing campaigns to get messages that are socially beneficial across to the public, often to specific subgroups, such as many NGOs in the United States and elsewhere dedicated to making birth control information and suppliers available to poor, undereducated women.[8]

In her discussion of social marketing, applied anthropologist Gwynne suggests that some social marketing efforts are designed to promote specific beneficial behaviors while others are intended to discourage specific harmful behaviors, the beneficial behavior include such as observing the speed limit and maintaining environment clean, while the harmful behaviors include such as smoking and heavy drinking.  For the latter, the efforts of social marketing are intended to reduce behaviors that pose a threat to individuals or society at large.  This is often called countermarketing or demarketing.   According to Gwynne, the choice of positive promotion versus countermarketing relies on the problem being addressed and its context.  In industrialized settings, such as the United States, most social marketing efforts have been countermarketing oriented aimed at deterring specific behaviors, while in the developing countries, social marketing efforts would be more typically promote specific behaviors.  For example although social marketers in both industrialized and developing country settings focus on at-risk groups, campaigns in the United States are apt to be designed to  stop drunk driving or reduce smoking, while in developing countries typical goals focus upon issues such as  promoting prenatal care for expectant mothers, early childhood immunization, and so forth. [9]

The difference between the developed and developing country settings is not only due to the fact that they are beset by different kinds and degrees of social problems, but also due to the different kinds of information available in these two settings.  For instance, because their health education has been either inadequate or nonexistent many residents of developing countries literally do not possess the information about health behavior that Westerners take for granted.  [10]

Lars Perner, a marketing professor at Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, suggests that social marketing involves providing ideas to consumers rather than selling something. He uses the story of Marty Fishbein as an example to demonstrate his argument.  Fishbein, a marketing professor, went on sabbatical to work for the Centers for Disease Control trying to reduce the incidence of transmission of diseases through illegal drug use. It was also determined that the practice of sharing needles was too ingrained in the drug culture to be stopped. Fishbein created a campaign that encouraged the cleaning of needles in bleach before sharing them, a goal that was believed to be more realistic.[11]

Exchange theory, a popular concept in economics and marketing, emphasizes that people will pay only as much as they think a product is worth. Just as mainstream advertisers rely on exchange theory to assess the most appropriate pricing for a specific product; social marketing professionals use this theory to evaluate what a public service is worth to its potential beneficiaries, usually in non-monetary terms.  The “price” of getting free food via food stamps, for example, might be a loss of self-esteem.  However, these feelings can be addressed by social marketing program in order to make the needed more willing to receive aid.[12]

Anthropological Approach to Social Marketing

Social marketing adopts theories and concepts from commercial marketing, economics, psychology, and anthropology.  All marketing seeks to influence consumers’ voluntary behavior.[13]  This voluntary behavior takes place within a particular cultural context providing a role for anthropological analysis.  Social marketing involving breast cancer screening for older women, for example, might include the following elements: The product could be any of these three behaviors: getting an annual mammogram, seeing a physician each year for a breast exam and performing monthly breast self-exams. The price of engaging in these behaviors includes the monetary costs of the mammogram and exam, potential discomfort and/or embarrassment, time and even the possibility of actually finding a lump. The place that these medical and educational services are offered might be a mobile van, local hospitals, clinics and worksites, depending upon the needs of the target audience. Promotion could be done through public service announcements, billboards, mass mailings, media events and community outreach.[14]

In addition to the commercial marketing mix principle, Weinreich discusses an alternative 4 Ps for the social marketing of breast cancer screening campaign for older women, which are publics, partnerships, policy, and purse strings.  The publics that the social marketers might need to address include the target audience (low-income women age 40 to 65), the people who influence their decisions like their husbands or physicians, policymakers, public service directors at local radio stations, as well as the board of directors and office staff.  Partnerships could be cultivated with local or national women’s groups, corporate sponsors, medical organizations, and service clubs or media outlets.  The policy aspects of the campaign might focus on increasing access to mammograms through lower costs, requiring insurance and Medicaid coverage of mammograms or increasing federal funding for breast cancer research. And the purse strings, or where the funding will come from, may be governmental grants, such as from the National Cancer Institute or the local health department, foundation grants or an organization like the American Cancer Society. Of course, each of these social marketing mix elements should be taken into consideration as the program is developed, for they are the core of the social marketing effort. Research is used to clarify and shape the final product, price, place, promotion and related decisions.[15]

Because the beneficial changes that social marketers intend to bring about often involve changing individuals’ ways of life, a subtle and complex cultural understanding may be essential.  Western culture, for example, embodies a specific cultural model of physical beauty, which is associated with particular collective ideas and values, such as youth is more beautiful than old age.  Social marketing professionals must explicitly consider not only the overall cultural context, but also cultural models while attempting to get people to alter their behavior. 

As usual, identify cultural models and other social influencers is the major role of anthropology in social marketing.  By adopting anthropological cultural models and  analytical tools,  the social marketer will be able to identify the social and/or cultural factors that influence the behavior that is targeted for change and contribute to strategy formation Moreover, by using the information they collected in different cultural models the social marketers are able to design their campaigning materials that will be most effective.[16] 

Barg and Grier, for example, researched how Afro American women relate to breat cancer.  Their findings reveal a cultural model based on perceptions of ‘difference’ in the way they perceive and experience breast cancer. They suggest that cultural cues that are embedded in social marketing communications may be internalized and motivating in unintended ways. Therefore, in this case, it is very important that marketers understand cultural differences for the development of persuasive breast cancer communications that can contribute to the greater control of health disparities.[17] These examples clearly reflect the significance of cultural models in shaping individuals’ behavior.

Gwynne argues that social marketing, like commercial marketing, is a natural fit for applied anthropologists. She further argues that cultural models can be used to both negative and positive effect such as to encourage smoking or to discourage cocaine use.  Applied anthropologists are increasingly in demand to help design and implement effective social marketing messages because of their unique ability to identify and draw on people’s cultures, beliefs, and values.[18]  More specifically, the applied anthropologists can help improving the effectiveness of social marketing by developing strategies that will lead to the success of social marketing programs  by identifying the likely early adopters of specific new behaviors; crafting effective ways to describe the advocated behavior change so that the benefits of change are understood; and helping to select and train those who will directly implement the program.[19]

Social marketing embraces many of the strategies of marketing, in general, but the process is somewhat distinct.  It includes at least these five steps, namely, 1) identify the problems that need to be solved, 2) conduct background research, 3) design a solution that will reach a group of people who are negatively affected by the problem, 4) implement the solution by raising awareness and creating demand, and 5) evaluate the outcome of the project.  Each will be briefly discussed.[20] 

Identifying the Problem:   Initially,  social marketers need to develop a description of the social problem to be addressed and a compelling rationale for addressing it.  Perhaps a SWOT analysis (that juxtaposes strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats)  will identify  goals and targets.  This can lead to the formation of a strategic team.  [21]

Background Research:   This is the key to successful social marketing; anthropologists can use techniques such as documentary research, informant interviews, participant observation, focus groups, and surveys[22] In unique and relevant ways.   Nutritionists, for example, may be unable to transform people’s eating habits unless the people’s culinary habits are understood.[23]According to Gwynne, one of the most important parts of the background research is to define the target to which the effort will be directed.  As such, a specific social marketing program strategy not only requires the researcher to differentiate among large social and/cultural groups, but also to take care of sub-cultural difference between various segments.[24]     

Margaret Gwynne and her colleagues conducted such background research in support of a social marketing effort for the benefit of a public health care program in the small West Indian island nation of St. Lucia, in the Eastern Caribbean.  Their findings demonstrate that most St. Lucians have a strong preference for private medical care over public care. Their anthropological background information gave St. Lucian health officials something to work with as they proceeded to develop a social marketing campaign to sell the idea of National Health Insurance.[25]

Designing a Solution   After having completed the background research and having defined the target crowd, social marketing professionals need to use the research results framing a solution to the problem, which in the anthropological perspective must include culturally appropriate solutions to specific problems.  Sometimes the solution is a concrete item to be used by the primary target audience for their benefit, such as a water purification tablet.[26]  In the process of designing a solution, social marketing professionals may feel that in order to avoid costly mistakes, they need to test the efficacy of their design prior to implementing their solution on a large scale. Pilot projects, limited in scope and in the expenditure of resources, are therefore sometimes undertaken as test cases.  The pilot project helps identify both the strengths and the weaknesses of the project design in time to make any needed changes.[27]

When social marketing involves encouraging people to use a specific item, an important part of the effort is to design a product that is appealing, and then giving it a name, packaging it creatively in a way that will make it attractive to its target crowd. This might be of particular interest to anthropologists because of cultural meaning.  Sometimes the solution is a specific activity that would benefit the primary target crowd if it replaced an alternative behavior, for example, breast-feeding as opposed to bottle-feeding a baby.  Sometimes the solution might be a social service, such as earlier child education, from which members of the primary target crowd would benefit if they could be persuaded to avail themselves of it.[28]

Social marketing professionals heavily rely on concepts and methods drawn from behavioral psychology and commercial advertising to design culturally appropriate solutions to specific problems. Theorists in these areas have discovered, for example, that decision making is a process, not an event.  As a person decided to purchase something or to accept a new idea, he or she goes through a set series of steps, called a hierarchy of effects.[29] The sequence varies depending on the decision to be made, and even the steps themselves vary. 

Implementing the Solution   Social marketers need to efficiently implement the solution by creating a demand upon finishing the solution design. The implementation consists of two separate steps:  first, raising the awareness of members of the target crowd about both the problem and the proposed solution, and second, encouraging members of the target crowd to adopt the solution.  In order to accomplish these two tasks, social marketers must determine the media strategy, the vehicle or channel to be used for conveying the information about the solution to the target groups.  Decisions depend upon cultural implications and represent a major part of the social marketing work by applied anthropologists.  The demand for the solution will be increased if both the message and the channel are appealing and culturally appropriate.[30]

In terms of advertising and promotion, there are no hard and fast rules about the channels used in social marketing efforts.  Most social marketers rely on TV shows or radio spots, while others use comic books, brochures or booklets, or posters containing codes such as an X and a checkmark to suggest wrong and right.  Even rap Music has been used successfully in social marketing efforts.[31]  However, the rule of thumb is that all these devices must be used with extreme care and with reference to a thorough understanding of the local cultural context.  Any ignorance of cultural norms could negatively impact the social marketing program outcomes. For instance, in Nepal, the conventional cartoon speech bubble used in a social marketing effort was interpreted by villagers as representing a large clove of garlic.[32]

Evaluation   Evaluation is an assessment to determine whether or not a problem currently is being appropriately addressed, or has been solved satisfactorily. Most social marketing projects are examined on an ongoing basis.  Different types of evaluations require different kinds of data and methodological tools.[33]  As a social change strategy, social marketing is most likely to be effective when it is accompanied with a commercial marketing campaign that can also encourage beneficial social change.  As a matter of fact, more and more commercial marketers are in favor of social marketing as an alternative strategy for marketing their products and services, which will create more channels for anthropologists to make their contributions to marketing in the future.


Social marketing applies marketing concept, commercial marketing techniques, and other social change techniques to achieve individual behavior changes and societal structural changes that are consistent with the wellbeing of a target market.  Like mainstream marketing, social marketing has its own principles that need to be discussed. Social marketing professionals heavily rely on concepts and methods drawn from behavioral psychology and commercial advertising to design culturally appropriate solutions to specific problems. Anthropology is a social science that pays particular attention to the influence of cultures on human behavior, and therefore has much to do with social marketing.  By adopting anthropological cultural models and analytical tools, the social marketer would be able to identify the social and/or cultural factors that influence the behavior that is targeted for change and contribute to strategy formation.  It is clear that by using the information they collected through anthropological approach in different cultural models the social marketers are able to design their campaigning or promoting materials more effectively.

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