Cultural Variations in the Ideas of Wellbeing for Sustainable Development: A Comparative Review on the Traditional Akan and the Western Euro-American

Daniel Opoku Mensah


There is a strong consensus that wellbeing or sustainable living are inextricably linked to cultural values, especially regarding individuals, and individuals in relation to each other and their environment. Qualities of independence and interdependence as well as human-environment relations are essential in most cultures, but particular cultures place value on one than the other and has attracted much attention in wellbeing studies, especially, those on indigenous cultures in comparison with Western life-ways.Wellbeing studies have been skewed towards Western cultures and traditional cultures of developing countries in the Pacific Islands and Asia, even though the greater majority of sub-Saharan African countries are going through periods of transition, including industrialization and the accompanying nutrition transition, nuances of public health burden and environmental degradation, as well as poverty and conflicts, which are directly or indirectly related to people’s assessment of their own wellbeing, including indigenous people.This paper therefore compares the traditional Akan culture’s ideas of wellbeing with that of the Western Euro-American. Due to the broad nature of the wellbeing subject, the paper focuses on independent- interdependent values and ideas of the “person” between the two groups, and how these ideas impact on their environments for sustainable development.

Keywords: Western/Euro-American, Traditional/Indigenous Culture, Wellbeing, Sustainable Development, Akan, Independence, and Interdependence

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