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After finishing reading on culture, a thought occurred to me regarding how the culture that defines a particular society tends to change into something completely different over time. Despite this, people, society, and what can be defined as “cultural traditions” are still considered part of the original culture despite the drastic changes that happen.
For example, when looking at England at the present, the society that embodies it within the current era is drastically different from what it was during the 1800s, the 1400s, and even far before that. The society that defined itself as “British” during the 10th up to the 17th century is no longer the same, what exists in its place is an entirely new culture, a far different society, which is far more diverse in all its intents and purposes from that which was in the past.
However, such a population still considers itself “British” despite the fact that it is in no way similar to what was defined as “British” in the past. This is applicable to nearly all the modern societies wherein due to hundreds of years of change, the features used to define Germans, Americans, Italians and Japanese have gone through various alterations and changes.
Who they are at present cannot even be considered similar to the original culture within their country. While it may be true that some vestiges of the original culture are left, it can be stated that there are more differences than similarities wherein if you had brought someone from the 1600s to nowadays, a person would have found it difficult to see what he/she could have defined as “familiar”.
Dynamic Development of Culture
Based on this, I developed the notion that to consider culture as a static notion or phenomenon that is isolated to particular periods is actually fallacious. Rather, what is known as culture to most people is actually a dynamic process that constantly changes into different iterations over the years.
To a certain extent, it can be stated that the different cultural periods throughout history are nothing more than stages in a development cycle that never truly ends. Based on this perspective, the cultural distinctions that we have at present will very likely undergo even more changes into something completely different to our present day experience of culture in the coming years. However, the future society will still define itself as Americans, Italians, British, and Germans.
The Concept of Identification
This enduring method of “identification” is not necessarily a result of culture but rather a manifestation of the sense of community that is inherent in all the society members. Various studies have shown that man (i.e. humanity) is a social creature and actually craves societal contact and desires to be identified with a particular type of group (Wrong, 1961).
According to this, I came up with the conclusion that the concept of identification (i.e. calling oneself American, British, Italian, etc.) is a way in which a human has created a means by which he/she is able to identify himself/herself with a particular social group, and once this particular sense of identification is set, distinct aspects related to culture begin to manifest. If you think about it from this particular perspective, this helps explain why societies which are relatively close to each other due to their location can still develop drastically into different cultures.
Wrong, D. H. (1961). The oversocialized conception of man in modern sociology. American Sociological Review, 26(2), 183-193.