Life in society as a whole is comprised of numerous elements that are interrelated in many ways. There exist numerous aspects of that life, such as economic processes, social and cultural phenomena, as well as political and religious elements, and a dominating ideology. All these aspects are related, and they have a great impact on one another.
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In particular, the economic processes tend to have a defining impact on political, religious, and ideological formations within a society, and these have an effect on the social and cultural life; however, it should be noted that the economic life does not always solely define the other aspects of the life in a society, for these aspects may be influenced by the previously existing social, cultural, religious, etc. phenomena. This paper provides three historical examples to show the influence and interrelatedness of the named elements of society.
Medieval Western Europe prior to the Black Death may serve as an example of the impact of the economic processes that take place in a region and the political power of certain strata on the social, cultural, religious, and ideological formations which exist in that region. In Europe, the economic climate was that of feudalism; in other words, the knight warlords forced the peasants to work for them and imposed taxes.
The ruling knights and feudal lords forbade peasants to carry weapons, which, in fact, deprived them of freedom, for the peasants were no longer able to protect themselves. The system of castles permitted for controlling the territories and protecting the knights from possible attacks. This had an impact on the social life; the peasantry had to engage in forced labor, and their daily lives were shaped by this; the warlords controlled the lives of the peasants in a rather exhaustive manner.
This state of affairs was supported by Christianity, the influence of which was widespread throughout Europe; the Church, which supported the knights and was supported by them, was a powerful institution capable of shaping the religious life of the society and had a major impact on the culture of Europe throughout the Middle Ages. The power of knights and the Church, as well as their economic strength, allowed them to shape the political landscape of Western Europe and to form the ideology which would support their rule.
In fact, the Church and the feudal lords were what allowed for the emergence of the identity of a European. In other words, it is possible to conclude that the power of the knights and their economic and political dominance over the peasantry, as well as the power of the Church and its wealth, allowed them to have a tremendous impact on all the spheres of life of Western Europe, including the social, cultural and ideological aspects of the community.
The Ottoman Empire can also be used so as to demonstrate the influence of the economic processes and political dominance of certain layers of the society on the cultural, social, religious, and ideological aspects of life. The Ottoman Empire started emerging under the rule of Osman, who was able to train the Turkish Ottoman warriors and develop an ethos of a warrior, as well as to create the basis for the settled administration of the captured territories.
Such an administration was in sharp contrast with the original Mongol state, as well as with the rest of the Islamic warrior groups, due to the fact that these were primarily interested in warfare and were not capable of attracting merchants and clerics, as well as of creating a bureaucratic structure which would permit for ruling over the captured lands. Therefore, the Ottomans managed to establish a state that let them consolidate power in their hands. On the whole, the political and economic dominance allowed the Ottomans to attract clergy of the Islamic religion, which, in turn, led the Ottoman Empire to become the center of Sunni Islam in the Muslim world.
As a result, the political and economic dominance, combined with the support of the Islamic religion, had a considerable impact on the cultural and social aspects of life in the Empire, as well as on the ideology that dominated in the Empire. The ruler of the Empire, the sultan, utilized his military and civilian bureaucrats in order to gain profit from his subjects and force them into obedience. It is clear that the ideology which dominated the Empire supported the rule of the sultan, and the revenues which were to be gained from the subjects had a determining influence on the social life in the Empire. The cultural life was also influenced by the dominance of the sultan and the Islamic clergy, for the agents of the cultural development had to comply with their demands.
India can also be utilized as an example of the effects of the economic and political processes on the religious, cultural, and social life of a county or a society, as well as on the ideology which dominates there. India was a rich territory, but it was divided into smaller units dominated by rajas, that is, chiefs, who were usually in conflict with one another due to their desire to attain more power and dominance. They also utilized the religious traditions of Hinduism, gaining support from the representatives of the Brahmin varna (the highest social stratum, comprised of priests) via making land concessions to these clerics.
Brahmins, on the other hand, built temples, converted the local people into their faith, and promoted the cultivation of the lands by teaching these people how to do so. In addition, the Brahmans created genealogies for the rajas, thus cultivating the ideology supporting the rajas for their lengthy rule, which appeared legitimate in the light of such ancestry. Thus, the dominance and the power of the rajas were supported by the representatives of the religious, social stratum, therefore cementing that dominance, whereas the rajas provided the support for the Brahmins by giving them land and protecting them.
Therefore, in this case, the political dominance of the rajas and the religious dominance of the Brahmins were mutually supported, resulting in a certain ideology; they also helped establish the economic order of the country. The dominant rajas and Brahmins also supported certain types of economic activity, developing land cultivation and agriculture; all of this shaped the formation of the social and cultural life of the country.
On the whole, it should be stressed that the provided examples demonstrate that the economic life within a certain society has a serious impact on the other aspects of life in it. The economic processes, often in combination with political power and religious influence (which are themselves impacted by economic processes), have a profound influence on the ideological, cultural, and social life of the society.