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Literature Studies: “Following Tradition” by Simon Bronner Report (Assessment)


Simon Bronner in his book, Following Tradition: Folklore in the discourse of American Culture, views how Americans have adopted their traditions and, in times of need, altered them to suit the present situations in the new world.

Composed of a myriad of communities, America has crumbled with different cultural traditional values, as well as multiculturalism, which makes the nation known as multicultural among other key nations, which have almost the same cultural background. Folklore of the US is the cultural heritage of the nation; therefore, American society tries to preserve their practices in terms of a plurality of ideas.

With the rise of individualism or behaviorism, Bronner notes that the quest for material progress has made the society to adopt an individual approach of reasoning to embracing communal systems. This has led to declining of culture and its social aspects if viewing the nation from an individual perspective.

With increased mobility across borders coupled with self-consciousness, individuals tend to become less attached to communities than to personal engagements. In a society that is future-oriented, like America, folklorists find it difficult to go for the preservation of the nation’s traditions.

The progressive American society comprising of Africans, Hispanics, and American Europeans has been seeking a new path to follow. Again, the clear cultural distinction in terms of identity makes it difficult for the US to forge a distinct tradition and modernity.

Modernism and postmodernism have pragmatically de-emphasized folklore. Therefore, it has been difficult to ‘hand down’ lore from one generation to another. When issues of value judgment arise, the problems of tradition emanate, this idea tends to change the power of traditions that had reigned all along the existence of a nation.

Modernists view the main function of a tradition as regulating every aspect of life; therefore, people should not follow it unconsciously, as this might conform to a defined domestic life. Moreover, the process of inheritance of traditions has remained controversial in the aspect of conformity and mark of honor. From this point of view, conforming to tradition irrationally brings out the authoritarian nature of enforcement.

The opening chapters of Bronner’s book take a variety of case studies on how England and Germany influence American culture. One can easily grasp and participate in the practices of a society, but not abstract the idea of a society at the same pace. Culture and tradition have different meanings, and it becomes difficult to use the term “tradition” in learning various cultures of the present society.

Historically, the concept of a universal tradition, according to Edward Taylor, replicates cultural ideas. Since cultural beliefs were passed through oral and face-to-face communication, societies conformed to exact norms and practices, as opposed to the entry of western civilization.

Culture is generally the way of life of any social group. This sociological perspective touches on the ways social groups think, ways they act, and parameters that shape their ways of life. According to Edward B. Taylor, culture entails morals, customs, beliefs, knowledge, symbols, and other habits that one can acquire as a member of a given society.

Cultural relativism, as a concept, believes that the cultural practices of a person are relative to his/her social affiliation. Anthropologists believe that no cultural practice is superior to the other. For that matter, no moral belief is considered as wrong or right and does not supersede any other belief of a different social group.

On the other hand, ethnocentrism is a sociological concept where a person views the entire world concerning his/her social group. Here, one believes that his/her ethnic group is more important than other cultural groups in the world, and the measurement of one’s culture is done relative to his/her ethnic group. Finally, qualitative research methodology is a field research method that aims at bringing out the understanding of concepts of social life.

The whole concept tries to answer questions of ‘why,’ ‘how’ and ‘what’ of any aspect. The research method that Professor Linton used to collect the cultural practices of the Finnish is qualitative, given that it tried to answer questions on why and the communities behaved in the way they did.

It disclosed the belief systems, experiences, and perspectives from the historical point of view. The whole concept helped anthropologists to understand how and why people behave differently. For instance, the research exposed why the Britons paid extreme attention to ritual activities, albeit the fruits of their economic engagements. In essence, communities hold their cultures irrespective of the consequences that they may have.

The optimism that the author presents when he brings forth his views on the future role of folklore in the American society is also addressed vividly in the early reviews from Taylor and Francis Group.

With numerous materials from archives of different regions, world scholars are trying to prove the apparent differences in folklore. Tradition, culture, and folklore have remained popular topics of discourses, as many scholars write on their relations and differences in different regions of the world.

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IvyPanda. (2019, August 15). Literature Studies: "Following Tradition" by Simon Bronner. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/literature-studies-following-tradition-by-simon-bronner/

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IvyPanda. "Literature Studies: "Following Tradition" by Simon Bronner." August 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/literature-studies-following-tradition-by-simon-bronner/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Literature Studies: "Following Tradition" by Simon Bronner." August 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/literature-studies-following-tradition-by-simon-bronner/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Literature Studies: "Following Tradition" by Simon Bronner'. 15 August.

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