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Symbols, Culture, and Society - Essay Example

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Symbols, Culture, and Society

All countries have not arrived at the same compromises in these respects, but global consensus is a pressing need.
Variations in culture can distinguish nations from each other (Heine). The theocratic countries of the Middle East stand out in sharp contrast, with a dominant cultural form all of their own. It is not language, dress, and customs, which define culture entirely: the overwhelming predominance of one faith puts its own stamp on how people behave and interact with each other. The Hindu Kingdom of Nepal and the Vatican are other examples of cultural uniformity through faith within territorial boundaries, though they are marginal in the political equations between countries. There is little room for variations and minority expressions in such societies, for the pressures to conform are irresistible. People tend to be conservative, and much importance is attached to observing customs in the ways of ancestors. Individual rights recede in to the background, and faith is used to suppress even relatively minor dissent. There are strong moral undertones to regimentation in such countries.
It would be unfair to blame organized religion for putting culture in straight jackets. Totalitarian states have the same effect, and even put religion down with heavy hands in order to establish the unitary authority of governance and ideology. Petty dictators and monarchs tend to strike some kind of understanding with religious authorities, but political establishments are not inclined to share power. The extent to which such bigotry was practiced by the erstwhile Soviet Union is not visible in the China of the 21st century, but the primacy of the State is essentially a Communist phenomenon.
People with liberal minds may rejoice at the modern culture of Europe and the United States, given that individual freedom has such priority in these countries. People from Europe who have migrated to the Southern Hemisphere have largely carried this spirit of human freedom with them, with the exceptional interregnum of apartheid. Yet there are elements of dissonance even in the bastions of freedom, as conservative ethnic communities from former colonies settle in the lands of their former rulers and masters. The evolution of multi racial countries has not been all smooth sailing.
It is possible to dismiss the persecution claimed by Muslims in Europe, as an inevitable spin-off of the security issue. However, France has carried secular leanings in to its schools, preventing children from covering their heads, and Sikhs from wearing turbans. We see in these countries, a struggle between individuals, different cultures, organized religion and the State. Minorities and foreigners accept languages, dress codes, cuisine, and art forms of the culture of their adopted homes. Most of them have emigrated for economic reasons, and either observe their original cultures in private, or sacrifice it altogether in quests for better lives. However, faith is another matter. (Ashbrook, 1988), has said that "religion is the substance of culture, and culture is the form of religion". This no longer applies to the majority of the white Caucasian native population of Europe, since most of them have marginal or no places for faith in their lives. However, the majority of first generation immigrants rankle ...Show more


Religion has had a dominant role in the evolution of most cultures. Each modern country has also developed its own norms of social behavior. Very few countries remain isolated in this age, and have citizens from different cultural backgrounds and faiths. Professionals are now mobile across national boundaries, and have their won effects on the work place environment…
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Symbols, Culture, and Society essay example
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