So What Does Cultural Change Mean To Me?

Given that true culture change is imperceptible, that anyone at all can influence change (the tech whiz in a garage in Palo Alto developing a computer for the masses, a farmer deciding to try a new hybrid seed for a portion of his crops, etc., a British band forming in England in the early ’60s’) and that change is inevitable, why do I care? Think about change and stress as synonyms. Now consider the human nervous system. Certainly, there are individual differences in how much stress/change that can be tolerated. Who really wants to live life at someone else’s pace and timing? Who can cope easily if the velocity of change is overwhelming?

When you consider the pace that new things are introduced into society, smart phone upgrades every few months, new laws every year, outdated fashion styles every season for example, new waves of pop culture icons every year, one may wonder who is behind it, who is setting a faster and faster pace that seems to require more adaptation and nimbler coping skills to absorb and withstand the stress of the pace? Some anthroplogists have suggested that a percentage of the population is made up of individuals with highly developed nervous systems, individuals who not only cope with stress/change better than the average person, but who actually thrive on a faster pace dragging the less adaptable people with them whether or not they are ready.  How does this affect the general population, particularly in the U.S. over, say, the last two or three decades with the explosion of the “technoinformation age”?

How are U.S. politics affected by people who long for a slower pace and a stable way of life that stays the same longer than just a few months? Does one’s ability to cope well or less well than others color one’s outlook in how we believe our social institutions should operate and how our political views are shaped? Yes it does. One of the most interesting things to me is how people react to culture change, what they think culture change is or is not, and how culture change plays out in relation to each of our social institutions. I propose that before we think of starting a debate about anything political or social, especially those issues that are controversial, that we develop a firm understanding of the very culture in which we live in order to understand what is going on from the foundation of society on up. To not understand the very bedrock of how a society is constructed and how it functions sociopolitically is like trying to operate under a roof before the walls or the floor have been built. In my next post, I’m going to move away from the topic of culture change for a moment to talk about the “stuff” of which all societies are made starting with the three major components of all human societies–it’s foundation first (how we make a living, i.e, the economy), secondly, it’s technology, and third, it’s justification for the first two (the religious/belief systems)…


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