In a modern multi-culture society
what is so wrong with society.. ,”(NT-News16.03.12) “ “. are some sort of underground society in the world.”(Heroldsun 30.08.11) “.a civilised society takes ...“ (NT-News 06.08.11) “.more credit for their contribution to society .”(18.03.12) “.what has happened to society.”(NT-News 2.01.11) “.the cultural change is enormous.”(The Australian 17.03.12) “.dynamic human culture.” (NT-News22.08.07) “.now gets culture shock when she returns.”(Heroldsun 02.10.08)“ .Culture in crisis.” (NT-News16.10.07) “.Territory's drinking culture..,”(NT-News 28.12.11) “.scandal culture needs change .”(NT- News 07.03.12) “.in a modern multi-cultural society.. ,”(The Australian 29.11.11)
Culture and society; two abstract and immaterial words, which we use in our everyday life to describe, who we are and how we live. But are we truly aware of what we sometimes say? Is there really something what we can call a scandal culture? Can something be wrong with society? What makes a society civilised? How does a culture change? How can we contribute to society? What makes a multi-cultural society multi-cultural and what has society actually to do with culture?
Sir Edward Burnett Tylor described culture 1871 as ".that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.. ."(Taylor 1871:1). Culture would be the foundation to the whole way of life of a society. Lifestyle would include religion, legal systems, language, values and principles. But does Sir Edward Burnett Taylor’s description of culture apply in the globalised world we’re living in today? Is everyone who shares the same belief, part of the same society? Can we speak different languages within one culture? Am I living the
Australian culture because the Australian legal system now applies for me too? Can different cultures live in the same society?
The Oxford Dictionary defined society as “ 1. ... the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community ... 2. An organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity ... 3. The situation of being in the company of other people ...” (Oxford Dictionary 2004:1353).
When we are talking about Society we are talking about something that accentuated the social level as a certain condition (Pries 1998:64). The notion society identifies human groups, who are sharing language, principles, norms, experience and interaction and are enfolded by organisations and institutions. People living in Darwin are part of the Darwin’s society as they are living in a particular area and are having shared customs and laws. Darwin has as well a “horse racing society”, which is united by people who are sharing the same interest and are recognizing the same sort of unwritten rules about fashion. There is also a Chinese society in Darwin as they share language, experience and beliefs. Some of them are maybe members of the Chung Wah Society, a Chinese sporting club. Others might have their debut into some sort of society and becoming a part of a somehow distinct group? Therefore societies is a collective term for all different kinds of human groups, which are defined by what they share together as well as they have institutions and certain rules about actions even if only a silent agreement (Pries, 1998:58-61 ). Not everybody needs to be friend’s within one society. Schubert and Klein are pointing out that societies are more likely united by rational reasons whereby within communion the bonding itself is the primary reason (Schubert/Klein 2006: 256).
Sir Edward Tylor leaves us with a holistic definition of culture, but is culture that easy to outline or is everything human an acquire culture? Clifford Geertz claimed that his concept of culture is essentially a semiotic one. Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning. (Geertz: 1973:5). Geertz detected culture as the one instance which creates meaning. In a different way from Sir Edward Tylor, Geertz perception is more about interpret and understanding rather than looking for universal rules and law. Furthermore Geertz identified that culture must be something public. If culture is meaning, so can it only exist if someone else accepts that meaning. Geertz illustrated his idea on the example of blinking. If you would not have any idea what blinking means you would only see someone moving his eyelid instant of a secret motion to one’s friend (Geertz 1999:11-12).
Culture so far has something to do with what humankind acquired but it is more the meaning behind all these things what makes culture. And cultural meaning becomes only meaningful if it means something for someone else as well.
Bradford J. Hall points out that there are many definitions of culture which accent different aspects, which are that overarching that culture becomes almost everything. Many Culture theories disagree on each other (Hall 2005:3). He senses culture “... as a historically shared system of symbolic resources through which we make our world meaningful.” (Hall 2005:4). Similar as Geertz beforehand, Hall emphasize the meaning which is the main difference to Sir Edward Tylor who has seen culture in the product of something which human created. Every human creation wouldn’t be anything if we would not see the meaning behind it. If we wouldn’t have an idea of what religion is, it would only be a sequence of actions, and probably a pretty strange looking one. If you would have asked someone 300 years ago if you could use their internet they would not have known what you mean. Of cause because the internet wasn’t invented back than but as well the world “internet” did not have the meaning which it has today. But Hall could see more than that. Culture is the creation of a symbolic system through which we decode something that now has a meaning (Hall 2005:8-11). Take language for example. Why does no one understands me when I say “There is an ijnmubd!”? Why does someone understand what I mean if I say “There is a snake!”? Simply because we, as a group who shares a language, agreed on the meaning of snake. Of cause no one will ask you directly if you agree on that; it’s only by learning and using these words you understand and the word becomes meaningful. You can learn different languages, different culture symbol systems and expand you recourse of symbols (Barthes (1964) 85-96).
Looking back culture is something we as humankind acquired, but more than just the creation of habits, religion and norms, it is the shared meaning behind these symbols what makes culture. Therefor culture has nothing to do with nation, we can be part of many cultures, we even can create our own culture.
What makes a society now multi-cultured? If society is a name for a collective group who shares something, a multi-cultured society might share multiple cultures? Or amongst one group are different cultures?
Today Darwin’s society is made up of people from many different nationalities from all over the world. They have different symbolic systems, speak different languages but they now all have a common denominator, they are now part of Darwin’s society. Sure they have different beliefs, experience and traditions but now they share the law of the land which applies for everyone. They might share some of “Darwin customs” by visiting the Mindel markets.
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