Culture includes everything about a particular group’s way of life; from high art to the most ordinary behavior (what we eat for breakfast, for example). It is defined as the manner of life for a whole society and the sum of socially transmitted behavioral patterns and can be classified into values, norms, institutions and artifacts. The set of distinctive features of a society or a social group, which includes emotional, spiritual and intellectual, can be called as culture.
It encompasses the community’s ways of existing together, its value systems, customs and ideals. Everything we do, from our food to our behavior can be considered as culture. From the essay, “From Culture to Hegemony, culture is defined as the norm of life. Barthes who used the model of linguist de Saussure, sought to uncover the latent meanings of the norms. He tried it from boxing to little things. Transmission of culture is done through language, material objects, customs, institutions, and art, passed from one generation to another generation.
Usually, this transmission remains intact and “pure”; however, when foreign influences set in either through cultural diffusion and/or assimilation, naturally, the native culture will have become irreparably modified. In “From a Native Daughter”, Haunaini-Kay Trask, bemoans the rape of her native lands culture. How the haole invaded their land and proceeded to change their history. For her historians like the missionaries from whom she had her education, were a part of then colonizing horde, one part colonized the spirit and the other the mind.
She believed that any outsider were to understand them, one should first know their language, their songs, their chants, their customs, and their bond with the ‘aina (the land). She said, “This bond is cultural, it can only be understood culturally…” IDEOLOGY: Ideology includes the underlying ideas that shape culture. These ideas are often what we take for granted, i. e. they are unconscious. For example, the idea that success is gained through going to college and getting a high paying job seems so obvious as to be truth. However, it is part of an ideology.
A trick in identifying ideologies is to look for undefined terms in a statement. What does “success” mean and where did that meaning come from? Ideology is the organized collection of underlying ideas that shape the culture. Being unconscious, they are often taken for granted. They are abstract thoughts applied to reality and every society has an ideology on which they base their actions on. From Marx’s Ideology as quoted in Subculture: the meaning of Style by Dick Hebdidge, ideology is defined as a set of common beliefs that lie beneath the awareness commonly known as “common sense”.
This common sense, although transparently, validates ideas. These taken for granted phenomena can function as signs, which in turn, will reflect the reality of the culture and can be analyzed through mapping them on a range of potential meanings. Power and class are parameters which extends and vary ideology thus making it achievable to have different levels of divided labor. Our education system is the one who is responsible in instilling the ideology into the individuals of the society.
In other words, the ideologies are maps of probable meanings which serve to have persons think their way into positions of power or subordination. HEGEMONY: A form of power usually built on ideologies. Instead of bullying (i. e. using coercion) to get your way, it’s easier and more sustainable to make your victim believe that your way is the right way. For example, car makers don’t have to force us to buy new cars at gunpoint; it’s easier to make us think that getting a new car every couple of years is simply what one does.
The underlying ideology might be that newness equals human progress. Hegemony is the subtle almost undetected authority of one individual over another and/or one group of people over another group. This dominance however doesn’t use threats or force. Naturally, the dominant party in our society has their advantages. For example, a dominant party can dictate the terms of trade to its advantage. Moreover, our cultural perspectives became in favor of the dominant group. It controls the way ideas are discarded or neutralized.
It happens in a process where hegemony alters our notions of common sense of a given society. According to the Gramsci, hegemony is the association of social groups exerting total social authority through coercion, imposition of thought or shaping consent. Familiar examples of this include the selling of cars where you coerce your buyers to buy because it is only right that you get yourself a car and thinking that it is simply what one does after a few years of using an old car. It may also because of the ideology that’s behind it is that a new car means an improvement in your lifestyle.
Hall is also quoted in Subculture: the meaning of style, in the chapter, From Culture to Hegemony, Hall (1977) was cited saying, “hegemony refers to the situation in which a provisional alliance of a certain social group exerts total social authority over other subordinate groups not only through coercion or by the direct imposition of ruling ideas but by winning and shaping consent so that the power of the dominating class appears to be legitimate and natural… “ DEFAMILIARIZATION:
Lastly, defamiliarization, also called “ostanenie” is a method of forcing the audience to see common things in an unfamiliar way. It is done in order to improve the insight of the familiar. Religion is a tried and tested way of bringing order to a world of chaotic events. In the article, World View and the Analysis of Sacred Symbols, from the Antioch Review by Clifford Geertz wherein he describes how religion is composed of sets of symbols that are in turn composed of meanings that can only be stored in the symbols. He says that a people’s ethos is the way they dress or their movements and the way they talk.
In general it is the quality of their lives while the world view is the cognitive aspect reflects how the people view the natural order of things as they are found in their world. All of these things are in some way or another affected by the religion of the people. Geertz considers the wajang as the clearest illustration of the relationship between the metaphysical (i. e. religion, belief etc…) and the people of Java’s actual values. The wajang is the ritual shadow play using puppets that usually lasts all night and well into the early morning.
The gamelan is the director musician and storyteller all in one. The most famous characters in the wajang are the Pendawas and the Korawas, and their endless wars. The Pendawas represent the five senses that must always work together to come up with just and good decisions. They represent calm detachment from the everyday events of life which is the way these myths are interpreted and translated into the actual culture that is in the peoples of Java. The Korawas on the other hand represent passion and indiscretion.
They are the representative icons that depict the capacity of religion not only to set the standards of ideal living but also delineate the workings of evil and destruction. Just like the Navajo looks at everything that is good and productive as in the form of a circle and thus evokes the circle in everything they do, so does the Javanese in their quest to detach themselves from the passions of everyday life to transcend into inner serenity and peace. Their world views affect their ethos and in turn dictate how they view their reality and consequently how they react to it.
The concept of defamiliarization as defined above is also effectively illustrated in the article by George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant. In this article he tells the readers how he had to kill the elephant not because he had to do it to save the people, or because it is truly a danger, in spite of it having killed a “coolie”, he says that he killed the animal to save himself from looking like a fool it is expected of him to not be afraid, to be consistent (and thus consistent in his initial impulse to kill the elephant).
His nationality and the empire he represents have created such a concept that as a member of the empire he is expected to conform to. Thus his actions no matter how mundane and ordinary they are will not have correspondingly simple interpretations at least as far as the natives are concerned.
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