Compatibility with Existing Culture Sociology Help

Compatibility with Existing Culture

Innovations are most readily accepted when they fit in nicely with the existing culture. The horse fitted easily into the hunting culture of the Apache, as it enabled them to do better what they were already doing. Not all innovations mesh so well. Innovations may be incompatible with. the existing culture in at least three ways. First, the innovation may eot/fliet  ith existing . patterns. In many developing countries, the idea of appointment and promotion ona merit basis clashes with the traditional family obligation  to take care of one's relatives. Many current environmental proposals in the United States conflict with our traditional concepts of land use, property rights, and personal . liberties. When an innovation conflicts with existing culture patterns, there are at least three possible outcomes: (1) It may be rejected, as most Am~cans have rejected chopsticks, nude beaches; and communism; (2) it may be .accepted, and the conflicting cultural traits may be modified to fit it, as we have altered our child-labor practices to permit compulsory public education; (3) it may be accepted and its conflict with the existing culture may be concealed and evaded by rationalization, as in those areas (including France and, until
recently, five of the United States) where contraceptives were freely sold "for prevention of disease," although the sale of constraints ceptives was forbidden by law. While not always decisive, conflict with the existing culture discourages acceptance of 1n innovation. Sometimes an apparent conflict can be avoided by role compartmentalization. As an example, the Kwaio of the Solomon Islands had chiefs every Tuesday! Their social organization included no chiefs, but it became necessary to invent some to handle dealings with white officiafs after World War II. To
avoid conflict between these new "chiefs" and the traditional holders of authority and influence, they simply agreed that the chiefs would "reign" only on Tuesdays when the white officials called [Keesing, 1968]. In this
way; a potentially disruptive innovation was fenced off from the rest of the culture. Second: the innovation may call for new pattern » not present in the culture. The American  . Indians had no patterns of animal husbandry
into which the~w could be fitted. When they were first given cows by government agent", they hunted them as game animals. A society generally tries to use an innovation in old, familiar ways. When this fails, the society may develop new ways of making effective use of the new element. Thus, We  have disguised each new building material tomake it look like an old, familiar material. Early concrete blocks were faced like rough finished stone; asphalt and asbestos shingles were finished to look like brick or wood; aluminum siding is still made to look like wood. Then, after some years, these materials begin to be used in designs and ways which make full use of their own properties and possibilities. Most innovations call for some
new patterns in the culture, and it takes time to develop them. Third, some' innovations are substitutive, not  additive, and these are less readily accepted. It is easier to accept innovations which can be added to the culture without requiring the immediate discard of some familiar trait complex. American baseball, popular music, and the "western" movie have been diffused throughout most of the world. Each could be added to almost any kind of culture without requiring surrender of any native traits. But sex equality, democracy, or merit-based recruitment and promotion have diffused more slowly; each requires the surrender of traditional values and practices. Many non-Western peoples have readily accepted the procedures and materials of scientific medicineinoculations, antibiotics, analgesics, and even  surgery-for these could coexist with theirtraditional folk medicine. The ill Navaho could swallow the government doctor's pill while the Navaho healing dance continued. But many of these people neither understand nor  accept the scientific foundations of medicine,
such as the germ, virus, and stress theories of disease or the rest of the medical subculture, for these conflict with their traditional belief system. Whenever the nature of the  choice is such that one cannot have both the  new and the old, the acceptance of the new is usually delayed

Posted on September 4, 2014 in SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CHANGE

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