- In the academic world, there are multiple “definitions” of culture, but the one I like best (so much that I used this definition as the basis for my cultural identity research for my doctoral dissertation) is by Kroeber and Kluckholn (1952). They define culture as
“patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiment in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other as conditioning elements of further action.”
In simple terms, they define culture as traits, behaviors, customs, traditions, values, morality, rules and norms that are passed down from generation to generation. It is the fabric of each human society. It dictates the boundaries of our functions as individuals who are a part of a larger group we call “society”.
Culture is also a dynamic force because some aspects of culture as we know it are consistently influenced by other aspects causing the formation of new norms, the extinction of outdated ones, changes in morally acceptable behavior, new traditions. Over enough time this sometimes leads to paradigm shifts in the entire society.
Scholars has given these periods of changes different names over time — The Dark Ages, The Renaissance, World War I, The Industrial Revolution, The Russian Revolution, The Great Depression, World War II, The Cultural Revolution that happened in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s to name a few. What all these periods are evidence of is cultural change, and the ubiquitous influence of culture on the individuals in society and vice versa.
So, for me, culture encompasses every aspect of life. Culture is what we use to maintain balance and order in our society. Culture is what our ancestors centuries ago used to impart to us the wisdom that they gained in their lives. The dictionary to read these messages might still be lost, but the messages are there to quench our thirst for whatever our ultimate dreams may be. So, I find culture’s influence in every word I write, say or think, and every situation I encounter and I can’t help but be amazed as how little time we spend thinking about the positive and negative implications of such pervasive cultural influence.
What is a conundrum?
This is the definition of a conundrum as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and it puts it very well. A conundrum can be a problem, a riddle, a conflict, a situation or a person. A conundrum as I like to put it is a situation in which all possible solutions may seem equally good or bad, making us unable to relax in our blissfully ignorant, perfectly “black/white”, “good/bad”, “moral/immoral” dichotomies in life.
A conundrum shows to us the gray areas that are inherent in every aspect of life, whether we are looking at arts, business, lifestyle, health, people, gender, or research. A conundrum forces us to confront the option that there might not be a “best answer” or “best solution” to a given situation. When experiencing a conundrum, we go on a mental roller coaster, and turn our minds upside-down, and inside-out in hopes to find a solution to our dilemma.
This is why, my sister had the brilliance to put the word “conundrums” upside down in my logo. It was her idea, and I had her keep it upside down intentionally! I wanted people to realize that feeling “upside down” is a normal part of experiencing a conundrum in life.
I also wanted to emphasize this minor detail because I wanted you to grasp the amount of thought that I put into every word, every image, every media file and every other little detail of the blog to provide you with the best content that I can.
So, what are cultural conundrums? What is this blog all about?
I hope to cover the entire spectrum of individual, group and societal interactions over time. I will be writing about people, gender issues, relationships, business, spirituality, law, health, mental health, myths and facts, music, dance, arts, fashion, and everything else that life comprises of, even the occasional post on my opinion on certain political powder-kegs!
Are the questions I pose, the issues I tackle or the solutions to problems that I present in my blog posts ground-breaking or original? I definitely don’t assume so! After all, there are 7+ billion people on this planet, a lot of whom are grappling with the same issues that I am. That is not even counting the millions of our ancestors since the beginning of society and civilization as we know it, well-known or not, who have tackled the same questions and issues that I tackle in my blog.
So, the questions have been asked and answered for time immemorial. My voice and my presentation however is unique to me. When I am using content produced by other individuals, I will be giving them the credit they deserve just as I hope that others who may use my words will give me the credit I deserve.
If you have any ideas on any content you would like to see, or any suggestions you have for me to make my blog an even better experience for you, please don’t hesitate to send your ideas and suggestions. Or you may email me.
My email address is: cultural email@example.com
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Thanks of reading! More posts coming soon.
– Dr. AJ