Religion and Culture
It is through exploring the relationships among religion, culture, and communication that we can best understand how they shape the world in which we live and. relationship between religion and culture in social and sociological theories. This important relationship has central significance in cultural policy-making. Well I wouldn't say that culture and religion mirror each other, there are countries with multiple religions but same culture and multiple culture but same religion.
In the s members of both communities appealed to one aspect of Jubilee — a tradition of debt cancellation found in the Hebrew Bible — as the basis for addressing the debt crisis facing developing nations. Only a few years later, this sacred story was used for very different purposes by US president George W.
Bush, who celebrated the invasion of Iraq by quoting a Jubilee text from the Book of Isaiah: Sacred stories, ideas and teachings from the past have a richness and power that can influence political affairs today and the aspirations we hold for tomorrow. A community worshiping and acting together The fourth element common to most religions is the need for believers to belong to a faith community in order to practice sacred rituals and reinforce the truth of sacred stories.
Some religious traditions could be described as high demand, requiring strict adherence to rules and standards in order to maintain membership of the faith community. Other traditions are low demand, adopting a more flexible approach to the requirements for belonging faithfully to the community. The connection between religion and identity politics can have individual and international significance. For instance, empowered by belonging to a faith community, individuals can act in ways that they might not otherwise have done in isolation.
Rosa Parks, an African American woman who famously refused to obey American racial segregation laws and sparked a nation-wide civil rights movement in the s, is often lauded as a heroic individual. This may be true, but as a member of a religious community that affirmed human dignity and the divine principles of racial equality, Rosa Parks was never acting in isolation Thomas— The four elements of religion described above — the significance of gods and spirits, the power of holy rituals, the telling of sacred stories and belonging to faith communities — seem in their own ways to be a core aspect of the human condition in the twenty-first century.
Elements of culture We can approach the term culture in the same way we have considered religion. There are many proposed meanings of culture, and these vary from the simple to the complex. While each approach has real value for understanding the social world around us, we will opt for a simple version that still gives us plenty to work with.
As such, we begin with an understanding of culture as the combined effect of humanly constructed social elements that help people live together. We will explore four elements of culture, illustrating each element through individual and international political experience. Common life practised in society The first element of culture has to do with common or shared life. While media reporting seems to constantly prioritise stories of war, conflict and controversy, it is equally the case that local, national and international society requires a remarkable degree of cooperation.
Religion, Culture, and Communication
How do we live together? Yet, there are other bonds that are forged at the social level as peoples of difference find ways to live together in the same space by forging common beliefs, habits and values. It is from this practice of common life that culture often emerges.
Sport provides good examples of culture as common life. Let us think about football also known as soccer. Local football clubs can be founded on distinct community identity. For example, local Australian players from a Greek background can play for a team sponsored by the Hellenic Association. Clubs can equally represent a locality rather than a particular group. Regardless of background, at the international level all players in these clubs have a loyalty to the Australian football team.
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Football is the common bond — a sporting pastime but also cultural practice. Think about the way entire nations can be said to embody the activities of its national sporting heroes. Supporters from different countries will identify their team as playing in a certain style, even if these are stereotypes and not entirely accurate: Do all South American sides use flamboyance and spontaneity?
The larger point, for both individuals and nations, is the tangible power of a sporting pastime to generate common bonds from the local to the international Rees— That bond is an expression of culture. Symbols of group identity The second element of culture are symbols of identity. The kinds of sign I am referring to are tangible reminders in modern societies of who we are as a people.
They include styles of architecture such as bridges or religious buildingsland or waterscapes that influence the activity of life such as in harbour citiesmonuments, flags and other identity banners, styles of clothing and habits of dress, distinctive food and drink — and so on.
These signs are more than a tourist attraction, they are symbols that inform members about who they are as a group and that help the group live together cohesively. Consider, for example, the individual and international significance of national flags as cultural symbols. The Star-Spangled Banner as the anthem of the United States of America describes the power of a national flag to inspire individual and national devotion.
The answer for Key was yes, the flag symbolising defiance and the promise of victory. Equally, persecuted communities within a country might see a national or regional flag as a symbol of oppression rather than freedom, symbolising a dominant way of life that excludes them.
In all regions of the world nationalist groups fight for autonomy or independence from a country or countries that surround them, and do so under alternative flags that represent their own cultural identity. The flag of the Canadian province of Quebec, for example, employs religious and cultural symbols reflecting its origins as a French colony in the new world. Quebec nationalists campaigning for independence from Canada have employed the flag in the promotion of French language, cultural preservation and Quebecois identity.
National separatist groups worldwide are similarly inspired by symbols of culture they are trying to preserve.
Stories of our place in the world The third element of culture is the power of story. Like the cultural use of symbols, societies need to tell stories. These may be about individuals and groups, of events in the distant and recent past, of tales of victory and defeat involving enemies and friends — and so on. Such stories are told to reaffirm, or even recreate, ideas of where that society belongs in relation to the wider world.
As such, stories are performances designed to influence what we understand to be real Walter72— Sometimes cultural difference can be most starkly understood by the different stories societies tell about themselves.
In such places, national holidays can be mourned as commemorating invasion and dispossession. New Zealand offers somewhat of a contrast, with the story of the nation including the drawing up of the Treaty of Waitangi signed in between the British colonisers and the indigenous Maori tribes. Such ownership, as an attempt to uphold the sovereignty of the Maori nation swas central to the preservation of their cultural story.
Sadly, this is not the history recounted by Australian indigenous nations or most Native American tribes in the United States and Canada. Taken together, these depictions of preservation and loss illustrate the importance of language, ritual, place and tradition in the cultural story at the individual and international level.
Like living organs, societies experience growth and decline, health and decay, fitness and injury. Extending the analogy, we could say that culture is a way to measure the psychological and emotional health of society. These descriptors reflect what individuals and international societies believe is a healthy culture. As such, culture involves agreement on the kind of things that are good for society and can make it flourish.
One of the leading frontiers of culture clash worldwide involves the campaign for gender equality in areas such as education, employment, reproductive and marital rights. The story of Malala Yousafzai from northwest Pakistan reminds us of the power of one individual to inspire an international response on the vital issue of education for girls.
When Malala was 12, and inspired by her teacher father, she began to speak out for the right to education, something that was becoming increasingly restricted due to the influence of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Inalthough critically wounded, Malala survived an assassination attempt at the hands of the Taliban and, on her recovery, became a brave advocate for the many millions who were being denied education due to certain cultural perceptions about girls and their place in society.
In she was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and dedicated her prize money to the building of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. While it has been important to consider each concept separately, highlighting the particular ways that religion and culture influence international relations, there are clear interlinkages between them.
Theorists have long drawn such links and these are useful for our consideration here. Consider the similarities between the elements of religion and culture described in this chapter such as the role of symbols and stories in both accounts, and the pursuit of life according to what either faith or culture determine to be the higher standards of living. Such a view makes sense because no one religion encompasses an entire society in the world today, and no society lives entirely according to one set of sacred rules and practices.
On the other hand, in some contexts religious authority and identity can be more significant than any other cultural element.
For example, when American soldiers moved into the Iraqi city of Najaf in to negotiate security arrangements, it was not the town mayor or the police chief that had most influence.
Rather, it was the reclusive religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose authority influenced not only the city but much of the fracturing nation itself. Taking another example, when Communist authorities confronted striking dock workers in Poland in the s, it was not only unions that opposed them but also the Catholic Church, whose priests performed sacred rituals and stood in solidarity with strikers in open defiance of the government.
In both these examples, the elements of religion are equally — if not more — prominent than the elements of culture. Perhaps the most useful approach, therefore, is to see the elements of religion and the elements of culture in constant interaction with one another.
We have explored just four elements for each category. What might some other elements be and what are the impacts of these elements on individual and international life?
There are some excellent resources to assist us in exploring such questions. Can we all live together? One of the most pressing questions related to our study is whether religious and cultural actors and agendas have more of a positive or negative effect on global affairs. As we have seen above, these elements relate to some of the deepest levels of human experience, both individually and internationally. The influential scholar Martin E.
Marty would add that such an approach helps us to deepen our understanding of world politics as it really is. The number of alternative examples in IR is potentially unlimited — so as you read on, keep in mind other instances where the elements of religion and culture contribute to violence and peacemaking. In many ways this was an accurate description because the conflict between the Soviet Union and the West had shaped the dynamics of global affairs for half a century.
But, what would this new order look like? In much of Europe, religiosity is low: The decline of religiosity in parts of Europe and its rise in the U.
This framework is distinct from the more Western way of thinking, in that notions of present, past, and future are perceived to be chronologically distorted, and the relationship between cause and effect is paradoxical Wimal, In his philosophy, existence takes precedence over essence, and any existing object reflects a part of the creator. Therefore, every devoted person is obliged to know themselves as the first step to knowing the creator, which is the ultimate reason for existence.
This Eastern perception of religion is similar to that of Nagarajuna and Buddhism, as they both include the paradoxical elements that are not easily explained by the rationality of Western philosophy. For example, the god, as Mulla Sadra defines it, is beyond definition, description, and delamination, yet it is absolutely simple and unique Burrell, Culture How researchers define and study culture varies extensively.
Geertzbuilding on the work of Kluckhohndefined culture in terms of 11 different aspects: Geertz,p. The essentialist view regards culture as a concrete and fixed system of symbols and meanings Holiday, An essentialist approach is most prevalent in linguistic studies, in which national culture is closely linked to national language. Regarding culture as a fluid concept, constructionist views of culture focus on how it is performed and negotiated by individuals Piller, In principle, a non-essentialist approach rejects predefined national cultures and uses culture as a tool to interpret social behavior in certain contexts.
Different approaches to culture influence significantly how it is incorporated into communication studies. Cultural communication views communication as a resource for individuals to produce and regulate culture Philipsen, Cross-cultural communication typically uses culture as a national boundary.
Hofstede is probably the most popular scholar in this line of research. Culture is thus treated as a theoretical construct to explain communication variations across cultures.
This is also evident in intercultural communication studies, which focus on misunderstandings between individuals from different cultures. Religion, Community, and Culture There is an interplay among religion, community, and culture. Community is essentially formed by a group of people who share common activities or beliefs based on their mutual affect, loyalty, and personal concerns.
Participation in religious institutions is one of the most dominant community engagements worldwide. Religious institutions are widely known for creating a sense of community by offering various material and social supports for individual followers.
In addition, the role that religious organizations play in communal conflicts is also crucial.
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As religion deals with the ultimate matters of life, the differences among different religious beliefs are virtually impossible to settle. Although a direct causal relationship between religion and violence is not well supported, religion is, nevertheless, commonly accepted as a potential escalating factor in conflicts.
Currently, religious conflicts are on the rise, and they are typically more violent, long-lasting, and difficult to resolve. In such cases, local religious organizations, places facilitating collective actions in the community, are extremely vital, as they can either preach peace or stir up hatred and violence.
However, this decline in the authority of the religious institutions in modernized society has not reduced the important role of religion and spirituality as one of the main sources of calm when facing painful experiences such as death, suffering, and loss.
When cultural specifications, such as individualism and collectivism, have been attributed to religion, the proposed definitions and functions of religion overlap with definitions of culture.
For example, researchers often combine religious identification Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc. Religion as Part of Culture in Communication Studies Religion as a part of culture has been linked to numerous communication traits and behaviors. Specifically, religion has been linked with media use and preferences e.
Reflections on the differences between religion and culture.
In media and religion scholarship, researchers have shown how religion as a cultural variable has powerful effects on media use, preferences, and gratifications. These studies suggest the significance of religion in health communication and in our health. Research specifically examining the links between religion and interpersonal communication is not as vast as the research into media, health, and religion. However, this slowly growing body of research has explored areas such as rituals, self-disclosure Croucher et al.
The role of religion in organizations is well studied. Garner and Wargo further showed that organizational dissent functions differently in churches than in nonreligious organizations. Researchers are increasingly looking at the relationships between religion and intercultural communication. Researchers have explored how religion affects numerous communication traits and behaviors and have shown how religious communities perceive and enact religious beliefs. Karniel and Lavie-Dinur showed how religion and culture influence how Palestinian Arabs are represented on Israeli television.
Collectively, the intercultural work examining religion demonstrates the increasing importance of the intersection between religion and culture in communication studies. Croucher and Harris asserted that the discourse about religion, culture, and communication is still in its infancy, though it continues to grow at a steady pace. Future Lines of Inquiry Research into the links among religion, culture, and communication has shown the vast complexities of these terms.
Work should continue to define these terms with a particular emphasis on mediation, closely consider these terms in a global context, focus on how intergroup dynamics influence this relationship, and expand research into non-Christian religious cultures. Martin-Barbero asserted that there should be a shift from media to mediations as multiple opposing forces meet in communication.
Religions have relied on mediations through various media to communicate their messages oral stories, print media, radio, television, internet, etc. These media share religious messages, shape the messages and religious communities, and are constantly changing. Thus, the very meanings of religion, culture, and communication are transitioning as societies morph into more digitally mediated societies.
Research should continue to explore the effects of digital mediation on our conceptualizations of religion, culture, and communication. Closely linked to mediation is the need to continue extending our focus on the influence of globalization on religion, culture, and communication.
It is essential to study the relationships among culture, religion, and communication in the context of globalization. In addition to trading goods and services, people are increasingly sharing ideas, values, and beliefs in the modern world.
While religion represents an old way of life, globalization challenges traditional meaning systems and is often perceived as a threat to religion. For instance, Marx and Weber both asserted that modernization was incompatible with tradition.