For quite sometime I have been thinking about what leads different cultures to be so different. The differentiation aspects can be many but right now I am focused about family aspect of each culture and also its relation with the surrounding society. A lot is dependent on economic condition of a country. One thing is very common. If economic condition of a country is not so good, people try to live in groups. Living in groups means more security and also less vulnerability. And this directly proportionates to having families, believing in family values; as in case something bad happens to one individual, someone will be there to support him/her.
When you talk about groups and families, society implicitly comes into picture. You are more concerned then – what other people think about you. For instance, in India, if you have crossed a certain age, people will keep on asking why aren’t you getting married. These pressures automatically keep on building. Sometimes your each action is judged by the people across the society and you just can’t avoid them. So if there are some good things living as a part of society there are bad parts too. However living in groups, having family culture encourages and builds on cultural aspects, values etc. I think to maintain the sanctity of this culture they are required too. Economically less developed also means less number of employments which also means that people have a lot of time to think about others. It’s always told that a blank mind is a house of Satan and that’s true in this case. Gossips spread and people have a lot of things to talk about others.
On the other hand, if you belong to an economically developed country, you no longer require a group. You even will not be aware who your neighbour is. The same doesn’t hold true when you live in society based culture. Your actions are not judged anymore. You may be living in a corner of a building and nobody bothers what you do unless they are getting affected by your actions. People don’t need a joint (big) family anymore. They are so involved with their life that they don’t have any time for other individual. You are then more individualistic who always thinks about yourself. Unless you have a good system to support with, older people are left in lurch in their later part of life and sometimes nobody cares about their well-being. Also now, people don’t care about their roots as basically they no longer are aware about them. The ethics and values which a society based culture encourages start to lose their sheen as the communication which keep on happening in a group-based-society from older generation to younger generation doesn’t seem to happen anymore frequently.
I have seen this pattern for some of the countries so far. Poland, which was not as much economically developed encouraged the group based culture. Similar things I have heard about Estonia also. The same holds true to India also. These days, India is in transition phase. If you see the people living in Metro cities, they are getting more and more financial independent thanks to the many economic liberalization policies adopted by Indian government. Families are becoming more and more nuclear these days because of lack of employment near to their towns and also because younger generation doesn’t need older people anymore. Sometimes they are needed but most of the times they are needed to take care their kids as office going couple may not have a luxury to have full time nanny. System still doesn’t support the social security to older people and they are left on their own when people no longer need them. I have already seen many such examples where it happened and nothing seem to work for older people.
So you know what, culture is already is in transition phase towards prosperity but I don’t think system is still prepared for it or even thinking in that direction. One more result is – people are less aware about their culture, ethics and values as they are no longer passed from generation to generation. I am still trying to think if it’s still possible to survive for all those values, ethics and cultural aspects even while living in this environment. From my own experience I have found that it may be possible but one needs to make continuous and conscious efforts with a lot of communication and visits to make it work. Most of the people who are comfortable in their own way of living may not find time/efforts for all these things. And in that way, you normally find the decline of the cultural aspects.