Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Civilization, Ideology, and Culture. What's the Difference?

Civilization, Ideology, Culture are concepts which are parallel to each other, to understand their definitions and how these concepts overlap and diverge, we must identify each concept and trace its historical emergence.
I will start in this paper with the concept of Ideology, in which various scholars developed different types and definitions of it. Mainly Ideology “is a system of ideas, beliefs, ideals, and principles that guide the social, cultural political and economic functioning of society”.
 In 1796, the term ideology was used in a translation of a work by the French philosopher Destutt de Tracey, who used it to develop philosophical questions and to establish the term “science of ideas”. During the nineteenth century, it was sometimes used contemptuously to refer to radical and revolutionary ideas and in the twentieth century, the word ' ideology ' continued to be used to criticize any social policy that was perceived to be deliberately derived from social theory. The concept has been debated from different scholars, for example, Andrew Heywood mentioned the following meanings of ideology: a political belief system; an action-oriented set of political ideas; the ideas of the ruling class; the world view of a particular social class or group; ideas that propagate a false consciousness among the exploited or oppressed; an officially sanctioned set of beliefs used to legitimize a political system or regime; an all-embracing political doctrine that claims a monopoly of truth (2003:6).

However, Gramsci (1971) considered that ideology was embedded in each level and aspect of society – in popular culture, arts and literature, the education system and the mass media. According to Gramsci, society can be dominated by manipulating its culture- beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values.  He conceptualizes ideology by portraying it as a belief system as a "terrain” of practices, principle, and doctrines having a material and institutional nature comprising individual subjects once they are “embedded" into such terrain. Since ideology comprised individuals as subjects and social agent in the society, the same social agents operate economic roles at production. Ideology had an important function in the realm of production as well as in the overall structure of society.




The most important part of Gramsci's definition of ideology is his thought of “organic “ideology Clearly, ideology was defined regarding the system of class rule, for example, hegemony, in which there was an organic arrangement of every ideological component into an allied system. This complex arrangement constituted an “organic ideology,” the expression of the communal life of the given social bloc wherein a class held state power and hence social hegemony. In a given hegemonic system, therefore, a hegemonic class held state power through its economic supremacy and through its capacity to successfully articulated or expressed the most essential elements in the ideological discourses of the subordinate classes in civil society.
 Moreover, Karl Marx urged that ideology develops out of society’s mode of production, which is capitalism and private enterprise. Marx's way to deal with ideology was gone ahead in his hypothesis of base and superstructure. According to Marx, the superstructure of society, the domain of belief system, the domain of creation reflects the interests of the ruling class in the society and legitimize their status quo to remain in power.

In addition, it is because ideology legitimizes the norms and beliefs (culture) that it plays a specific role in cultural change. Ideology is not only belief. Ideology is the intellectual dimension of belief systems. Ideology is the justifying part of the belief system. Each belief system rests on a base which is ideology. Ideology as a particular kind of belief is then included in culture. It is not distinct but plays a specific role. culture is the consequence of choice. It is a belief system as an intellectual dimension of culture, that something is the consequence of a decision. An individual inherits his culture, but it is always capable to change his ideology and refine their beliefs, norms, and values. Culture is organized by ideology. Ideology is in this sense includes in the culture and has a particular role. It justifies the beliefs, norms, and values and founds action (respect the rules of the game). Ideology explains culture because valid justification to keep the standards of the game.  Ideology gives the place of cleverness. Any variation in justification costs is a potential carrier of the evolution of the practices. Ideology is then a genetic cause of culture.

However, the concept of Culture was extremely hard to define since it is a complex term and carries particular meanings in different disciplines. Because the development of its derivation and its arrangement changed in various understandings, contexts, and anthropological terms. Although, the meaning of the term 'culture' has changed over time, especially in the period of the transition from traditional social formations to modernity.
The word 'culture' was first utilized in the fifteenth century to depict the human relationship with nature. It portrayed the results of the extraction of assets from nature through a procedure of work, for instance, the tending of crops (cultivation) and livestock production. This meaning is retained in modern English in such words as 'agriculture' and 'horticulture. The Latin root for the word culture is Colere, which can mean anything from cultivating and inhabiting to worshiping and protecting. Colere also ends up via the Latin cults as the religious form “cult”, just as the idea of culture itself in the modern ages comes to substitute itself for a fading sense of divinity. The second definition was used in the mid-sixteenth century. It broadened the possibility of 'development' from cultivation to progressively more abstract things like the human mind.
The third definition of 'culture', which has been the most important in social sciences, emerges from the Enlightenment. In the eighteenth century, scholars utilized the word to refer to the general secular procedure of social development (as in 'European society and culture'). The Enlightenment perspective as in Europe in the eighteenth century was that there was a procedure of unilinear, authentic self-development of humankind, which all society faces, and in which Europe played the focal, all-inclusive role since it was the most elevated center of civilization or cultured human development. The most significant sociological utilization of the term, culture is comprehended as indicating the entire surface of society and the way language, images, implications, convictions, and values shape social practices. The sociological analysis of a culture in that matter prompted the development of different 'tool-kit' of ideas and forms of classifications.
The distinction between culture and civilization is not well embedded in the English language, yet has remained generally significant in other European and in non-European dialects which received these ideas from French and German researchers. The fogginess of the distinction has been reinforced when powerful streams of English-speaking anthropologists suggested that both concepts are indistinguishable. In the English-speaking world, the concept of civilization has grown without reference to the term culture. This is a direct result of the distinction of British anthropological methodologies (firmly affected by "Victorian evolutionists" and Edward B. Tylor). Tylor's notion of civilization covers both culture and civilization. It adds to the confusion that Tylor, although defining civilization as more than culture, nonetheless used both terms reciprocally.
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Civilization works towards an increasing extension, referring to and denoting more and more things. Furthermore, civilization is a convenient conceptual tool because its abstract originality remains distinct and recognizable even when it is made to include a large number of individual phenomena. Although Tylor’s civilization embraces all of the world’s mechanical, scientific, and artistic achievements, his terminology remains conceptually meaningful. This is not the case for culture, which fulfills the opposite function because it delimits and exists only through this delimitation.
The distinction between civilization and culture has been subjected to many attacks for more than 250 years. It remains relevant in a world where cultures (both local and universal), tradition, and modernity interfere. In the past, most of the time, neither the understanding of culture nor that of civilization could lead to a better understanding of the other. In Nazi Germany, anti-Jewish racism was based on a naturalized idea of culture; in European colonies and in the United States, anti-black racism was based on the idea that African Americans were incapable of acquiring civilization by nature. Neither culture nor civilization has been able to help reduce value-biased dismissals of that which is foreign or which is simply different.
In the contemporary world, culture and civilization are in conflict, in which the Western and non-Western identity politics or even radical religious movements (Islamic or Christian fundamentalism) claim to be predominantly cultural in character and see as their enemies those who attempt to impose a universal or alien civilization upon them. However, as the further historical development of culture and civilization has appeared, there is no culture without civilization. there are some beliefs that mutual cultural understanding represents the most efficient reconciliatory power will be able to establish cohesion and stability and to promote East-West, but they are criticized because culture as a locally lived experience is always mediated through civilization. In parallel, civilization in itself is purely abstract universal and becomes concrete only through cultural legalization.



References:
Braham, P., & Braham, P. (2014). In Key concepts in sociology (pp. 102–105). London: SAGE.

Botz-Bornstein, Thorsten (2012) "What is the Difference Between Culture and Civilization? Two Hundred Fifty Years of Confusion," Comparative Civilizations Review: Vol. 66 : No. 66 , Article 4.
Facchini, Melki (2011). Ideology and Cultural Change. SEMINAR SEPIO JUNE 21, MSE (PARIS 1, FRANCE) and Association for the Study of Religion, Economics & Culture, ASREC Annual Meeting, April 7 – 10, 2011 Hyatt Regency, Crystal City (Washington DC)


Heywood, A. (2017). Political ideologies: an introduction. London: Macmillan Education, Palgrave.


Stuart, Hall., Cultural Formations of Modern Society in Formations of Modernity (pp. 230-274). Cambridge Polity Press, 199.





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