Avi Nardia – security expert, martial artist, founder of the defence martial art KAPAP.
The general position is that culture is a broader framework in relation to other concepts that we place in the topic of this summary, so we will start by defining a culture. Culture can be defined as the totality of a society’s way of life. Members of a society learn and share a common culture. However, the concept of culture is very complex. The word “culture” is used in sociological and everyday vocabulary in a number of different ways. In all the ways it is used, culture is implicitly, or explicitly opposed to nature. Everything that people produce or do is culture, and everything that exists or arises without human intervention is part of the world of nature. Ralph Linton defines culture: “The culture of a society is the way of life of its members; a collection of ideas and habits that are taught, shared and passed down from generation to generation”.
According to T. Parsons, human society is not possible without a common culture. It enables people to communicate, to understand each other and to act in accordance with common goals. The existence of a common culture is a functional precondition for the survival of any society.
Culture, as a fundamental principle of the organization of social life, represents a system of common guidelines according to which individuals are governed, because, without guidelines society could neither survive nor function. It would not exist. If culture is a “blueprint for the adherence of members of a particular society” then an autochthonous, exclusivist culture, which is “adhered to by members of society” influences the creation of a closed social order, which is as a rule, conservative, authoritarian, it is a reflection of self-understanding, self-perception of one’s own ethnic community, it is a reflection of collective ideas, collective “memory”. Immersed in their national culture, people seek answers formulated in their own past. There is no doubt that today myth is at the center of theoretical interest due to the simple fact that no phenomenon of modern culture can be understood without perceiving the significant presence of myth. Many authors acknowledge that the transition from a world of myth to a world of reflective thinking was a crucial step in European civilization. However, with the absolutization of reason, man’s life itself became poorer and what has previously give hope was lost. Myth has a cathartic and purifying role. The three most important human functions are present in the myth: religious, cognitive and aesthetic. Because of this unifying, syncretic character of myth, we can sense why myth is the dominant form of the entire spirituality of men of early cultures and the initiator of moral and civilizational activities.
In our culture, there are several examples of raising one’s own mythologized past. And then follows a political revision of the past. Simply put, final account of political and cultural establishment is served to citizens. A good part of our culture searches for its future by digging through the past, guided by the belief in its own exclusivity in relation to other cultures. In the twentieth century, there was a big interest in studying political myths for example from fascist ideologies, civic democracy to other myths that originated from various political discourses.
The period after World War II was a period of great upheaval in which traditional patterns of life were removed and replaced with new ones. The progress of the mass media, changes in the family structure and roles, free time, work, schooling, all this served to create a series of marginalized discourses within a culture.
The scientific approach to the subculture did not appear before the 1920s, when a group of sociologists and criminologists in Chicago began collecting materials on youth street gangs and deviant groups (criminals, smugglers, etc.) In this view, the subculture is portrayed as an independent organism that functions outside the larger social, political and economic framework.
In the past decades, memory studies and the study of myths have gained prominence in the social sciences and humanities. Memory studies investigate the ways in which past and present phenomena are remembered and imagined. Myth studies examine the ways certain representations and ideas come to be shared as true. Subcultures are not only built around shared passions and interests—either for music, politics but also around shared stories, imaginations, and memories. The reality in which we live is transmitted through the language and it survives by being transmitted through the various stories that are told. The central role of narrative in organizing, maintaining and transmitting knowledge about us and the world is emphasized in several places by Jerome Bruner when he says that “we organize our experiences and our memories of human events mainly in the form of narratives – stories, excuses, myths…“
Myth is a form of narrative and narrative is lately seen as a new kind of autobiographical project and psychologists have realized that it is important to deal with stories and how they shape a person’s identity. This tendency is especially pronounced in the modern age, where life is seen as a certain narrative structure, as a plot in which a person becomes an actor who occupies a central point and plays a major role in the everyday construction and reconstruction of his personal narrative.
In every culture, there are narratives that are dominant and that are imposed as narratives that determine desirable forms of beliefs and behaviors. Cultural or subcultural narratives influence the giving of meaning to certain events in people’s lives. From the multitude of events, those stand out who, together with other important narratives, generate the narrative of one culture or subculture. Most people accept this view of the world and dominant truth as constituents of their identity, but over time such dominant structures begin to lose their power in light of questioning their ability to provide a satisfactory answer when it comes to understanding personal identity. These structures are replaced by those that are more flexible, relative and that re-examine the past and knowledge and that reevaluate existing norms. Such structures carry a new kind of social narrative and advocate that knowledge is relatively both socially and politically conditioned and that it is connected to power structures, and that science is only one of the possible ways in which the world can be known.
In the light of the new position of man in a world that is uncertain, ambiguous and indeterminate, the question of the authenticity of identity arises, that is the authenticity of the narrative. The narrative used to have an educational significance. It gave a person a sense of belonging and security and only certain individuals could be narrators. They had the power to connect the everyday, ordinary man with the world of giants, heroes who fought against evil, showed superhuman abilities and performed heroic deeds respecting high ethical standards, protecting the weak and fighting for the common good. In contrast, the world of modern man is woven from the narratives of corporations, which turn the market economy into a meta-narrative and which manipulate instincts and emotions.