I see culture as a good like everything else. How it works, how it evolves is based on market dynamics which are shaped by changing realities and individual action.
When people talk about any culture I often don’t find myself saying “that’s enlightened” or “that’s barbaric” but asking myself what is this a response to. Often many things result in cultural changes…
– Economic realities, many trends reflect economic realities of that moment of time. Traditions that may revolve around growingly scarce resources may change to deal with them.
– Institutional realities, as institutions in society become obsolete or dysfunctional new ones begin to form and can create a market for its replacement. Think of the current deterioration of the political establishment and the growing market share for ideas that were marginalized in the past like libertarianism and socialism as American society seeks to replace the prior status quo that has failed to meet societal demands.
– Technological realities, new technology sometimes creates changes out the ability to do things you couldn’t before. Think of the changing in how we shop and the brutal death of retail stores to online shopping which brings all sorts of cultural and economic changes. Another example is electronic instruments and how music is produced and the complexity of production methods used to take a song from a rough recording to a hit song.
– deradicalization or deotherization, every generation some group that is seen as “outside” or practices that seem as “radical” becomes normalized into the cultural fabric mainly because the visibility of the consequences of that oppression becomesso wide spread or visible the next generation grows up with differing views towards these things. For example the LGBT community and Cannabis consumption were were drastically shifted in the cultural space this last generation. Prior generations it was racial integration, and many generations ago was between different Christian sects learning to coexist. Pluralism is great but it is a multi-generational process for its benefits to play out.
So when people scream “I can’t believe this is unacceptable” or “what is the world coming to” I just sit back reflect on the direction and momentum of cultural change from the perspective of an avid observer.