Реферат: Великобритания - традиции и современность. Личное представление. (UK - Tradition and modernity. A personal view)

UK- Tradition and modernity. A personal view

“A culture is the sum of allthe things by which humanity can choose to differ”

I have chosen to paraphrase Brian Eno’s(British musician) words about culture to start my essay with because they arerelated to the issue of multiculturalism that I wish to approach in my paper.Starting from my belief that a country is what her people are, I think that thecomplex and diverse nature of today’s British society can be better understoodif we take a close look at the ones who are actually forming this society- theBritish people

Since the battle ofHastings…. Say the word  “British” andthe thoughts of most people would be directed to the language of Shakespeare,to the famous British accent, to the royal succession, to Big Ben, to the 5o’clock tea, to the black humor, to the bowler hat and so on.

About fifty years ago…Saythe words “British people” and the following might cross their minds:conservative, traditional, polite, stiff, moderate.

Nowadays…Say the words “British identity” and you might find it described only by “fluctuating”.

“Strange”, youmight add, arguing that a portrait of “British” people or on the meaning of “being British” can be drawn inprecise lines. In fact, just above, people proved to have long-establishedguide marks when it comes to sketching them. A simple, new and controverse wordsuch as “fluctuating” seems rather unsuitable to stand near the traditional andwell-known “British identity”.

Still, thesignificance of  “fluctuating Britishidentity” might pop anxiously in your mind, arising the curiosity to search foreven a seed of truth in it. And, if that’s the case, I believe the startingpoint should be the very basic element of this identity: the character andpersonality of the British people.

The keyquestion to be reviewed is whether a single and unvaried British temper enteredthe gates of this millenium. 

A return tothe historic events might provide part of the answer to this.  After the Second World War, Britain faced aninflux of European refugees. As a result of it, sizeable groups of Americans,Australians, Chinese and even Indian or Pakistani settled down and concentratedin communities in particular British areas. “Unsettled Multiculturalism”written by B. Hesse gives a detailed description of the process, concludingthat throughout the following decades, the new foreign-born element of thepopulation induced by the immigration waves reflected its own image in theBritish identity. The cultural prints left are in fact the assumptions andaspirations, the values and believes of each community, that have shaped andoutlined the country’s identity.

Nowadaysprecisely this diversity of backgrounds and experience define Britain as amulticultural country. The traditional “Being British” has certainly takencenturies to forge but I strongly support that only by submitting to a modernand constant process of renewal with elements from different cultures can anation survive, open new and expanding horizons for its society and build acommon cultural framework for its people. Most countries embrace this flexibleattitude of taking in a new human input but to me what is uniquely “British” isthe ability to preserve the core traditional values of the culture and add tothem the “spice’ ingredients of modernity. These don’t manage to alter Britishtradition, seconds J. Rutherford in his book “Young Britain”, but improve its“taste”, its glorious achievements so that a better and more complex heritagecan be passed to the next generations.

From my pointof view, reconciling tradition with modernity in Britain is like putting in aglass the oil (British culture) and water (foreign cultures) together. There’sno mixture in this, in fact both remain distinctive entities and conserve theirproperties. But most important, the content of that glass will grow, as youcontinue to pour in it the vitality of water. “Salting” and “ peppering” theBritish culture with a multitude of values from foreign cultures wouldcertainly complete the fruits of tradition and “bake” a more vibrant, modernand dynamic British identity. And precisely the main “ingredient” used to“bake” it is the people’s personality.

Psychologyrecognizes that the individual’s identity is closely determined by theframework of various social encounters and experiences. As C. Squire clearlystated in “Culture in psychology”, only the collectivity’s accounts provide thefoundation for individuals to make sense of their personal experience andtherefore for constructing their identity. The rule is in fact a simple one andI could formulate it like this: people FORM a society but the society, too,FORMS people.

If at themacro- cultural level described above the frame traditions of the immigrantpeople are just an addition to the host country’s cultural heritage, withoutchanging it in any way, at the micro- social level the common life of thenative British involves an interaction with people from different backgroundsand a mixing with their habits, views, way of dressing, music, sport and soon.  In such a fluctuating context, it’salmost impossible for the native British individuality to remain the same,emphasize R. Baulock, A. Heller and A. Zollberg in the study “The Challenge ofDiversity Integration and Pluralism in Societies of Immigration”. Yes, it“shelters” its primary and traditional “moderation”, “politeness”, “stiffness”,but at the same time combines them with modern and distinguished Indian,American, Chinese or Asian “flavors”.  Certainold inside-British stereotypes have been eroded by the new fluid identities andevery field of modern British life stands as a living proof to testify this.

However,there’s no recipe to indicate us what exactly will the notion of “Britishness”comprise if so many cultures become integrate parts of a long and famed Britishstructure. Indeed the result may be unknown, but the “cooking” stages areobvious for anyone who walks on the streets of Britain nowadays.

Cut intoslices and attentively viewed, the traditional British life is increasinglyspread with stereotypical immigrants ‘ traits and practices “such asvegetarianism, meditation or yoga”, explain Mike Storry and Peter Childs in“British Cultural Identities”. The same authors agree that the list couldendless go on, from the new sports adopted to various forms of entertainment,fashion styles and even to food or drink. If these are just a few of theforeign  “whip creams” to adorn theBritish life, than a further distinctive “relish” of it is given by festivalsand significant dates. These are in my perspective the most clear example ofculture link between the uprooted people and the native ones. They settleperhaps the most democratic arena where expression and change can take placeand where tradition embraces modernity in one and unique combination wrapped ina British manner.  The Chinese New Yearor Halloween are just a few celebrations that show traces of foreign influence,but that acquire British dimensions because the land, the fireworks, and mostimportant the people that take part at it are British. Sharing a common joy,being together for the same holiday borrowed or not, unit people and set up thegroundwork for a transfer of cultural identity pieces. Some of them remain pureBritish, others emerge as a mixture of cultures.  If the first category embodies Britishtraditions, the second deals with modern British life.

A newbornchild in Britain nowadays will be marked by both of them and will mould itspersonality from traditional British “dough” but with small modern “drops” ofAmerican flexibility, Chinese perseverance, Asian patience, Europeaninnovation, Australian cheerfulness. Perhaps in this inner mixture will thenotion of “being British” truly see its future.


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