Реферат: Ten reasons for a tradition of modernity

                                           MADE IN BRITAIN                 (An Outlook on Tradition and Modernity in the U.K.)

As I am sureyou have noticed, most of the things we buy these days are labeled “Made inTaiwan” or China or even better Bangladesh. Rare are the moments when weactually get a hold of a “Made in the U.K.” product. “Made in Britain” seems towithhold a content that is more than a label. A Cadbury chocolate is not justany ‘chocolate’ and a Royce isn’t exactly a Dacia; well it depends on how youlook at it!

What are thefirst ideas that enter our minds when we think “The United Kingdom?” Apart fromthe images that everyone seems to embrace such as the royal family, Shakespeareor the British weather, people tend to understand Britain from two angles: oftradition and modernity.

Accordingto the ¹survey undergone by theBritish Council in 2001, the U.K. is viewed as being traditional in high-incomecountries while in the middle and low-income countries it is seen as modern. The same surveyshows that the image of the U.K. is also different in the cases of those peoplethat have or haven’t visited the country. The former tend to see the Britishsociety as modern, while the latter, gather that the U.K is more ‘traditional.’Using this information we can conclude that people draw up an image of anothercountry according to many factors such as the level of development (of thatcertain country), the degree of education and also on personal experience andinformation.

Comprehending the two terms‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ is essential in fully analyzing their relationshipin the U.K.

Does one know the old sawabout the secret behind the loveliness of English gardens? Asked to explain alord replied: ‘ Simple, take ordinary grass and turn the soil regularly forfive hundred years.’ This, metaphorically speaking, has created the image oftradition in the U.K.: regularity, permanence, devotement, and rigor, acontinuous glorification of the past and a constant appraisal and opening tothe future.

Hi-tech gadgets that makethe society „technologically advanced,” so to say, do not represent modernityin the U.K., or anywhere else in the world. Modernity refers to the characterof life under changed circumstances; on one hand having the capacity to makethe moment one lives in as vibrant as possible, while on the other hand,strongly maintaining traditional values.

When one visits the U.K. oneis bewildered by how everything around from houses to museums or shops arebeautifully conserved but at the same time astoundingly modern. Taxi’s are nolonger a sober black but full of colour and personality,double- deckers move rather fast on the little, narrow streets so picturesque that one has the impression they wont fit or that only a 19thcentury carriage would. History is everywhere you turn in Britain but the‘decorations’ bring light and individuality to the picture. The U.K. has neverlagged behind in the process of modernization nor in the process of keepingtraditions alive: in architecture, in design, in fashion, in car making, in itsgardens, in its literature, in other words in its ‘image’.

In my opinion, Britain isnot all about Manchester United, kings and queens, the blue blood phobia orfive o’clock tea.

British design for exampleis a topic that well enhances the liaison between tradition and modernity.

² Frederique Huygensees British design as: “… Burberry raincoats, floral interior fabrics,Jaguars, Shetland pullovers, Dunhill lighters and Wedgwood pottery. Tradition,respectability and quality.” But later in the work we discover that even thoughtraditionally that is what British design stands for, modernisation does notmake this image disappear.

Britain has been the witnessof several radical movements brought along by what is known as the “streetculture,” such as the anarchy of punk and pop musicians such as the Sex Pistolswhose music was a blasphemous treatment of the monarchy and country. Well-known pop musicians like Boy George, David Bowie or Adam Antcreated a new statement in British fashion design by wearing shocking outfitscreated by young fashion designers. But such movements did not create profoundchanges in Britain’s image. In fact, design was known as the tonic forBritain’s economy that had drastically fallen after the two World Wars, andbrought industry back to life by sheer unbridled competition. Actually Britishdesign became “shocking” rather late due to British reluctance to all that wasmodern. Even though the U.K. was the actual ‘generator’of industrialization, the late arrival of a Modern Movement is often associatedwith the quest of acceptance of the machine.

British society pushed asidemass production and classless products over hand-made and small scaleproduction, until it realized that tradition and modernity are notcontradictory or exclusive thus learning how to make the two coexist. Forexample, a radical movement such as punk anarchy together with the art school’screativity brought innovation to design in the U.K. The effects were thatstarting with the 80’s fashion was back in the international spotlight, theindustry made a huge profit and alongside other industries it aided economy inregaining its strengths. Designs by Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, JohnRichmond, succeeded in finding their identity in the world of ‘haute-couture’by creating a twist of tradition and modernity.

Another important branch ofBritish design, is the car-making industry. I find car making in the U.K. to bea relevant example of the way in which it has always strived to combine thetraditional and the modern. Well known for their class car manufacturing ofmodels such as the Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Walter Owen Bentley or theJaguar, the term “Britishness” becomes self-explanatory.

Due to the fact that Britishapproach to design is one of common sense rooted in the craft tradition, thecars have maintained that classic design and style that spell ‘British’ orbetter said ²´“well groomed andtame” as the Jaguar is described. But these types of cars are spicily pricedand their affordability comes easy only to those who are willing and can paylarge sums of money. An interesting fact is that according to ³ BBC News, in 2000 carmakers in Britain were ordered to cut prices for they were up to 10% and even20% higher than in other European countries. Still, the 2000 figure of saleswas that of 2.21 million sold cars and in 2001 salesestablished a record sale of 2.33 million beating the record of 1989.

Althoughthe class cars do not figure in the top ten most sold, they do appear in thetop 30 and 40 which no doubt shows the relatively high living standard inBritain. Even though it is still considered to be a class-structured society,high-income rates have contributed to political tranquillity. ˉ Toparaphrase the work “20th Century Britain,” compared to the 1900when British society was sharply divided among class and gender lines, inEdwardian Britain this structured status quo was not meekly accepted byeveryone (we are to remember the Suffragette movement). Therefore, we can seethat as society evolved so did mentality and as living standards surged theclass and gender issues dissipated and Britain ˉ “seemed to be movingtowards a fairer, more egalitarian society.”

Modernitylies in the power to somehow shape mentality, much like modern ideas give a newand polished look to a classic Bentley or make the Range Rover more equipped towin the Paris- Dakar.

Arthas no history because ˜ “history has an unchanging basic structure” andas car making, fashion or everything design represents is art, art knows no temporal boundaries.Because just like tradition is at times erroneously considered a “thing of thepast” without any contemporary legitimacy, and modernity is often mistakenlyunderstood as a synonym for modernism, art is timeless.

Atradition can be born today and referred to as being modern or not. Today we sooften state that some clothing article is ‘modern’ when in fact it was alsoknown to be ‘modern’ in the 60’s or at the beginning of the century!

Bythis I would like to conclude that ‘modernity’ is not necessarily somethinghappening right now or in the future and ‘tradition’ is not just the dociletransmission of some dead deposit but the living repetition that manages tosuggest a fresh truth.

Ulrich Bez, CEO for Aston Martin describes thiscar in such a way that clearly elicits what tradition and modernity are in theU.K. Therefore, when you ever ask yourselves: “What can a car say about acountry?” think of this:

“ Aston Martin is also aboutbeing British; the best of British. Those characteristics which appear to beopposites: Discipline with creativity…tradition with a new twist…respect ofcraft and love of modernity…traditions combined with free thinkinginventiveness.”

This is how I see traditionand modernity in the U.K. A profound respect for traditional values, a promoterof creativity and an inborn pride in saying: “Made in Britain.” Now you canunderstand what I meant that this “is more than a label!”


1.   www.Britishcouncil.com

2;2’ Frederique Huygen “British Design Image & Identity” first published 1989in Great Britain, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London – (page 15 (2), page 24 (2’))

3.    BBC News, SundayApril 8th 2001(also exists in article form at www.bbc.com)

4.    “20thCentury Britain-Economic, Social and Cultural Change” edited by Paul Johnson,first published 1994 in London and New York, Longman,( page 123)


5.    Peter Donaldsonand John Farquhar “Understanding the British Economy”, Penguin Group 1988,(page 11)

6.    “Art Has NoHistory- The Making and Unmaking of Modern Art” edited by John Roberts, Verso1994, (page1)

 7.  www.astonmartin.com

Name: Irina Oana Gligor

Address: Aura Buzescu #32

               Sector 2


Telephone: 250.65.93


E-mail:chieffy1@excite.com  now: irinagligor@localgenius.com

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