Why is culture important?

  • Publish On: 01 February 2018
  • Author: GP Tuition Simon Ng

Learn more about the significance of culture, which will be covered from different perspectives, like the comprehension of the individual, social, economic, political and psychological aspects. Apply your knowledge to GP Essay and Comprehension Questions to ace the A Level GP examination.


GP Tuition Online on Culture | General Paper Tuition Simon

How does culture affect the economy?

How does culture affect the economy? Read our GP Tuition Notes on Culture to get a head-start in your study of this GP topic. For example, observers argue that cultures shape the way individuals perform their roles in different occupations and professions, thus affecting the level of productivity.


Learn more about the economic impacts of culture at this online learning platform to expand your knowledge of various GP issues and refine your writing techniques for comprehension and essay questions to ace your A Level General Paper examination. Although culture may appear to have an indirect and less relevant influence on the economy, it is important to examine how cultures shape the mindsets and behaviours of individuals, which will affect pace of economic progress.

Video #1: Is economic opportunity the rationale for cultural diversity?

Admittedly, in some cases, immigrants, especially the cheap labor, are a source of threat to job opportunities and local people’s way of life. However, immigration can also bring foreign talents into our country. For example, in areas such as sports and research and development. In addition, due to the aging population, a workforce of manual labor is necessary. Most importantly, contrary to the popular belief, immigration, which stimulates local economy, actually creates more jobs in the long run.

The negative impact of cultural diversity brought upon by migration is that they cause unemployment to locals because they are cheap labour willing to accept low-wage jobs. Hence this adds to competition for locals who may not be highly skilled too but who expect highly pay. Hence, it is reasonable for the local people to see cultural diversity as a threat, given the economic challenge that it will impose on the individuals.

Our low degree of reception to cultural diversity is seen from how foreigners’ interest will undermine ours. We tend to ignore their contributions, choosing to see how they undermine our interests than to recognize how we have benefited from them.

Considering the rapid rate of change in the world, should we still hold on to traditions?

In the 21st Century, many countries have undergone rapid economic transformation to achieve modernisation, which is important in raising the living standards of individuals. The pursuit of economic goals, like attainment of economic prosperity, has benefited many households, enabling many to enjoy the fruits of labour. However, the fast-paced modernisation process has led to growing concerns over the need for cultural preservation. On the other hand, those who support modernisation reject such a view and argue that the retainment of traditions is redundant as it is a mere setback for the perpetual push for advancement in the human civilisation. In view of these polarising opinions, this essay is more inclined to the view that we should hold on to traditions while coping with the rapid pace of change and modernisation.

Economic progress necessitates the abandonment of archaic traditions

For those who advocate the need to let go of traditions for economic progress, their rationale stems from the belief that desires to hold on to traditions are impediments to economic modernisation as such outdated cultural influences conflict with economic values that promote a cyclical process of change and improvement. Preservation of traditions can stifle economic advancement as archaic cultural practices influence individuals to act in the interests of their ethnic communities, such that economic progress is compromised on. As such, modernists believe that economic progress is only possible with the abandonment of obsolete traditions. By doing so, individuals can align their mindsets and behaviours towards a national aim that enables the country to grow and prosper. For example, the Meiji Government of Japan recognized feudalism was a stumbling block that hindered modernisation. As such, they encouraged the abandonment of traditional values between 1868 and 1945. As a result, the Japanese were subjected to Western influences, while advancing its economic goals. Hence, it is evident that we should not hold on to traditions to keep up with the rapid pace of progress.

Cultural preservation is important for the creation of a national identity

However, such a view can be fatal to the maturity of modern societies as the obsessive desire for economic modernisation can lead to cultural erosion and the loss of national identities. Culture is a unifying force that binds people together in closely-knitted communities as it creates a common sense of belonging. Without cultural influences, the never-ending chase for economic success can hollow out the meaningful lives and experiences of people. As described by Mahatma Gandhi, a nation’s culture resides in the soul of its people. For example, the National Heritage Board (NHB) of Singapore introduced the ‘Our SG Heritage Plan’, which is a masterplan for Singapore to preserve its cultural heritage. With the combined efforts of the NHB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), 72 national monuments were gazetted for conservation. As a result, these efforts have helped to strengthen the Singapore identity, during the continual push for economic modernisation. Therefore, governments should hold on to traditions, while balancing the aim of economic development, in order to create and retain national identities

Retainment of traditions ensure social stability

Furthermore, holding onto traditions will be beneficial for societies as it creates social stability. Although economic progress can contribute to improvements in well-being of its citizens, culture is the driving force for individuals to play their part in the economic development of countries. It is a misleading view to believe that choosing between economic progress and cultural preservation is a zero-sum game. Instead, governments can retain traditions while attaining economic growth. Traditions promote desirable values that influence individuals to behave appropriately, thus fostering harmony and cohesion. For example, the Chinese culture promote the importance of loyalty and trust, which are essential aspects to create a cohesive society. Hence, culture can become the impetus for social stability and thus support the economic development of countries.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this essay reasserts the view that we should hold onto traditions, even though economic progress is important for the advancement of modern societies. Preservation of culture is of paramount importance in enriching the lives of people from various ethnic communities as it fosters national identity and creates social stability.