GRE Issue Essay 79
“The most effective way to understand contemporary culture is to analyze the trends of its youth.”
Our culture is our customs, beliefs and attitudes. It is the way of life that the people of a particular country, class or society follow at a particular time. The culture of a society or country keeps changing and new trends and beliefs keep replacing the older ones. It is the young who exhibit their culture most typically. However, it is also true that the older generation also has its ways of following its culture and beliefs and the old should not be ignored. I believe, while the old are moderate in following their culture, which might be different from that of the youth, they are equally a part of the society. Hence, a proper understanding of the contemporary culture of any place can be done only by a comprehensive study of the trends of the youth as well as the way of life of the old.
Since culture keeps on changing, what was seen as a prominent trend in the olden times may not be so today. This means that culture does not remain fixed. However, it is possible that in a society at a particular time more than one culture co-exist. When it comes to understanding the contemporary culture of a society, it is the young who are the most expressive. By nature itself, the young are flamboyant. Therefore, the trends and beliefs they follow are noticed the most. They are the ones to accept the latest changes first of all and make it their trend. What they wear, think, do, and eat reflects the attitude and trends followed in the contemporary society. A superficial study would indicate that the popular culture followed by the youth is the culture of that society.
On the other hand, a proper understanding of the real contemporary culture is done only when it is studied in totality. That means the whole population should be considered and the trends followed by all the members of the society are studied. It may be true that the youth are most expressive and the contemporary culture is generally seen in their behaviours and beliefs, it is also true that the old form a large part of the society. They have their own culture, customs and beliefs. Most of these people prefer to follow their culture without expressing it. They are not flashy about their ways of lives. This is the reason that the culture they follow is not observed as the culture of the society. However, ignoring this section of the society and considering the culture of the youth as the contemporary culture would be shutting our eyes to half of the truth. A proper understanding of the society is done only when the cultures, customs, beliefs and attitudes of all the sections of a society are taken together.
As mentioned earlier, at one point of time there are more than one culture that co-exist. It is easy to read and observe the culture followed by the young as compared to that followed by the old. Although it is the beliefs and trends of the youth that come out when a society is observed for its culture, it only reflects a part of its composite culture. A society is made up of different types of people and thus different cultures are intermingled in it. Therefore, a study of the culture of a society will be complete and justified only when all the people and their trends are studied.