Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Cultural Lag and Afghan Society


Cultural Lag and Afghan Society

A society tends to suffer from cultural lag when there is a considerable gap between the material culture and non-material culture of the society. The cultural lag basically results from speedy developments in material aspect of the culture, while the non-material culture tends to move slower. The material culture basically includes the tangible things that are socially used by a society, while the non-material culture includes ideas, norms, values and traditional practices. The societies in today's world are largely influenced by the developments in science and technology that keep on inventing new products for the use of the people. Therefore, the material culture is viable to quick changes.

With each passing day, societies are introduced with new materials that they have to compensate in their daily lives; which adds further contents to the list of material culture. Whereas, the non-material culture, as mentioned earlier, includes concepts, ideas and norms and values, which are mostly comprehended with normative perceptions. Most of the time the societies develop strong sanctity and respect for the larger portion of non-material culture, therefore, they tend to oppose any sort of changes in them. Mostly, the values and traditions are considered as the historical asset and they mostly serve as the identity of a culture. All the existing societies of the world seem to preserve their identity and individuality and most of the times oppose changes in them. This particular phenomenon leads to cultural lag in the society.

There are various problems related to cultural lag. As the developments in material culture are not easily welcomed and the non-material culture is not easily adapted as per the changes, the new developments and technological gifts, instead of benefiting the society keep on bringing it many disadvantages. The use and the reaction to a technological invention basically decide its impact on the society. Technology itself being neutral largely relies on its use. And the use has to be decided by the non-material culture.

It is always difficult to fix a square peg in a round hole and that is exactly the case with the concept under discussion. The additions in material culture when the non-material culture is a non-adaptive one prove to be square pegs that have to be fixed in the round holes and that is never going to be easy. Another major problem that may rise from cultural lag is frustration and stagnation of a society to a certain extent. Frustration may arise from the conflicts regarding the compelling inflow of the material culture in the society and the endeavors of the guardians of norms and values of the society to counter them. This clash most of the times result into very tense situation wherein the conflicts tend to frustrate people to a great extent.

The same phenomenon has a propensity to give rise to stagnation in a society, which pushes a society towards backwardness. This stagnation can keep on going for a long period of time unless there is a harmonious interaction between both types of culture. Mostly, in a society the old generation goes against the introduction of new items while most of the people in younger generation readily accept the new items. This can also give rise to generation gap that can, upon persistence and intensification, prove detrimental for social interactions.

In most of the cases the societies that have tribal norms and values and suffer from religious extremism do not seem to accept changes quickly. The non-material culture is mostly linked with traditional and religious sanctity and they are tried to be kept intact, away from the contamination by the external changes. Failing to provide better code of conduct in response to changes they reject them vehemently and even are not ready that others should benefit from them as well. Afghanistan has been one of such types of societies. Though there has been considerable decrease in the attitude in some of the urban regions, most part of the country still remain remote and extensively influenced by the rigid norms and values.

There are evident examples of the misuse of the modern technology in our country that basically rises because of its unfamiliarity in Afghan culture. The traditional norms and values seem to be bewildered whether to accept them or not. And even if they are accepted, the question remains as how should their appropriate use, as per the ethical aspects, be guaranteed. Moreover, the inflow of technology has surpassed its requirement within the society. Though the society does not need it, it has flowed in and is affecting the society. A very evident example in this regard can be cited of mobile phones. Do the people really need the number of phones used in our society? Do they really know how best to use this technology? What are the ethical aspects of the use of a mobile phone? These are the questions that are yet to be answered properly by our non-material culture.

In this particular article it is not suggested that the use of modern technology should not be welcomed. But it should happen in such a way that it must not result into cultural lags, that can prove disadvantageous for our society. Otherwise, it is very much clear that the technological developments have positive impacts on a society. As a matter of fact one of the reasons of mentioning such examples can be that we have to make our non-material culture more welcoming. By keeping the basics of our culture intact, we can open our arms to myriads of changes that can help us keep going with the changing nature of the time.

Now that we are in a process to move, at least in theory, from a tribal society to a democratic one, we have to open up a bit, be critical of the obsolete ideas and values that have given us nothing except a narrow minded approach towards the world. We have to back the social movements that support the changes and developments in the country and that hold the key to a prosperous life to thousand of people. It is really not easy to bring about changes in social life as social processes tend to take much time, but it must also be noted that we have already wasted much of our time, resources and above all energy in proving our wrong right. Now, it is time we must realize what stands to be right at this particular point of time for us.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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