Culture Centralization and Decentralization
Culture is the cumulative set of knowledge, beliefs, meanings, experiences, values, notions, religion, roles. Hierarchies, attitudes, material objects, spatial relations, universal concepts and all acquired possesions held by a certain group of people and acquired over an inordinate length of time either as group or by individuals within the group. It is thus an integrated pattern of belief, human knowledge, possesions and behavior which depends on social learning and symbolic thought. In today’s world there is a lot of intercultural mingling and as such some cultures have been eroded whilst others still thrive with least culturally influenced changes manifesting in their misdst.
The different cultures have undergone cultural transformations with some experiencing high cultural decentralization. Cultural decentralization entails the expansion of cultures and their dissolution into powerful masses of globalization and modernity. It involves the erosion of cultural values and the intermingling of cross-cultural elements. This may occur as a society intermingles with other people from different cultural backgrounds that come to live among them, or as they move into areas occupied by people of other cultures.
Centralization of culture on the other hand involves the preservation of cultural aspects and their maintenance within the respective cultural group. A good example of a culture greatly influenced by other cultural groups is the Native American culture. Native Americans lived in seclusion before the European expansion. The discovery of America by Europeans led to a major influx of Europeans to Northern America. The early establishment of European dominance led to conflict and wars which coupled with diseases to greatly diminsh the Native Americans (Wilkins et al, 2003).
Though composed of a variety of numerous tribes the native Americans still had many common cultural similarities. However, with the coming of the Europeans and the introduction of their culture led to a slow diminishing of cultural aspects and values. In slow manner the enslaved Native Americans began getting culturally influenced by the early European settlers. They slowly assimilated their dress codes, new foods, crops and animals (Tinker, 1993).
The Native American way of constructing shelters slowly dimished as they adopted European construction designs. Their hunting and gathering and animal husbandry habits soon changed as they learned of intensive ways to conduct agriculture. Much later more deeper cultural aspects such as traditional rituals and sacrifices by the native Americns diminished. Their religious values also diminished as the missionaries introduced christianity. Similarly, their traditional form of medicine slowly disappeared and soon traditional medicinemen lost significance. This became especially pronounced with the onset of disease epidemics that greatly reduced the population of Native Americans. The effectiveness of the modern European medicine and medical practices greatly convinced the Native Americans to let go the importance they held for their own traditional ways of healing (Tinker, 1993).
The once centered Native American tribal culture soon became scattered as the natives got driven off their lands. This further led to more cultural erosion. This displacement led to great decentralization of the native American tribal cultures, because with the introduction of education the traditional native american values were further devalued as the Native Americans went ahead to study more of European cultural way of living and the English language as a means towards education acquisition. As the two cultures continued to intermingle, the Native American culture got more watered down, whereas the settling Europeans maintained their cultural values (Wilkins et al, 2003).
The displacement Native groups from their land and further modernaization that ensued led to the scattering of the Native American groups into other parts of the country, and thus almost completely losing their cultural values.
Tinker, E.G. (1993). Missionary conquest: the Gospel and Native American cultural genocide. Fortress Press.
Wilkins et al, (2003).Native voices: American Indian identity and resistance. University Press of Kansas.