Societies and social beliefs change from tribe to tribe, and from nation to nation. The constructed nature of social beliefs mandate that from one society to another, the social beliefs change because each tribe has experienced a different growth curve, has experienced a different history, has identified different seminal events. As a result, each tribe has a unique set of socially constructed beliefs.
For most of the last century, the primary understanding of social values has been based on a constructed and evolutionary model. Darwin’s and his cousin Galton’s theories of constructed identities have influenced the field of sociology. What was once believed to be passed down as ‘truth’ on the authority of a society’s religious beliefs has now been redefined as ‘myth construction.’ We believe that man’s feelings of weakness, or powerlessness over aspects of his environment has led individual societies to build myths which look toward supernatural, or causes which are based on factors which are ‘essentially other’ than the human experience in order to give them a sense of power over the powerful, or control over the uncontrollable aspects of life.
However, while the individual details of these social values change from tribe to tribe, I see a common thread through all of man’s tribal beliefs and values. The Kaulong of New Guinea believe in spirit powers which emanate from the individual that form the basis of their societal values (Goodale, 1995). The Greeks and Romans believed that separate beings, the Gods of Mt Olympus were causal to their lives events, and therefore their values were build around the process of interacting, and influencing the God’s. The Chinese worship their ancestors, and believe that through honoring the ancient ancestors and ancient traditions that good fortune and power will flow into their daily lives.
The similarity between these tribal values is that each human tribe looks outward, beyond themselves and the physical life to a metaphysical influence over life in order to gain meaning, understanding, power, and influence over their own lives. Humans have a unified and universal value construct which seeks to connect to a higher power, a life force outside of ourselves to which we look for meaning. This is a universal value, timeless, and unchanging across the centuries.
Social values and cultural ideas as identified in architecture and personal – cultural space usage
San Bernardino’s campus of the California State university system is a peaceful and small campus setting in the shadow of the San Bernardino mountains. The setting is peaceful, and the campus is laid out to reflect, as well as enhance the mountains which with just to the west of campus. The social values of the college are obviously built around the value of higher education.
The most obvious element of space usage in the campus which gives support to the commitment to education is the library, which sits in the very center of the campus buildings. All roads come to the hub of campus, which is the library building. However the library is not a dominant structure, which sticks out is ugly architectural disharmony with its surroundings. The library’s main entrance is perfectly designed to so as to flow with, and not dominate the mountain range which stands majestically behind the building. This usage of space and design resemble and support the college’s mindset that education should be an integral part of life, and that life is a part of the ecological and environmental system of which it is a part. Education does not dominate the environment, neither does the environment dominate and direct education. But the two needs to work together and both be used in the framework which creates our lives.
Culturally, the programs of the university campus also reflect a balanced approach to life. USC-SB is a small college campus which is part of a larger system. The university has diverse offerings of programs, and is not heavily influences by the sciences, technology, or the humanities. We are in practice what society is becoming in reality, a part of a multicultural organization which values and recognizes the importance of contributions of diverse races, studies, and social values and influences.
Who am I?
As a young women, an individual who is beginning my adult life, I feel that I am a combination of both constructed values which are part of me environment, as well as a self-directed human being. The ancient and outdated argument of nurture vs. nature no longer is relevant to today’s culture, as it was never a valid argument. Engaging the agreement of nurture vs. nature is like arguing over which part of an automobile is more important, the wheels, or the engine, or wasting time and energy discussing which part of an airliner is more important, the wings or the engines. Without both, neither the plane, nor the car will make one inch of progress. In the same way, I am a socially influenced member of my community, and a self-directed individual.
In regards to the social construction of my identity, beginning at an early age, my values and beliefs were influenced by my family, and friends. Early lessons of love, kindness, forgiveness and hope were taught by my parents and siblings. These elements helped formed my personal value base before I left elementary school. These elements were not imposed on me, but are part of a created design which passes social values and personal value from parent to child.
As a university student, I am opposed to those who question the value of this process, and seek to reprogram my personal beliefs. Values clarification classes, and a universal cynicism toward ‘traditional values’ in the university setting is offensive to a person who both has a strong sense of who they are, and to a person who has learned the value of the socially constructed identity which is passed along from parent to child. The university makes a poor substitute for a family. The family should, and in my case did complete the process of lovingly helping me form my identity, so that at the university level, I am ready to become involved as a member of a community. In this respect, I choose not to become a new person, or change my identity.
During the time when our nation was settled, we had a politically incorrect, but completely multicultural society. Jews, Hispanics, Germans, Irish, English and French came to our nation, and endured severe bigotry at times. But each people group accepted the goal of a unified country, and a prosperous future as their personal goal. As a result, the nation worked toward unity, and became prosperous ahead of, and beyond any other nation’s imagination.
I see in our current drive for politically correct speech a tendency for individuals to attempt to draw boundary lines around their personal space as the ranchers did with barbed wire a century ago. We refuse to work for a common good because we are focused on our own small minded priorities.
In doing so, we forsake the possibility of a prosperous future which could be constructed by the cumulative efforts of the community, and trade it for ‘what’s in it for me.’
Yes, I believe our campus is too focused on multicultural issues, political correctness, and a foolish pursuit of equality by eliminating all social values. As people, we so have values, and by working together, these values motivate us toward personal achievement. I believe that many campus professors take it as their personal quest to reprogram students into a multicultural morass of limited moral responsibility which has opened a Pandora’s box of irresponsible behavior which is breeds socially unhealthy individuals, and weakens our university, our culture, and our nation because we no longer educate the character of the individual as well as the intellect.
Goodale, Jane. To Sing with the Pigs is Human. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 1995