Thursday, September 27, 2012

Openness and cultural change

In my last blog post we looked at a summary of my "world according to Jack" theory ending with the opinion that the most important resource for cultural change is people and the interpersonal trust relationships that they build.

The "problem/desire>solution>acceptance>stability/satisfaction" pathway is the heart of "the world according to Jack" theory.

The second most important resource for cultural change is acceptance of the possibility for change.  The more open and accepting a culture is the more likely it is to undergo changes.  The less open and accepting a culture is the less likely it is to undergo changes.

Change and the openness of a group to the possibility of change is directly linked with the ability or charisma of a presenter of an idea to the group.

Essentially the better someone is at encouraging others to change the less open the group has to be to change.  The more open the group is the less skilled the presenter of change must be to encourage change.

If a group is open to change and there are multiple skillful presenters encouraging mutually exclusive forms of change the group becomes conflicted and stagnates, unable to change.

For cultural change to occur we need a group problem or desire.  We need a presenter of a solution.  We need a group open enough to embrace or accept the presenters solution.  We need the solution to satisfy the desire/problem or improve the group stability.

If the group fails to stabilize or is unsatisfied with the solution the process repeats.

Again people are the most important component in cultural change.

Because change is so dependent on both the openness of the group and the ability of an individual to encourage through either coercion or convincing culture change cannot be predicted in any specific way.

We can predict that sub cultures will change in order to either cooperate with or oppose dominate cultures.

Typically the result of opposition with a dominate culture is the destruction of the sub culture.  An example is the sub culture of the 1960's and early 1970's called the "Hippies" eventually dwindled away feeding into other oppositional sub cultures.

There are times when oppositional sub cultures such as the communists in Viet Nam or the revolutionaries in the United States were able to successfully oppose the predominate cultures they were in opposition to.

The specific outcome of either becoming the predominate culture or being eliminated is so dependent on human variability and the available resources that the longterm outcome is often impossible to predict.

For example some people will claim that the "Hippie" sub culture was not eliminated even though it is not the dominate culture in the United States.  The distinctive forms of dress, hair styles, language and the cultural focus on "peace" that predominated in the "Hippie" sub culture are not currently predominate in the United States.  Many younger people don't even know the word "Hippie". 

People who believe strongly in the cultural values of that sub culture will insist that they have been incorporated into the predominate culture.  When President Bush sent troops into both Afghanistan and Iraq his public approval ratings were in the 90% range.

Today those decisions are regarded differently, however, for a culture focused on the value of "peace" which was central to the "Hippie" sub culture a 90% public approval rating at the time for a President involved in a controversial war tells us quite a lot.

Regardless of the example used to demonstrate the idea or the ability of the individual to objectify their response to an example I stand firmly behind the premise that human variability prevents the possibility of creating a model that will predict cultural change.

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