The culture is the material and spiritual expression of the people. Whatever human society converts from the natural resources to useful objects and develops ways of expressions forms part of the culture. Rather culture is an artificial creation of the material utilities those are expressed through the human mind. Culture is not individual but collective expression. Cultural psychologists often discuss on how the culture enters into psychological process of the individuals. But let us not forget here that the culture plays dual role…culture influences psychological processes of the individuals and the collective psychologies make out the culture. So, in a way, both are interdependent.
We have seen in the last chapter how the human civilizations did evolve through the long passage of the time. Though almost all the cultural phenomena’s are almost contemporary in every age, the ways of expressions in different regions are remarkably different. We can attempt to attribute such differences to the available resources in every region. For example, the Indus region lacked in the stone quarries for the alluvial plains, created by the perennial river sediments. They used mud and mud bricks, followed by baked bricks in later times to build their homes and fortifications. Human being used the natural resources available around to meet his needs. We find stone used to build ancient settlements wherever it was abundantly available. Still, we find the settlement patterns differ significantly. It is pertinent to note here, using available natural resources is not a surprise but the way he distinctly used them to meet his needs is surprising. The archaeological proofs of same era across the globe exhibit how one civilization differed from another. The settlement patterns of BMAC are not same as found in Andronovo culture or any other culture contemporary to it. Though Indus civilization was in close contact with Mesopotamians, we do find from archaeological proofs that the settlement patterns differed. Both the civilizations used seals, still there is remarkable difference in both, in symbolism as well as in language and script.
The religious beliefs, languages, architecture, mythologies and literature…we do not find any close relationship except some vague similarities in their original core. The way they are modified in different regions it has its own flavor. It is human mind, sometimes thought to be functioning universally alike, but except for a need to express and make life comfortable, it courses in its own way. The regional or territorial expressions differ significantly.
Geographic subcultures can be defined with its typical topography, climate and geological characteristics those heavily influence the attitudes and behaviors formed as a result of psychological bounds. An individual moving into a new geographic location will not generally adopt the geographically bound attitudes and behavior. (The Influence of Geographic Subcultures in the United States, Kenneth A. Coney, Arizona State University) This simply does mean that the psychology is closely associated with the region a person lives in. While moving from one to other geographic region, his originally formed psychological traits hardly do change. How these regiono-psychological traits do form?
Culture and psychologies are interdependent. True. Individuals living in a culture are influenced by their surrounding culture. The mind is impacted by the surroundings he lives in. Culture penetrates his psyche making some influence on his individual behavior. True. Culture and psychology thus is related. However, cultural psychologists do not give heed to the major question why a culture develops in specific manner? Why it becomes so distinct from others? What are the forces those govern the minds of the people living in a particular region and society that they generally exhibit their ethos in almost same way?
We must differentiate here between the individual psychologies and collective psychologies. In a way, individual human lives in the oceans of psychologies! Though individual psychology has its dependent special characteristics, they exhibit, in normal way ethos of the general psychologies of the region.
There are always some common traits those are found in particular set of the people living in common region. Western people, the psychologists agree, are more individualistic. The western psychologists treat psychology as a tool to solve the individuals’ psychological problems. The individualism reflects very well in the psychologists itself. Naturally cultural psychology, though an emerging branch, rather is focused on the cultures effect on the individual psychologies. Cross-cultural psychologies too do not speak different. However we have to explore the collective psychologies that reflect in overall cultural ethos including languages/dialects and the way they are spoken.
Europeans started thinking of the world, after 16th century for their need of their expansionist need of the time. Before, to them, the unknown world was rather mythical. Columbus’ account of the new world he came across is mythical. Megasthanese’ account of India, in third century BC, too was mythical. Rather mythologizing the material world that they encountered was a pleasing phenomenon to them. Rather, we can say, it was almost a universal general psychology to see everything in the mythical form that was barely or superficially known. However, the patterns of myth-making were not similar everywhere. And those traits still are surviving in the human being.
After era of enlightenment, Europe became technologically advanced and started looking at the rest of the world more practically. In a way, we can call it cultural shift. The cultural shift caused by the collective minds those wanted to see the world differently and exploit the world to their benefit. We need to differentiate here between spiritual culture and materialistic culture. Materialistic culture may change with the technological advances or economic prosperities or downfalls, but again the material culture, though utilitarian, the spiritual traits of the culture are too hard to change.
Europeans looked at the other people of the globe rather in contempt in this period. They divided the world in races like Semitics, Aryans. blacks, brown and yellow. The racial egotism, that always was part of their psychologies exploded because they came at the advantageous stage because of technological advances. Actually, they had loathed Jews and Muslims from historical times. The religious struggle they had in historical times with Muslims and Jews now turned to become a racial struggle. The rise of Aryan theory was, in fact, an outcome of their present technological advances those politically proved the Europeans superior over all other races. The supremacist psychological traits are always hidden in the inferiority complexes those form the part of the subconscious collective psychology.
The racial categorization of the humans living across the globe was an insane idea, but creation of the Europeans. In a way, it was collective explosion of the inferiority complex of the Europeans of 18thcentury. It is not yet subsided as still they are on a hunt to search for their original homeland! The people those are confused of their own roots are certainly pitiable!
But this phenomenon is directly related with the collective psychology of the people. Every society living in different regions have characteristically distinct psychologies that sometimes do clash with each other.
So, as the cultural psychologists propose that the culture penetrates individual and responds according to his individual psychology this may be correct, considering above points. “Theory of others” comes true when a cultural group confronts other cultural group/s.
We need to think and elaborate over why, first of all, independent cultural groups evolve? Why the collective identities are needed or developed, no matter even if religious? Religion is one of the parts of the culture. How cultures do change suddenly or gradually? How we can differentiate Gujrathi people from Maharashtrians for their way of thinking? There are many examples we need to think on.
Also, there are forced cultures. Forced cultures would mean attack on individual and collective psychologies. We need to think, how a human being would react to such cultural enforcements. Would he adapt to the forced cultures or would create some other distinct cultures with the admixture of his own and enforced? Or will he adapt to the other cultures in his own way without changing his thinking patterns?
We must keep in mind here that there is close relationship between the regions of specific geological features of the regions and the cultures developed in their folds. I will show in next chapters that the way of thinking and expressions is interlinked with the geological formations of the regions wherever the particular set of the people live for generations. Superficially geographically connected lands may have entirely different group of language speaking people with their unique culture setting them apart from their close neighbors.
Geological features include geomagnetism, local gravitation, the chemistry of the rocks and soil, altitudes and the formations beneath the crust of the earth. The people living in the company with these features, eating food yielded from the same soil and drinking water from the rivers and wells that is having flavor of specific dilated minerals/compounds existent in the land that has its own combinations, a result of the specific geology of specific region. All this makes inevitable impact on the physical features and psychology of the people living in specific geologically formed regions. There are sufficient proofs to show relationship between geology and general psychology of the people, which we shall see in next chapters.