The influence that culture and politics both have over each other.

Essay by armstrongjdCollege, Undergraduate March 2003

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Culture and Politics

Culture and politics: An interesting concept, the idea of culture is hard to define. What exactly is culture? How does it affect us? In J. Harry Wray's book Sense and Nonsense: American Culture and Politics, he says culture is "a shared symbol system, linking members of a group to each other and to history, thus providing them with an identity." What this means is that culture is how different groups respond to and interpret symbols. As examples Wray talks about a aboriginal tribe in Malaysia who believe that thunder storms are the result of human violations of the natural order of things, whereas we see thunder storms as the mixing of a hot air mass colliding with a cooler one in the presence of certain conditions.

Now that I've tried to define culture I want to try to show its importance. By defining culture as the way a collected group of people interpret symbols one must try to give an example of these symbols.

Cultural symbols are essentially anything that is thought of as unique to a group people; however, it really could be anything such as a house, car, clothes, but also street signs, telephones, television, and radio. These cultural "symbols" are everywhere and usually we aren't even aware that they are symbols of and to our culture.

Since culture is the way we interpret these symbols, it is very important to realize that these symbols will affect our culture and moreover they will affect our politics. The ways our symbols will affect our politics are that they can change our perspectives and ideas about our communities and the world around us. Symbols in culture often affect politics and how government works, an example that Wray gives is the importance of family. In the U.S.