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The Influence of Modernity On Traditional Communities

Updated: May 9



A World Transformed: Modernity's Impact on Traditional Societies


The grand grip and dominance of the modern world on us is undeniable. Technological revolutions have fundamentally reshaped our lives compared to those of our pre-industrial, pre-media ancestors. Much of what makes this world vastly unfair, for example, can be attributed to modern development.


However, remnants of these traditional societies still exist – not just isolated tribes, but also communities that have maintained a sense of their cultural "purity" in the face of westernization and globalization. From the Roma people to the Samaritans to tribesmen and tribeswomen across Africa, the effects of modernity, positive and negative, have yet to fully influence the world to really make it a global, diverse "universal culture" where all members of the globe are entailed. Whether that globalist notion is positive or negative by itself, is a different topic worthy to be pondered upon.


Yet, as technology and science continue to develop, the future of traditional communities becomes increasingly uncertain wiithout the partial embrace of modernity. According to Kyle T. Mays:


"We should embrace what Anishinaabe scholar Scott Richard Lyons calls “indigenous modernity.” Lyons writes, “to embrace [indigenous] modernity is to usher in other modern concepts (not all of them necessarily, but some of them, and I’d say the ones we want), including the concept of decolonization”.

Exposure to the modern world can threaten those who wish to preserve their ancient way of life without adjustment. Even today, many jobs may require you to use a smartphone. However, the problem with contemporary technology is that it leads to isolation and thus to a greater reduction of social cohesion.


Traditionalists' passion for conservation may struggle to hold back the tide of modern-day technology, which constantly marches towards new discoveries and inventions. That is often done wihtout much consideration for local environment. After all, technology is made to be used by people worldwide, due to the fact that globalization allows the expansion of companies' target audience. As such, and will be discussed later, the expansion of profit is what allows the reduction of social cohesion within more-traditional communities, seeking to preserve their way of life.


Let's explore how advancements in science and technology, often associated with "western hegemony," have impacted, are impacting, and could further disrupt the preservation of these traditional societies.


Faith's Fate


Religion, with its shared belief in deities and supernatural forces, has long been the glue that binds communities together. For millennia, it has fostered cooperation and prosperity, though not always fairness, or even truth necessarily. However, the rise of scientific inquiry and experimentation is challenging some core religious principles.


Scientific discoveries have cast doubt on concepts like the literal existence of souls, reincarnation, a young Earth, or unchanging/unevolving species. This doubt, increased by technological advancements and by scientism, have led many to move away from creationism towards atheism or agnosticism. This growing secularism presents a threat to traditional societies built on religious foundations.


Consider the Jewish Haredim, a collection of highly religious sects. They fear that exposure to outside information and technology will erase their zeal and fracture their community, which is the expanse of their identity. This fear sometimes leads to self-imposed isolation and a rejection of what some religious folk in general may consider an "impure" world.


Education, Economics, and the Erosion of Tradition


The relentless march of progress demands a skilled workforce. In today's economic landscape, traditional communities face immense pressure to abandon their ways in pursuit of new forms of education and professionalism, mainly involved around the tech industries. Ever wondered, for example, why many indians work at tech support? It's because India has a large pool of skilled workers at a lower cost. That gives them an advantage over the western world as populations in third world countries are in greater need of job security


According to Lio.org:

As expected, the poorer developing economies of Asia and Africa head the list of countries with low levels of labour market security.

This is driven by the rapid irrelevance of old professions (like sword-making), replaced by more specialized, times-related roles. The mantra of "staying educated" becomes a necessity to survive in a globalized, ever-changing world. Comapanies have to spot trends if they don't want to become irrelevant in their industries.


And since going global is more profitable than staying local as a business, an even better way to be profitable is to spot global trends and market your products and services in accordance. This can and does lead to a global consumerist culture, where many people find common interest not through regional identity but through contemporary icons, from memes to popular culture. This distribution of product on a global scale, which creates a global audience, can also strengthen your brand, by allowing people to connect through greater accessibility to shared interests.


What connected people during the foundation of nationstates, like a shared ancestry and cultural art, has been largely replaced by games, movies, the English langauge and pop icons like the Joker.



Within the professional world, those lacking the necessary credentials may struggle to thrive. Traditional communities, often geographically isolated and lacking access to modern infrastructure, are particularly vulnerable. Poverty and limited opportunities within their current environment often force them to migrate to urban centers, exposing them to new ways of life.


Increased work hours and a rising expanse of living may require them to work more and be less available for socializing or to spend time with their families.


This, of course, presents a challenge to the preservation of traditions. Advancement necessitates change, and the lure of economic stability can pull individuals away from their cultural roots. The Industrial Revolution offers a historical example. As factories boomed in the late 19th century, many men left their communities to earn a living in big cities, sacrificing traditional life to support families back home.


The Allure of Modernity: Social Disparity and the Future of Tradition


Traditional communities, despite garnering respect for their customs, often face significant socioeconomic challenges. Compared to the general population, they may experience higher rates of poverty. Poverty often leads to higher rates of crime. Limited access to education and technology further disadvantages them. These socio-economic disparities can be grim – more education, security, and wealth are concentrated within mainstream society.


Growing in a poor neighborhood myself, I often stood in a remarkable contrast compared to the rest of local society merely because I'm an auto-didact, or a self-learner.


Most people are not autodidacts. In order to learn effectively, they need guidance provided by teachers. They need support provided by peers. And they need structure provided by institutions.

This harsh reality of not having proper guidance nor structure can create a powerful pull for younger generations, away from many opportunities. The allure of a better life, with greater opportunity and job security, may lead them to disassociate from traditional ways and embrace the dominant culture. That might be done merely to survive.


This can be seen in the case of the Aboriginal Australians, the native inhabitants of Australia before European colonization. The Aboriginals exemplify the struggles faced by many traditional communities. Lower educational attainment, poorer health outcomes, and limited economic prospects often plague these many groups.


However, advocating for complete urbanization and abandonment of tradition presents a false dichotomy. While doing so may help them integrate more into the wealthy Australian nation, there are ways to improve these communities while still respecting and preserving their cultural heritage.


Summary: Finding a Balance


The future of traditional societies lies in finding a balance. Can they embrace advancements that improve their lives without sacrificing their cultural identity? After all, culture has a role as well in human life. Technological innovations in communication could connect these communities with the wider world while allowing them to share their traditions. Educational opportunities that value their cultural knowledge could empower younger generations.



Advocating for pluralism could also help integrating such minorities without alienating them from the rest of society and vice versa.


The story of tradition in the modern world is not one of inevitable decline, but of adaptation. By embracing change strategically, these communities can ensure their survival and continue to enrich the tapestry of human experience.


The same applies in philosophy as well. Western philosophy may dominate discourse to this very day, but voices of more philosophers deserve to be heard, just like I attempt to do here in Philosocom through the preservation and enrichment of the Guest Posts category.


Ms. Tamara Moskal's Feedback:


Tradition is a double-aged weapon. It reinforces tribe mentality and belonging while setting us apart from other groups and their traditions.
People seek to belong because a community provides security, values, and mates.
A profound negative aspect of traditions is that they set us apart from others in a firm conviction that our traditions are correct and justified. Traditions, in that sense, lead to bias, superiority, and discrimination.
Also, traditions are rooted in spiritual beliefs and ancient wisdom, often outdated and twisted by time. It clashes with the modern world because its meaning lost its practical value and is merely emotional.
I see traditions as a reminiscence of a mysterious and mystic past that will eventually disappear, assuming the world will follow the path of innovation and not destruction.
I see the sacrifice of traditions as an inevitable step into total globalization, a new world where all humans belong to one secular tribe led by science and technology. I'm unsure if this will be a blissful reality, but it might be a step towards the following evolutionary change, and our species will adjust as we did before.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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