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Religion, Culture and Cultural Modernization

2015-09-23  

 

Chuanqi HE

China Center for Modernization Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Beijing 100190, P. R. China

Email: hechuanqi@263.net

 

Abstract

So far there is no general consensus on the definition of religion, culture and cultural modernization. And here religion has been regards as a socio-cultural phenomenon and refers to an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules which used to worship God or the supernatural power; culture refers to the complex of knowledge, institution and ideas that can impacts and explains human lifestyles, and cultural modernization is an expression of the modernization phenomenon in the cultural sphere. Modernization has been a worldwide phenomenon and a profound change of human civilizations since the 18th century. It includes not only the great change and transformation from traditional to modern politics, economy, society and culture, but also all human development and the rational protection of the natural environment at present, and meanwhile cultural diversity and religions exist across space and time. This paper discusses the definitions, changes and relationships of religion, culture and modernization from a Chinese perspective.

Key words: religion, culture, modernization, relationship, china

Religion has been part of culture, while culture varies among nations and countries. In the process of world modernization, what happen for religions and cultures? Does secularization takes place anywhere? Does tradition disappear and modern cultures divided from traditional cultures totally? Religion, culture and modernization are the hot issues in today’s China. This paper discusses their definitions, changes and relationships from a Chinese perspective.

1. The interpretations of religion, culture and modernization

There are so many references on the studies of religion, culture and modernization, and you can’t finish the job to read all of them in your whole life (table 1). For example, you need more than 84 years to read the 8431 books in LOC at reading-speed 100 books per year. And so far there is no general consensus on the definition of religion, culture and modernization. Here after a Chinese interpretation on them will be presented.

Table 1 Books and papers on religion, culture and modernization

Item

Number of books and papers

How many years to read them

Religion

Culture

Modernization

Total

Read per year

Years we need

Books in Library of Congress(LOC), USA

3,394 (AOL)

100,583 (All)

4,370 (AOL)

116,545 (All)

667 (AOL)

4,339 (All)

8,431

221,467

100

1,000

84

221

Books in National Library of China(NLC)

4,800

55,000

4,900

64,700

300

216

Papers in the Web of Science (WOS/SCI)

21,166

166,703

5,761

24,600

300

82

Note: Searching of the LOC, NLC books: by book title, up to 4 July 2014. Searching of the WOS articles: by title, up to 7 July 2014. AOL refers to available on line.

 

1.1 What is religion?

The religion emerged about in Paleolithic period and sustained to today. At present, there are more than 100 thousands books in LOC and 21 thousands articles in WOS on the study of religion (Table 1). Some scholars had made the deep analysis of religion, such as Tylor (1871), Muller (1878), Weber (1904), Smith (1958) and Yinger (1970) and so on.

Religion has been regards as a socio-cultural phenomenon since 19th century. It refers to an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies and rules. It was used to worship God or the supernatural power. Generally, religion is a complex system which includes the belief and worship, rules, ceremonies and knowledge (Figure 1). In this system, the ceremonies and knowledge are its basis, the rules are its core, and the beliefs and worship are its soul.

Figure 1 Structure of religion

 

Religions can be classified as circumcising and non-circumcising, proselytizing (attempting to convert people of other religion) and non-proselytizing, polytheism and monotheism, etc.

1.2 What is culture?

The history of culture is as long as humankind history. Update, there are more than 116 thousands books in LOC and 166 thousands articles in WOS on the study of culture (Table 1). Some of them are very good job with long effects, such as Tylor (1871), Morgan (1877), Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952), Williams (1958), Habermas (1987), Hassan (1987), UNESCO (1998, 2000), Haviland (2000), Inglehart and Welzel (2005) etc.

The culture is a complex of the knowledge, institutions and ideas, it impacts and explains human lifestyles, as well as human’s pursuit and expression of truth, goodness and beauty.

Cultural complex is an organic whole (Figure 2), and in which, knowledge is the basis of culture, institution is the core of culture, idea is the soul of culture, but this is changeable.

Figure 2 Structure of culture

 

 

Cultural intension is a complex of knowledge, systems and ideas that affects and explains human behaviors. Cultural extension includes language, literature, art, philosophy, religion, law, ethics, conventions, scientific knowledge, cultural facilities, cultural industries, political culture, economic culture, social culture, environmental culture and culture of individual behaviors.

Cultural diversity exists across the time and space. There are about 5,000 to 10,000 languages used in the world at present, and each of them reflects a view of the world, a different mode of thinking and culture (UNESCO, 2000).

1.3 What is modernization?

In English, word “modernization” appeared approximately in the 18th century, and it came from word “modern” (Table 2). The Industrial Revolution in Britain and the French Revolution in the 18th century can be seen as the starting point of the world modernization. In the second half of the 20th century, modernization studies underwent three waves (He, 2003), i.e., the classic modernization studies, the post-modernization studies, and the new modernization studies (Figure 3), and different schools have different understanding of the modernization. Up to now, there are more than 4 thousands books in LOC and 5 thousands articles in WOS on the study of modernization (Table 1). Some of them are excellent such as Parson (1951), Lerner (1958), Rostow (1960), Bell (1973), Black (1976), Inglehart (1997), Tiryakian (1991), Beck, Giddens and Lash (1994), Eisenstadt (2003), Martinelli (2005) and He (2012) and so on.

Table 2 Basic meaning of “modernization” in English

Item

Modern

Modernize

Modernization

Basic Meaning

Adj. Date: 1585

1: relating to, or characteristic of the present or the immediate past

2: of, or relating to the period from approx. 1500 A.D. to the present

Verb. Date: 1748

1: to make or become modern

2: make suitable for present-day needs

Noun. Date: 1770

1: the act of modernizing: the state of being modernized

2: something modernized: a modernized version

Remark

Nature: latest (newest) in whatever fields

Time: have initiated point but no end

Being modernized (or becoming modern), satisfying the present needs

A kind of act (a process)

A kind of state

Note: The meanings of three words come from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3 Three waves of modernization studies in the 20th century

 

Modernization is a profound change of human civilizations since 18th century. It includes not only the great change and transformation from traditional to modern politics, economy, society and culture, but also all human development and the rational protection of the natural environment at present, meanwhile cultural diversity and religion exists across space and time.

Modernization is a process which includes civilization’s development, civilization’s transformation and international competition (Figure 4). It is a worldwide phenomenon with the exceptions of some communities. Cultural modernization is part of modernization, and the modernization of cultural field.

  

Figure 4 Structure of modernization

 

 

2. The changes of religion, culture and modernization update

No change except change forever. Here we can outline some changes of them.

2.1 The changes of religion

The content and function of religion has changed from time to time. In general, religion evolutes from simple to complex, from extempore to organized. It includes the changes of beliefs, worship, rules, ceremonies and knowledge of religion (Table 3).

Table 3 Evolution of religion content (In some case)

Content

Primitive society

Agricultural society

Industrial society

Knowledge society

Beliefs, worship

Supernatural power

God, Idea, Others

God, Idea, Others

God, Idea

Rules

Simple

System, tight, strict

Flexible, loose

Openness, volunteer

Ceremonies, Knowledge

Simple

Organized

Simple, system

Symbolized

 

Religion often shaped civilizations' law, moral, ethics, social structure, art and music etc. The general function of religion includes many aspects, such as to confront and explain death, to relieve fears, to easy the stress, to promote social homogeneity and solidarity, to provide identity and charity, and avoid to do bed things, etc. The cultural, social, political and economic function of religion has changed from primitive society to knowledge society (Table 4).

Table 4 Evolution of religion function (In some case)

Function

Primitive society

Agricultural society

Industrial society

Knowledge society

Cultural

Tribal Spirit

Spirit Kingdom

Spirit Community

Spirit Park

Social

Education, peace

Protection, peace, identity

Protection, assistant, link

Protection, assistant, link

Political

Tribal Union

Authority, control, fight

Secularization, for election

Socialization, for election

Economic

-

Tax

donation

Cultural tour

 

2.2 The changes of culture

The content of culture has changed also. For example, culture changed from simple to complex, from traditional to modern etc, and this change is non-linear, multi-routes. We can see the changes of ideas, institutions and knowledge of culture in the past (Table 5).

 

 

 

Table 5 Cultural change (In some case)

Content

Primitive society

Agricultural society

Industrial society

Knowledge society

Ideas

Primitive idea

Tradition, God

Modernism, science, secular etc.

Post-modernism,

networking, etc.

Institutions

Simple

Feudalism, religion

Democracy, rationalism

Globalization,

democracy

Knowledge

Simple

Organized, traditional science

System complex, modern science and technology

Digital complex

 

2.3 The changes of modernization

The content of modernization has changed since 18th century. The process of world modernization from the 18th to the 21st century can be divided into two stages generally (Figure 5). The first modernization includes the changes and transformation from agricultural to industrial economy and society, and the second modernization includes the changes and transformation from industrial to knowledge economy and society etc (He, 1999). So far the first stage has been regarded as the classical modernization usually (Harrison, 1988; So, 1990), and the second stage is the new one with some alternative interpretations such as post, continual or reflexive modernization and so on (Inglehart, 1997; Zapf ,1991; Beck, Giddens, Lash,1994).

 

Figure 5 Two stages of modernization process from 18th to 21st century

 

Cultural modernization includes two turns of cultural changes, one is the transformation from traditional to modern culture, and other is the transformation from modern to post modern culture (Figure 6), and culture diversity exist forever.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 6 Cultural modernization is the turn of cultural change

 

3. The relationship among religion, culture and modernization

The relationship among them overlaps in some way, and differs from each other also.

3.1 Religion versus culture

Religion is part of culture, and religious change is part of cultural changes.

There is interaction between then. Religion impacts culture in one side, such as ideas, music, art, construction, lifestyle, identity, ethics, moral, soul, etc. Culture impacts religion in other side, such as beliefs, rules, knowledge, activities, science, technology, rationalism, etc.

3.2 Religion versus modernization

Modern religious change is part of modernization and cultural modernization.

Interaction between religion and modernization differs from countries and nations. Religion affects modernization in three ways: (1) positive effect such as Protestant in Europe; (2) negative effect such as Amish in USA; (3) neutral effect in some Asia regions. Modernization influences religion also, such as belief freedom and religion diversity, secularization took place in some countries etc.

There is the interaction between religion and cultural modernization. Religion impacts cultural modernization in some aspects including the route and model of cultural modernization. Cultural modernization impacts the changes of religion in some content.

Here are some facts in the process of cultural modernization. (1) Religion exits across the time (Table 6). (2) Religion changes continually (Table 3). (3) Religious function changes time to time (Table 4), such as from Spirit Kingdom in agricultural society to Spirit Community in industrial society, and then to Spirit Park in knowledge society. (4) Secularization took place in the some countries (Table 7), mainly in developed countries and some developing countries.

 

Table 6 Changes of religion people in the world (%)

Religion

1900

1970

1980

1993

2000

Christians

34.4

33.7

32.8

33.5

33.0

Muslins

12.4

15.3

16.8

18.2

19.6

India religion

12.5

12.8

13.3

13.5

13.4

Buddhists

7.8

6.4

6.3

6.0

5.9

China religion

23.5

5.9

4.5

2.5

6.4

Tribal religion

6.6

2.4

2.1

1.8

3.8

others

2.6

3.9

3.3

3.8

2.7

total

99.8

81.4

79.1

79.3

84.8

Non-religious

0.2

15

16.4

16.4

12.7

Atheist

0.0

4.6

4.5

4.3

2.5

Source: Huntingdon, 1996; Giddens, 2006; ARDA, 2008.

 

Table 7 Changes of religion people in some countries (%)

Nations

1981/82

1990/91

1995/97

1999/2001

USA

93.8

77.3

79

78.5

UK

90.7

57.8

n.a.

83.1

France

73.8

61.5

n.a.

57.5

Germany

n.a.

69.4

51.2

60.4

Italy

93.6

85.2

n.a.

82.2

Japan

96.3

33.3

34.7

44.4

Russia

n.a.

34.2

54.4

50.5

Mexico

n.a.

84.8

78.4

80.6

China

n.a.

3.2

n.a.

6.1

India

n.a.

98.9

96.6

93.3

Source: ARDA, 2008.

 

3.3 Culture versus modernization

Modern cultural change is part of cultural modernization and modernization.

Culture impacts modernization in three ways: (1) positive effect such as science & technology knowledge; (2) negative effect such as feudalism; (3) neutral effects such as languages and arts etc. Culture affects modernization in some aspects such as the dynamics, diversity, multiple modernities, etc. Modernization affects culture also such as modernism, post-modernism, secularization, rationalism, etc.

There is interaction between culture and cultural modernization. Culture impacts cultural modernization in many aspects such as the route and model of cultural modernization. Cultural modernization affects culture in some way such as cultural changes, urban and network culture,          secularization, rationalism, education, etc.

Modern culture comes from three resource in the process of cultural modernization (Figure 7) , and tradition exits across space & time, such as classical music, arts etc.

 

 

Figure 7 Formation of modern culture

 

4. Summary

There is no consensus on the definition of religion, culture and modernization, and there are some intersection and interaction among them (Figure 8). Generally, religion refers to an organized system of beliefs, rules, ceremonies and knowledge which used to worship God or the supernatural power; culture refers to the complex of knowledge, institution and ideas that can impact and explain human lifestyles, modernization is a profound change of human civilizations since 18th century which includes not only the great change and transformation from traditional to modern politics, economy, society and culture, but also all human development and the rational protection of the natural environment at present, meanwhile religion, tradition and cultural diversity exit worldwide. Secularization took place in some countries since 20th century. Religion roles change from Spirit Kingdom to Spirit Community, and then to Spirit Park since agricultural society in some content.

 

Figure 8 Relationship among three concepts

 

 

Reference

 

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