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Yasin Karadag

Instructor: Fatma Baser
Eng 101-06
May 6, 2001
Modern and Primitive Cultures
People have to have a relationship with other people and the nature.

It is necessary for the people. People who share a common place or a
common language also share a common culture.

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A professor is named Deikman said that “Culture is the customs, ideas, and
attitudes shared by a group, transmitted from generation by generation by
learning processes rather than biological inheritance; adherence to these
customs and attitudes is regulated by a system of rewards and punishments
peculiar to each culture.” (P. 159). Deikman said a group because every
people in the world is belongs to different societies. Their language,
their customs or their ideas are different from each other. According to
professor, Deikman culture is transmitted by environment rather than
heredity.For instance the people who live in South-East Asia solve their
problems by environmental solution (Widdicombe, p.159). In other words it
shows the importance of the environment for the people. The people believe
that the environment keeps their ideas or their soul. When they have a
complex problem they only must look the environment because solution is in
the environment. “Professor Deikman’s definition is simple but its
application can be complicated. There are many, many gradations of groups
constituting a culture and many degrees of differentiation within what
might be considered one cultural group” (Widdicombe, p. 159-161). Some
cultures in the world can be more contemporary. It is due to the time and
the place where people live. But generally we can talk about two kinds of
cultures. These are modern and primitive cultures. If we want to
understand what a primitive culture is, we have to look at history? “The
archaic cultures -the cultures of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and
Neolithic ages- are also referred to as primitive” ( In
addition, we can see some special feature of primitive cultures in the
modern age. For instance, the African people still live like their
primitive ancestors. They still live in the forest and wear old clothes,
which were worn by their ancestors. Modern cultures are cultures, which
have contemporary living conditions. In other words Europe and America are
two rich countries, which are modern cultures. The social and religious
and, economical lives of the primitive culture may seem more interesting
than the social, religious and economical lives of the modern cultures.

However if we investigate carefully we can find some similarities between
two cultures.

The social life of the primitive cultures was based on the family,
laws and classification. Father, mother and children constituted the
family. However in some primitive cultures, the mission of father and the
mission of mother were different. While father was staying at home and was
looking children mother went out and worked to earn money. Growing up the
children was due to the place where family live in. However generally
children grew up in their families. For example: “in most cases the Arab
children continued in the family way of life, whether they were shepherds,
farmers, merchants or whatever they might be. There was no caste system
nor were there different social classes, but no follow on with the family
occupation came naturally” (Glubb, p.10). This was for the children who
lived in the villages. “In towns, the boys went to day school and the
girls learned domestic duties in their families” (Glubb, p.11). In the
primitive Arab societies, family did not only mean father, mother and the
children, but also aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and more distant
connections and neighbors were members of the family. Members of the
primitive cultures determined laws. “They judged according to the
traditions, and, by such principles, ruled what action should be taken
against any law-breakers. As the Ainu had no means of writing, their whole
legal system was verbal” (Ed. Shah, p. 183). There were a lot of people
who had verbal laws like the Ainu people. Although laws were transmitted
orally laws did not change. Classification was the most important problem
of the primitive cultures. Because, every people did not have the same
justice.”Societies such as Bundu had females only as permanent members,
although men were allowed to watch them dance” (Ed. Shah, p. 53). Slaves
were not accepted to be a people. Moreover, in some societies, they were
seemed as an animal. If a slave had wanted to be a membership of the
society he or she would have paid a fee for Society membership. “Many of
fees were very high, reflect the society’s degree of exclusiveness” (Ed.

Shah, p. 54).

The religious life of the primitive cultures consisted of the rituals,
symbols and magic. Firstly the most important religious thing of the
primitive cultures was rituals. “Rituals were common and collective acts,
performed on a sequestered and consecrated site and aimed at the invocation
of preternatural entities” (Segy, p. 16). Some implements were used in
rituals. Mask was one of the implements. In Africa people used them in
special days to reach the God. Myths helped people to understand the
meanings of the masks and the rituals. In these special days a group of
believers came together and they began to dance. “These dances also
reaffirmed man’s relationship with the mythological supernatural powers
(spirits)” (Segy, p. 18). Symbols were very important for the primitive
people. The believed some symbols protected them from the devil and the
bad spirits.

The use of the symbols is explained like:
Symbols of invincibility are used, many of them mathematically strong,
symmetrical and simple. They are placedoutside the entrance to the
base and tattooed or painted onto the members during ceremonies, as
well as being etched on stones and other objects to be used in
ceremonies, thus asserting the magical presence. Some are drawn in a
particular way, such as the Kufong’s pyramid, which must be
constructed in the dirt using a stick held between the palms of both
hands (Ed. Shah, p. 59).

Magic was one the main parts of the primitive religious life. The
primitive people learned magic from their ancestors. But some of them knew
it very well. Other people respected them and they believed that the
magicians reached the god. The magicians could make rain, restore life and
get people better by using magic. Some people who live in Africa whose
still magic. A tourist was named Howard explain his adventure with these
African people:
Inao (fetishes) were stuck in the ground all around the fire, and
following their intimations, while they stood back in great alarm, I
threw my poor Kodak, my pictures, all my apparatus, on the fire, and
stood calmly looking on till nothing was left of them but ashes (Ed.

Shah, p. 192)
The economical life of the primitive people was simple. It was due to
the nature. The nature gave them what they want and what the need. Some
primitive people knew hunting such as African people. Some of them prefer
to grow plants. They used oxen to plow.Many primitive people ate
another human. In other words, they were cannibal. It can be frightening
but they had a lot of reasons why they ate human. They thought that when
they ate a man their virility would increase.

Economical situations and relationships are the main parts of the
social structure of the modern cultures. The family is important. But
generally fathers have more than rights than mother because of the social
structure. Moreover in some countries such as America or England women do
more works than men. For example some women work as a driver. In the
modern societies every people has a status. It is generally due to
peoples’ occupations. It is essential to the evolution of culture.

The religious life of modern cultures consists of the holy books.

The holy books are Koran, Bible and Talmud. Koran is the holy book of the
Muslims.Bible and Talmud are the holy books of the Christians and the
Jews. Most of the modern people are Christian. However, some people do
not believe the god, the hell, the heaven and the destiny. This belief is
named atheism.

The economical life of the modern cultures have begun to change
after The Industry Revolution. Two economic system rose in 1912. One of
them is capitalism. Capitalism means if a people have money or own a
company the control is under him. It is for the ownership of capital
goods. Second economical system is socialism. America is one of the
capitalist countries.Socialism is a system or condition of society in
which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. In
the world some countries such as China are socialist. In both systems the
accumulation of money is important to modern people. They live in fear of
losing money. Moreover, they spend too much money for unnecessary things.

“For instance, sunglasses basically provide the instrumental function of
protecting one’s eyes, but they also may be decorative or even terribly
expensive, thereby displaying conspicuous consumption” (Kaiser, p. 95)
There are some similarities between modern and primitive cultures.

For example family is important for both cultures, because the people see
family essential for social structure. They believe that if a family life
is strong the social structure will be strong.There are some similar
punishments to prevent crime. For example, execution is present in both

If we want to compare modern and primitive cultures we have to think
carefully. A writer explained the difference between two cultures:
It may be doubted whether the modern civilized individual differs
greatly regards inherited capacities from his ancestors of the Stone
Age; the difference between savagedom and civilization is not organic
but cultural. The increase in our knowledge of ancient types of man
has, in some respects, accentuated rather than attenuated the
abruptness of the transition from animality to humanity; the oldest
human remains and the tools associated with them indicate a brain
capacity which is not markedly, if it all, inferior to that of
existing races (Custance, p. 135).

According to the writer, the difference between modern and primitive
people is only culture. Primitive man was as clever as modern men. They
hunted animals for a livelihood. They wanted to take from the nature what
they need. However, modern people cannot think like that. Modern man cut
trees to found companies and to earn more money. He wants too much every
time. One day, his ambition will bring his end because he damages the
nature and the world. Money is a goal for him. A primitive man said, “
Money is like dirt on your hands. One day it is there and the next day it
is gone” (Ed. Shah, p. 8).This was the world view of the modern

To sum up, the last 200 years the world has changed too much. Two
world wars happened.

More than 30 million people were died because of these wars. Every people
saw how modern man was cruel. I think that primitive man saw it and he was
afraid of the world of modern people, because his world was based on the


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