Tradition
Overview
 
A tradition is a ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, belief
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

 or object passed down within a society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holiday
Holiday
A Holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observance is warranted. It is generally an official or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations...

s or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyer wig
Wig
A wig is a head of hair made from horsehair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or synthetic materials which is worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. The word wig is short for periwig and first...

s or military officer spur
Spur
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding. It is usually used to refine the riding aids and to back up the natural aids . The spur is used in every equestrian discipline...

s), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word "tradition" itself derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 tradere or traderer literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping—and new traditions continue to appear today.
Encyclopedia
A tradition is a ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, belief
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

 or object passed down within a society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holiday
Holiday
A Holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observance is warranted. It is generally an official or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations...

s or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyer wig
Wig
A wig is a head of hair made from horsehair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or synthetic materials which is worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. The word wig is short for periwig and first...

s or military officer spur
Spur
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding. It is usually used to refine the riding aids and to back up the natural aids . The spur is used in every equestrian discipline...

s), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word "tradition" itself derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 tradere or traderer literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping—and new traditions continue to appear today. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time. Certain scholarly fields, such as anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, have adapted the term "tradition," defining it more carefully than its conventional use in order to facilitate scholarly discourse.

The concept of tradition, as the notion of holding on to a previous time, is also found in political and philosophical discourse. For example, the political concept of traditionalism
Traditionalist Conservatism
Traditionalist conservatism, also known as "traditional conservatism," "traditionalism," "Burkean conservatism", "classical conservatism" and , "Toryism", describes a political philosophy emphasizing the need for the principles of natural law and transcendent moral order, tradition, hierarchy and...

 is based around it, as are strands of many world religions
Traditionalism (religion)
Traditionalism in religious contexts can refer to traditional, orthodox doctrines.In the Roman Catholic Church, traditionalism is the doctrine that Sacred Tradition holds equal authority to Holy Scripture. In the Orthodox Church, scripture is considered to be the core constituent of a larger...

 including traditional Catholicism. In artistic contexts, tradition is used to decide the correct display of an art form. For example, in the performance of traditional genres (such as traditional dance), adherence to guidelines dictating how an art form should be composed are given greater importance than the performer's own preferences. A number of factors can exacerbate the loss of tradition, including industrialization, globalization, and the assimilation or marginalization of specific cultural groups. In response to this, tradition-preservation attempts have now been started in many countries around the world, focusing on aspects such as traditional languages. Tradition is usually contrasted with the goal of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 and should be differentiated from customs, conventions, laws, norms, routines, rules and similar concepts.

Definition of tradition

The English word "tradition" comes from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 traditio, the noun from the verb traderere or tradere (to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping); it was originally used in Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 to refer to the concept of legal transfers and inheritance
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

. According to Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

 and others, the modern meaning of tradition can be seen as having evolved in the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an discourse in the last two hundred years, during the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 period, as philosophers and thinkers counter posed the concept of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 with the concept of tradition, in the context of progress
Progress (history)
In historiography and the philosophy of history, progress is the idea that the world can become increasingly better in terms of science, technology, modernization, liberty, democracy, quality of life, etc...

.

As with many other generic terms, there are many definitions of tradition. The concept includes a number of interrelated ideas; the unifying one is that tradition refers to beliefs, objects or customs performed or believed in in the past, originating in it, transmitted through time by being taught by one generation to the next, and are performed or believed in the present.

Tradition can also refer to beliefs or customs that are Prehistoric
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

, with lost or arcane origins, existing from time immemorial
Time immemorial
Time immemorial is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition, indefinitely ancient, "ancient beyond memory or record"...

. Originally, traditions were passed orally, without the need for a writing system
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

. Tools to aid this process include poetic devices
Figures of Speech
Figures of Speech is a hip hop group consisting of MCs Eve and Jyant. They performed at the Good Life Cafe in the early 1990s and were featured on the Project Blowed compilation....

 such as rhyme
Rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

 and alliteration
Alliteration
In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as tradition, or as part of an oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

. Even such traditions, however, are presumed to have originated (been "invented" by humans) at some point. Traditions are often presumed to be ancient, unalterable, and deeply important, though they may sometimes be much less "natural" than is presumed. It is presumed that at least two transmissions over three generation
Generation
Generation , also known as procreation in biological sciences, is the act of producing offspring....

s are required for a practice, belief or object to be seen as traditional. Some traditions were deliberately invented for one reason or another, often to highlight or enhance the importance of a certain institution. Traditions may also be adapted to suit the needs of the day, and the changes can become accepted as a part of the ancient tradition. Tradition changes slowly, with changes from one generation to the next not being seen as significant. Thus, those carrying out the traditions will not be consciously aware of the change, and even if a tradition undergoes major changes over many generations, it will be seen as unchanged.

There are various origins and fields of tradition; they can refer to:
  1. the forms of artistic heritage of a particular culture.
  2. beliefs or customs instituted and maintained by societies and governments, such as national anthem
    National anthem
    A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

    s and national holidays
    Public holiday
    A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year....

    , such as Federal holidays in the United States.
  3. beliefs or customs maintained by religious denomination
    Religious denomination
    A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

    s and church bodies
    Local church
    A local church is a Christian congregation of members and clergy.Local church may also refer to:* Local churches , a Christian group based on the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, and associated with the Living Stream Ministry publishing house.* Parish church, a local church united with...

     that share history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. For example, one can speak of Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

    's tradition or Christianity's tradition (see also traditionalism (religion)
    Traditionalism (religion)
    Traditionalism in religious contexts can refer to traditional, orthodox doctrines.In the Roman Catholic Church, traditionalism is the doctrine that Sacred Tradition holds equal authority to Holy Scripture. In the Orthodox Church, scripture is considered to be the core constituent of a larger...

    ).


Many objects, beliefs and customs can be traditional. Rituals of social interaction can be traditional, with phrases and gestures such as saying "thank you", sending birth announcements, greeting card
Greeting card
A greeting card is an illustrated, folded card featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment. Although greeting cards are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, they are also sent to convey thanks or express other feeling. Greeting cards,...

s, etc. Tradition can also refer to larger concepts practiced by groups (family traditions at Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

), organizations (company's picnic
Picnic
In contemporary usage, a picnic can be defined simply as a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors , ideally taking place in a beautiful landscape such as a park, beside a lake or with an interesting view and possibly at a public event such as before an open air theatre performance,...

) or societies, such as the practice of national and public holidays. Some of the oldest traditions include monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 (three millennia) and citizenship
Citizenship
Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities...

 (two millennia). It can also included material objects, such as buildings, works of art or tools.

Tradition is often used as an adjective
Adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

, in contexts such as traditional music
Traditional music
Traditional music is the term increasingly used for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article...

, traditional medicine
Traditional medicine
Traditional medicine comprises unscientific knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine...

, traditional values
Traditional values
Traditional values refer to those beliefs, moral codes, and mores that are passed down from generation to generation within a culture, subculture or community.-Summary:Since the late 1970s in the U.S., the term "traditional values" has become synonymous...

 and others. In such constructions tradition refers to specific values and materials particular to the discussed context, passed through generations.

Invention of tradition

The term "invention of tradition
Invented traditions
Invented Traditions is a concept made prominent in a 1983 book edited by E. J. Hobsbawm and T. O. Ranger, The Invention of Tradition In their Introduction the editors argue that many "traditions" which "appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin and sometimes invented." They...

", introduced by E. J. Hobsbawm, refers to situations when a new practice or object is introduced in a manner that implies a connection with the past that is not necessarily present. A tradition may be deliberately created and promulgated for personal, commercial, political, or national self-interest, as was done in colonial Africa; or it may be adopted rapidly based on a single highly publicized event, rather than developing and spreading organically in a population, as in the case of the white wedding dress
Wedding dress
A wedding dress or wedding gown is the clothing worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. Color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown can depend on the religion and culture of the wedding participants.- Western culture :...

, which only became popular after Queen Victoria wore a white gown at her wedding to Albert of Saxe-Coburg.

An example of an invention of tradition is the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 (location of the British Parliament) in the Gothic style. Similarly, most of the traditions associated with monarchy of the United Kingdom
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

, seen as rooted deep in history, actually date to 19th century. Other examples include the invention of tradition in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and other colonial
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 holdings by the occupying forces. Requiring legitimacy, the colonial power would often invent a "tradition" which they could use to legitimize their own position. For example, a certain succession to a chiefdom might be recognized by a colonial power as traditional in order to favour their own candidates for the job. Often these inventions were based in some form of tradition, but were exaggerated, distorted, or biased toward a particular interpretation.

Invented traditions are a central component of modern national culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, providing a commonality of experience and promoting the unified national identity espoused by nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

. Common examples include public holiday
Public holiday
A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year....

s (particularly those unique to a particular nation), the singing of national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

s, and traditional national cuisine (see national dish
National dish
A national dish is a dish, food or a drink that is considered to represent a particular country, nation or region.A dish can become a national dish for a variety of reasons. It can be the national dish because it is a staple daily food for the majority of the population. It can also be the national...

). Expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

 and immigrant communities may continue to practice the national traditions of their home nation.

In scholarly discourse

In science, tradition is often used in the literature in order to define the relationship of an author's thoughts to that of his or her field. In 1948, philosopher of science Karl Popper suggested that there should be a "rational theory of tradition" applied to science which was fundamentally sociological. For Popper, each scientist who embarks on a certain research trend inherits the tradition of the scientists before them as he or she inherits their studies and any conclusions that superseded it. Unlike myth, which is a means of explaining the natural world through means other than logical criticism, scientific tradition was inherited from Socrates, who proposed critical discussion, according to Popper. For Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American historian and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was deeply influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term "paradigm shift," which has since become an English-language staple.Kuhn...

, who presented his thoughts in a paper presented in 1977, a sense of such a critical inheritance of tradition is, historically, what sets apart the best scientists who change their fields is an embrasure of tradition.

Traditions are a subject of study in several academic fields in social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

—chiefly anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, archeology, and biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

—with somewhat different meanings in different fields. It is also used in varying contexts in other fields, such as history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

. Social scientists and others have worked to refine the commonsense concept of tradition to make it into a useful concept for scholarly analysis. In the 1970s and 1980s, Edward Shils
Edward Shils
Edward Shils was a Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and in Sociology at the University of Chicago and reputedly an influential sociologist. He was known for his research on the role of intellectuals and their relations to power and public policy...

 explored the concept in detail. Since then, a wide variety of social scientists have criticized traditional ideas about tradition; meanwhile, "tradition" has come into usage in biology as applied to nonhuman animals.

Tradition as a concept variously defined in different disciplines should not be confused with various traditions (perspectives, approaches) in those disciplines.

Anthropology

Tradition is one of the key concepts in anthropology; it can be said that anthropology is the study of "tradition in traditional societies". There is however no "theory of tradition", as for most anthropologists the need to discuss what tradition is seems unnecessary, as defining tradition is both unnecessary (everyone can be expected to know what it is) and unimportant (as small differences in definition would be just technical). There are however dissenting views, as some scholars like Pascal Boyer
Pascal Boyer
Pascal Boyer is a French anthropologist, and Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis.He is a Guggenheim Fellow.-Work:...

 argue that defining tradition and developing theories based around it is of importance to the discipline.

Archaeology

In archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, the term tradition is a set of cultures
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

 or industries
Archaeological industry
An archaeological industry, normally just "industry", is the name given in the study of prehistory to a consistent range of assemblages connected with a single product, such as the Langdale axe industry...

 which appear to develop on from one another over a period of time. The term is especially common in the study of American archaeology.

Biology

Biologists, when examining groups of non-humans, have observed repeated behaviors which are taught within communities from one generation to the next. Tradition, defined in biology as "a behavioral practice that is relatively enduring (i.e., is performed repeatedly over a period of time), that is shared among two or more members of a group, that depends in part on socially aided learning for its generation in new practitioners", has been called a precursor to "culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

" in the anthropological sense.

Behavioral traditions have been observed in groups of fish, birds, and mammals. Groups of orangutans and chimpanzees, in particular, may display large numbers of behavioral traditions, and in chimpanzees, transfer of traditional behavior from one group to another (not just within a group) has been observed. Such behavioral traditions may have evolutionary significance, allowing adaptation at a faster rate than genetic change.

Musicology/Ethnomusicology

In the field of musicology
Musicology
Musicology is the scholarly study of music. The word is used in narrow, broad and intermediate senses. In the narrow sense, musicology is confined to the music history of Western culture...

 and ethnomusicology
Ethnomusicology
Ethnomusicology is defined as "the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts."Coined by the musician Jaap Kunst from the Greek words ἔθνος ethnos and μουσική mousike , it is often considered the anthropology or ethnography of music...

 tradition refers to the belief systems, repertoire, techniques, style and culture that is passed down through subsequent generations. Tradition in music suggests a historical context with which one can perceive distinguishable patterns. Along with a sense of history, traditions have a fluidity that cause them to evolve and adapt over time.
While both musicology and ethnomusicology are defined by being 'the scholarly study of music' they differ in their methodology and subject of research. 'Tradition, or traditions, can be presented as a context in which to study the work of a specific composer or as a part of a wide-ranging historical perspective.'

Sociology

The concept of tradition, in early sociological research (around the turn of the 19th and 20th century), referred to that of the traditional society
Traditional society
In sociology, traditional society refers to a society characterized by lack of distinction between family and business, division of labor influenced primarily by age, gender, and status, high position of custom in the system of values, self-sufficiency, preference to saving and accumulation of...

, as contrasted by the more modern industrial society
Industrial society
In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the west in the period of time following the Industrial Revolution, and replaced...

. This approach was most notably portrayed in Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

's concepts of traditional authority
Traditional authority
Traditional authority is a form of leadership in which the authority of an organization or a ruling regime is largely tied to tradition or custom...

 and modern rational-legal authority
Rational-legal authority
Rational-legal authority is a form of leadership in which the authority of an organization or a ruling regime is largely tied to legal rationality, legal legitimacy and bureaucracy...

. In more modern works, One hundred years later, sociology sees tradition as a social construct used to contrast past with the present and as a form of rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 used to justify certain course of action.

Traditional society is characterized by lack of distinction between family and business, division of labor influenced primarily by age, gender, and status, high position of custom in the system of values, self-sufficiency, preference to saving and accumulation of capital instead of productive investment, relative autarky
Autarky
Autarky is the quality of being self-sufficient. Usually the term is applied to political states or their economic policies. Autarky exists whenever an entity can survive or continue its activities without external assistance. Autarky is not necessarily economic. For example, a military autarky...

. Early theories positing the simple, unilineal evolution
Unilineal evolution
Unilineal evolution is a 19th century social theory about the evolution of societies and cultures. It was composed of many competing theories by various sociologists and anthropologists, who believed that Western culture is the contemporary pinnacle of social evolution...

 of societies from traditional to industrial model are now seen as too simplistic.

In 1981 Edward Shils
Edward Shils
Edward Shils was a Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and in Sociology at the University of Chicago and reputedly an influential sociologist. He was known for his research on the role of intellectuals and their relations to power and public policy...

 in his book Tradition put forward a definition of tradition that became universally accepted. According to Shils, tradition is anything which is transmitted or handed down from the past to the present.

Another important sociological aspect of tradition is the one that relates to rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

. It is also related to the works of Max Weber (see theories of rationality), and were popularized and redefined in 1992 by Raymond Boudon
Raymond Boudon
Raymond Boudon is a French sociologist.He is a Professor in the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and is a member of many important institutions: Académie des Sciences morales et politiques, Academia Europaea, British Academy, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, International Academy of Human...

 in his book Action. In this context tradition refers to the mode of thinking and action justified as "it has always been that way". This line of reasoning forms the basis of the logical flaw of the appeal to tradition
Appeal to tradition
Appeal to tradition is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition...

 (or argumentum ad antiquitatem), which takes the form "this is right because we've always done it this way." In most cases such an appeal can be refuted on the grounds that the "tradition" being advocated may no longer be desirable, or, indeed, may never have been despite its previous popularity.

In political and religious discourse

The concepts of tradition and traditional values
Traditional values
Traditional values refer to those beliefs, moral codes, and mores that are passed down from generation to generation within a culture, subculture or community.-Summary:Since the late 1970s in the U.S., the term "traditional values" has become synonymous...

 are frequently used in political and religious discourse to establish the legitimacy of a particular set of values. In the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the concept of tradition has been used to argue for the centrality and legitimacy of conservative religious values. Similarly, strands of orthodox theological thought from a number of world religions openly identify themselves as wanting a return to tradition. For example, the term "traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholics are Roman Catholics who believe that there should be a restoration of many or all of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council...

" refers to those, such as Archbishop Lefebvre
Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel François Marie Joseph Lefebvre was a French Roman Catholic archbishop. Following a career as an Apostolic Delegate for West Africa and Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, he took the lead in opposing the changes within the Church associated with the Second Vatican Council.In 1970,...

, who want the worship and practices of the church to be as they were before the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 of 1962–65. Likewise, Sunni Muslims
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 are referred to as Ahlus Sunnah wa Al-Jamā‘ah , literally "people of the tradition [of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

] and the community", emphasizing their attachment to religious and cultural tradition.

More generally, tradition has been used as a way of determining the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

, with right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 parties having a stronger affinity to the ways of the past than left-wing
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 ones. Here, the concept of adherence tradition is embodied by the political philosophy of traditionalist conservatism
Traditionalist Conservatism
Traditionalist conservatism, also known as "traditional conservatism," "traditionalism," "Burkean conservatism", "classical conservatism" and , "Toryism", describes a political philosophy emphasizing the need for the principles of natural law and transcendent moral order, tradition, hierarchy and...

 (or simply traditionalism), which emphasizes the need for the principles of natural law
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

 and transcendent moral order, hierarchy
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

 and organic unity
Organic unity
Organic Unity is the idea that a thing is made up of interdependent parts. For example, a body is made up of its constituent organs, or a society is made up of its constituent social roles....

, agrarianism
Agrarianism
Agrarianism has two common meanings. The first meaning refers to a social philosophy or political philosophy which values rural society as superior to urban society, the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker, and sees farming as a way of life that can shape the ideal social values...

, classicism
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 and high culture
High culture
High culture is a term, now used in a number of different ways in academic discourse, whose most common meaning is the set of cultural products, mainly in the arts, held in the highest esteem by a culture...

, and the intersecting spheres of loyalty. Traditionalists would therefore reject the notions of individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

, liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

, modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, and social progress
Social progress
Social progress is the idea that societies can or do improve in terms of their social, political, and economic structures. This may happen as a result of direct human action, as in social enterprise or through social activism, or as a natural part of sociocultural evolution...

, but promote cultural and educational renewal, and revive interest in the church, the family, the state and local community. This view has been criticised for including in its notion of tradition practices which are no longer considered to be desirable, for example, stereotypical views of the place of women in domestic affairs
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

.

In other societies, especially ones experiencing rapid social change, the idea of what is "traditional" may be widely contested, with different groups striving to establish their own values as the legitimate traditional ones. Defining and enacting traditions in some cases can be a means of building unity between subgroups in a diverse society; in other cases, tradition is a means of othering and keeping groups distinct from one another.

In artistic discourse

In artistic contexts, in the performance of traditional genres (such as traditional dance), adherence to traditional guidelines is of greater importance than performer's preferences. It is often the unchanging form of certain arts that leads to their perception as traditional. For artistic endeavors, tradition has been used as a contrast to creativity
Creativity
Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

, with traditional and folk art
Folk art
Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic....

 associated with unoriginal imitation or repetition, in contrast to fine art
Fine art
Fine art or the fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application. Art is often a synonym for fine art, as employed in the term "art gallery"....

, which is valued for being original and unique. More recent philosophy of art, however, considers interaction with tradition as integral to the development of new artistic expression.

Relationship to other concepts

In the social sciences, tradition is often contrasted with modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, particularly in terms of whole societies. This dichotomy is generally associated with a linear model of social change, in which societies progress from being traditional to being modern. Tradition-oriented societies have been characterized as valuing filial piety
Filial piety
In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

, harmony and group welfare, stability, and interdependence
Interdependence
Interdependence is a relation between its members such that each is mutually dependent on the others. This concept differs from a simple dependence relation, which implies that one member of the relationship can function or survive apart from the other....

, while a society exhibiting modernity would value "individualism (with free will and choice), mobility, and progress." Another author discussing tradition in relationship to modernity, Anthony Giddons, sees tradition as something bound to ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, where ritual guarantees the continuation of tradition. Gusfield and others, though, criticize this dichotomy as oversimplified, arguing that tradition is dynamic, heterogeneous, and coexists successfully with modernity even within individuals.

Tradition should be differentiated from customs, conventions
Convention (norm)
A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom....

, law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s, norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

, routines, rules
and similar concepts. Whereas tradition is supposed to be invariable, they are seen as more flexible and subject to innovation and change. Whereas justification for tradition is ideological
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

, the justification for other similar concepts is more practical or technical. Over time, customs, routines, conventions, rules and such can evolve into traditions, but that usually requires that they stop having (primarily) a practical purpose. For example, wig
Wig
A wig is a head of hair made from horsehair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or synthetic materials which is worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. The word wig is short for periwig and first...

s worn by lawyers were at first common and fashionable; spur
Spur
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding. It is usually used to refine the riding aids and to back up the natural aids . The spur is used in every equestrian discipline...

s worn by military officials were at first practical but now are both impractical and traditional.

Preservation of tradition

In many countries, concerted attempts are being made to preserve traditions that are at risk of being lost. A number of factors can exacerbate the loss of tradition, including industrialization, globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, and the assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 or marginalization
Marginalization
In sociology, marginalisation , or marginalization , is the social process of becoming or being made marginal or relegated to the fringe of society e.g.; "the marginalization of the underclass", "marginalisation of intellect", etc.-Individual:Marginalization at the individual level results in an...

 of specific cultural groups. Customary celebrations and lifestyles are among the traditions that are sought to be preserved. Likewise, the concept of tradition has been used to defend the preservation and reintroduction of minority languages such as Cornish
Cornish language
Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

 under the auspices of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a European treaty adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe...

. Specifically, the charter holds that these languages "contribute to the maintenance and development of Europe's cultural wealth and traditions". The Charter goes on to call for "the use or adoption... of traditional and correct forms of place-names in regional or minority languages". Similarly, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 includes both "oral tradition" and "traditional manifestations" in its definition of a country's cultural properties and heritage. It therefore works to preserve tradition in countries such as Brazil.

In [Japan], certain artworks, structures, craft techniques and performing arts are considered by the Japanese government to be a precious legacy of the Japanese people, and are protected under the Japanese Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. This law also identifies people skilled at traditional arts as "National Living Treasures
Living National Treasure
Living National Treasure or Living Human Treasure is a title awarded in several countries, and denotes a person or a group which is regarded as a national treasure while still alive....

", and encourages the preservation of their craft.

For native peoples like the Māori in New Zealand, there is conflict between the fluid identity assumed as part of modern society and the traditional identity with the obligations that accompany it; the loss of language heightens the feeling of isolation and damages the ability to perpetuate tradition.

See also

  • Aition
  • Conservatism
    Conservatism
    Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

  • Folklore
    Folklore
    Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

  • History
    History
    History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...



  • Perennial philosophy
    Perennial philosophy
    Perennial philosophy is the notion of the universal recurrence of philosophical insight independent of epoch or culture, including universal truths on the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness .-History:The idea of a perennial philosophy has great...

  • Ševčenko's law
    Ševcenko's law
    Ševčenko's law or Ševčenko's law of the dog and the forest is a way of describing the tendency of historians to repeat the coverage and the work of previous historians, to the disadvantage of general historical coverage. It was enunciated by the Polish-Ukrainian historian, Ihor Ševčenko.The...



Works cited

  • Hobsbawm, E. J., Introduction: Inventing Traditions, in

Further reading

  • Sowell, T (1980) Knowledge and Decisions Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-003738-0
  • Polanyi, M (1964) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy ISBN 0-226-67288-3
  • Klein, Ernest, Dr., A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the English language: Dealing with the origin of words and their sense development thus illustrating the history and civilization of culture, Elsevier, Oxford, 7th ed., 2000
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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