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A tradition is a
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconsci ...

belief
or behavior (folk custom) passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. A component of
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
, common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyers' wigs or military officers'
spur A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boot A riding boot is a boot A boot, plural boots, is a type of specific footwear Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which originally serves to purpos ...

spur
s), but the idea has also been applied to
social norms Social norms are shared standards of acceptance, acceptable behavior by groups. Social norms can both be informal understandings that govern the behavior of members of a society, as well as be codified into wikt:rule, rules and laws. Social norm ...
such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word ''tradition'' itself derives from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''tradere'' literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have an ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time. Various academic disciplines also use the word in a variety of ways. The phrase "according to tradition", or "by tradition", usually means that whatever information follows is known only by oral tradition, but is not supported (and perhaps may be refuted) by physical documentation, by a physical artifact, or other quality evidence. ''Tradition'' is used to indicate the quality of a piece of information being discussed. For example, "According to tradition,
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Homer
was born on
Chios Chios (; el, Χίος, Khíos ) is the fifth largest of the Greece, Greek list of islands of Greece, islands, situated in the northern Aegean Sea. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. Chios is notable for its exports of Mast ...

Chios
, but many other locales have historically claimed him as theirs." This tradition may never be proven or disproven. In another example, "
King Arthur King Arthur ( cy, Brenin Arthur, kw, Arthur Gernow, br, Roue Arzhur) was a Legend, legendary Celtic Britons, British leader who, according to Historians in England during the Middle Ages, medieval histories and Romance (heroic literature), ...

King Arthur
, by tradition a true British king, has inspired many well loved stories." Whether they are documented fact or not does not decrease their value as cultural history and literature. Traditions are a subject of study in several academic fields, especially in
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
such as
folklore studies Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or folk life studies in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Us ...
,
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
,
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
, and
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
. The concept of tradition, as the notion of holding on to a previous time, is also found in political and philosophical discourse. For example, it is the basis of the political concept of traditionalism, and also strands of many world religions including
traditional Catholicism 250px, Altar in the Church of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, Dublin, arranged as before the Second Vatican Council.">Second_Vatican_Council.html" ;"title="Dublin, arranged as before the Second Vatican Council">Dublin, arranged as before the Second Vat ...
. 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 traditionIn social theory Social theories are analytical frameworks, or paradigms, that are used to study and interpret social phenomenon, social phenomena.Seidman, S., 2016. Contested knowledge: Social theory today. John Wiley & Sons. A tool used by social ...
, including
industrialization Factories, refineries, mines, and agribusiness are all elements of industrialisation Industrialisation ( alternatively spelled industrialization) is the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian societ ...
,
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which ha ...

globalization
, and the assimilation or
marginalization Social exclusion or social marginalisation is the social disadvantage and relegation to the fringe of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measu ...
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, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period (the modern era) and the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices that arose in the wake of the Renaissance The Renaissance ...

modernity
and should be differentiated from customs, conventions,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
s,
norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy), a standard in normative ethics that is prescriptive rather than a descriptive or explanato ...
, routines, rules and similar concepts.


Definition

The English word ''tradition'' comes from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''traditio'' via , the noun from the verb ''tradere'' (to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping); it was originally used in
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
to refer to the concept of legal transfers and
inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property i ...

inheritance
. According to
Anthony Giddens use both this parameter and , birth_date to display the person's date of birth, date of death, and age at death) --> , death_place = , other_names = Tony Giddens , title = Director of the London School of Economics ...
and others, the modern meaning of tradition evolved during the
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
period, in opposition to modernity and
progress upright=1.14, alt=Painting depicting a woman draped in white robes flying westward across the land with settlers and following her on foot, John Gast, ''American Progress'', Progress is the movement towards a refined, improved, or otherwise de ...
.Shil
3–6
/ref>Shil
18
/ref> As with many other generic terms, there are many definitions of tradition.Shil
12
/ref> The concept includes a number of interrelated ideas; the unifying one is that tradition refers to beliefs, objects or customs performed or believed 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, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study ...
, with lost or
arcane Western esotericism, also known as esotericism, esoterism, and sometimes the Western mystery tradition, is a term scholars use to categorise a wide range of loosely related ideas and movements that developed within Western society. These ideas an ...
origins, existing from ''
time immemorial Time immemorial ( la, Ab immemorabili) is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate ...
''.Shil
15
/ref> Originally, traditions were passed orally, without the need for a
writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communic ...
. Tools to aid this process include
poetic devices Poetic devices are a form of literary device used in poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as pho ...
such as
rhyme A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (usually, exactly the same sound) in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Most often, this kind of perfect rhyming is consciously used for a musical or aesthetic e ...
and
alliteration In literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definiti ...
. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as tradition, or as part of an
oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication Human communication, or anthroposemiotics, is the field dedicated to understanding how human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of prima ...
. Even such traditions, however, are presumed to have originated (been "invented" by humans) at some point. Traditions are often presumed to be
ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from ...

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 A generation is "all of the people born and living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms ** extant taxon, Living species, one that is not ex ...

generation
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.Hobsbaw
1
/ref> 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.Hobsbaw
2–3
/ref> Tradition changes slowly, with changes from one generation to the next being seen as significant.Shil
14
/ref> 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: # the forms of artistic heritage of a particular culture. # beliefs or customs instituted and maintained by societies and governments, such as
national anthem A national anthem is a patriotic Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment. This attachment can be a combination of ...
s and
national holidaysNational holiday may refer to: *National day, a day when a nation celebrates a very important event in its history, such as its establishment *Public holiday, a holiday established by law, usually a day off for at least a portion of the workforce, s ...
, such as
Federal holidays in the United States In the United States, a federal holiday is a calendar date that is recognized and designated by the federal government of the United States as a holiday. Every year on a U.S. federal holiday, non-essential federal government offices are closed, ...
. # beliefs or customs maintained by
religious denomination A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...
s and that share history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. For example, one can speak of Islam's tradition or Christianity's tradition. Many objects, beliefs and customs can be traditional. Rituals of
social interaction In social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refer t ...
can be traditional, with phrases and gestures such as saying "thank you", sending birth announcements,
greeting card A greeting card is a piece of card stock, usually with an illustration An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print and digital published media, such as ...
s, etc. Tradition can also refer to larger concepts practiced by groups (family traditions at Christmas), organizations (company's
picnic A picnic is a meal A meal is an eating Eating (also known as consuming) is the ingestion Ingestion is the consumption of a substance by an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ' ...

picnic
) or societies, such as the practice of national and public holidays. Some of the oldest traditions include
monotheism Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciou ...
(three millennia) and
citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and th ...

citizenship
(two millennia).Shil
16
/ref> It can also include material objects, such as buildings, works of art or tools. Tradition is often used as an
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
, in contexts such as
traditional music Folk music is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and t ...

traditional music
,
traditional medicine Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic gr ...

traditional medicine
, traditional values 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 "Ancient" Scottish clan tartans are an example of an invented tradition created in the 19th century. Invented traditions are cultural practices which are perceived as traditional, arising from the people, and of immemorial antiquity, but which in ...
", 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.Hobsbaw
1–2
/ref> For example, the
Panhellenic Games "Panhellenic Games" is the collective term for four separate sports festivals held in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Age ...
were a tradition in
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
where only Greek men from Greece and
Greek coloniesGreek colonization was an organised colonial expansion by the Archaic Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by lan ...
could compete. 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 A wedding dress or bridal gown is the dress A dress (also known as a frock or a gown) is a garment traditionally worn by women or girl A girl is a young female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an ...
, which only became popular after
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

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 The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Towns ...

Palace of Westminster
(location of the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
) in the
Gothic style Gothic architecture (or pointed architecture) is an architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-class of styl ...
. Similarly, most of the traditions associated with
monarchy of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established ...
, seen as rooted deep in history, actually date to 19th century. Other examples include the invention of tradition in Africa and other colonial holdings by the occupying forces.
Terence Ranger Terence "Terry" Osborn Ranger (29 November 1929 – 3 January 2015) was a prominent British Africanist, best known as a historian of Zimbabwe. Part of the post-colonial generation of historians, his work spanned the pre- and post-Independence ( ...
, ''The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa'', in
Requiring legitimacy, the
colonial power Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colonies In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign c ...
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 cultures, providing a commonality of experience and promoting the unified national identity espoused by
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
.Hobsbaw
7
/ref> Common examples include public holidays (particularly those unique to a particular nation), the singing of national anthems, and traditional national cuisine (see
national dish A national dish is a culinary dish that is strongly associated with a particular country. A dish can be considered a national dish for a variety of reasons: * It is a staple food 215px, Unprocessed seeds of spelt, a historically important staple ...
).
Expatriate An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person residing in a country other than their native country. In common usage, the term often refers to professionals, skilled workers, or artists taking positions outside their home country, eit ...
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.Kurz-Milke and Martignon 129 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 Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...
, 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.Kurz-Milke and Martignon 129–130 For
Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American whose 1962 book ' was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term ', which has since become an English-language idiom. Kuhn made several cla ...
, 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 embracement of tradition. Traditions are a subject of study in several academic fields in
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
—chiefly anthropology,
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
, and biology—with somewhat different meanings in different fields. It is also used in varying contexts in other fields, such as history,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
and
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
. 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 Albert Shils (1 July 1910 – 23 January 1995) was a Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and in Sociology at the University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago, U of C, or Chicago) is a priva ...
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; scholars such as Pascal Boyer argue that defining tradition and developing theories about it are important to the discipline.


Archaeology

In
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
, the term ''tradition'' is a set of
cultures Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling diff ...
or industries which appear to develop on from one another over a period of time. The term is especially common in the study of
American archaeology The archaeology of the Americas is the study of the archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anth ...
.


Biology

Biologists, when examining groups of non-humans, have observed repeated behaviors which are taught within communities from one generation to the next. Tradition is 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", and has been called a precursor to "culture" in the anthropological sense.Fragaszy and Perry 2, 12 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 and ethnomusicology

In the field of
musicology Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly analysis and research-based study of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony ...
and
ethnomusicology Ethnomusicology is the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. It encompasses distinct theoretical and methodical approaches that emphasize cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other di ...
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 societyIn sociology, traditional society refers to a society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically ...
, as contrasted by the more modern
industrial society In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The te ...
. This approach was most notably portrayed in
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
's concepts of
traditional authority Traditional authority (also known as traditional domination) is a form of leadership Leadership is both a research area, and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual, group or organization to "lead", influence or guide other ...
and modern
rational-legal authority Rational-legal authority (also known as rational authority, legal authority, rational domination, legal domination, or bureaucratic authority) is a form of leadership Leadership is both a research area, and a practical skill encompassing the abil ...
. In more modern works, One hundred years later, sociology sees tradition as a
social construct Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epist ...
used to contrast past with the present and as a form of
rationality Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with t ...

rationality
used to justify certain course of action. Traditional society is characterized by lack of distinction between family and business,
division of labor Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. The other operations are addition, subtraction, and multi ...
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 is the characteristic of self-sufficiency, usually applied to societies, communities, states and their economic systems. Autarky as an ideal or method has been embraced by a wide range of political ideologies and movements, especially ...
. Early theories positing the simple,
unilineal evolution Unilineal evolution, also referred to as classical social evolution, is a 19th-century social theory about the evolution of societies and culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms f ...
of societies from traditional to industrial model are now seen as too simplistic. In 1981 Edward Shils 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. 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 (27 January 1934 – 10 April 2013) was a sociologist, philosopher and Professor in the Paris-Sorbonne University Paris-Sorbonne University (also known as Paris IV; french: Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV) was a public unive ...

Raymond Boudon
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 traditionAppeal to tradition (also known as ''argumentum ad antiquitatem'' or ''argumentum ad antiquitam'', appeal to antiquity, or appeal to common practice) is an argument in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it is correlated with some past ...
(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.


Philosophy

The idea of tradition is important in philosophy. Twentieth century philosophy is often divided between an 'analytic' tradition, dominant in Anglophone and Scandinavian countries, and a 'continental' tradition, dominant in German and Romance speaking Europe. Increasingly central to continental philosophy is the project of deconstructing what its proponents, following
Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...
, call 'the tradition', which began with
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
. In contrast, some continental philosophers - most notably,
Hans-Georg Gadamer Hans-Georg Gadamer (; ; February 11, 1900 – March 13, 2002) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens o ...

Hans-Georg Gadamer
- have attempted to rehabilitate the tradition of
Aristotelianism Aristotelianism ( ) is a philosophical tradition inspired by the work of Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philo ...
. This move has been replicated within analytic philosophy by
Alasdair MacIntyre Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre (; born 12 January 1929) is a Scottish-American philosopher who has contributed to moral and political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the natu ...

Alasdair MacIntyre
. However, MacIntyre has himself deconstructed the idea of 'the tradition', instead posing
Aristotelianism Aristotelianism ( ) is a philosophical tradition inspired by the work of Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philo ...
as one philosophical tradition in rivalry with others.


In political and religious discourse

The concepts of tradition and traditional values 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 Catholicism is a set of religious beliefs and practices comprising customs, traditions, liturgical forms, public and private, individual and collective devotions, and presentations of Catholic Church The Catholic Church, ...
" refers to those, such as Archbishop Lefebvre, who want the worship and practices of the Church to be as they were before the
Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological e ...
of 1962–65. Likewise,
Sunni Muslims Sunni Islam () is by far the largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word ''Sunnah'', referring to the behaviour of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and ...
are referred to as ''Ahl el-Sunnah wa Al-Jamā‘ah'' ( ar, أهل السنة والجماعة), literally "people of the tradition f_Muhammad.html" ;"title="Muhammad.html" ;"title="f Muhammad">f Muhammad">Muhammad.html" ;"title="f Muhammad">f Muhammadand the community", emphasizing their attachment to religious and cultural tradition. More generally, tradition has been used as a way of determining the political spectrum, with right-wing politics, right-wing parties having a stronger affinity to certain ways of the past than left-wing politics, left-wing ones. Here, the concept of adherence tradition is embodied by the political philosophy of traditionalist conservatism (or simply ''traditionalism''), which emphasizes the need for the principles of
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
and transcendent moral order,
hierarchy A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarch ...

hierarchy
and
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, and a society is made up of its constituent social roles. Organic unity was propounded by the philosopher Plato ...
,
agrarianism Agrarianism as a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy relates to the ownership and use of land for farming, or to the part of a society or economy that is tied to agriculture. Agrarianism and agrarians will typically advocate on beh ...
,
classicism Classicism, in the arts The arts refers to the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something somehow new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangibl ...
and
high culture High culture encompasses the culture, cultural objects of aesthetic value, which a society collectively esteem as exemplary art, and the Intellectualism, intellectual works of philosophy, history, art and literature that a society consider represen ...
, and the intersecting spheres of loyalty. Traditionalists would therefore reject the notions of
individualism Individualism is the Ethics, moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self- ...
, liberalism, modernity, and
social progress Image:American Progress (John Gast painting).jpg, upright=1.14, alt=Painting depicting a woman draped in white robes flying westward across the land with settlers and following her on foot, John Gast (painter), John Gast, ''American Progress'', ...
, 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 . 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 In phenomenology Phenomenology may refer to: * Empirical research, when used to describe measurement methods in some sciences * An empirical relationship or phenomenological model * Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of build ...
and keeping groups distinct from one another.


In artistic discourse

In artistic contexts, in the performance of traditional genres (such as ), 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 is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea In common usage and in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, suc ...

creativity
'', with traditional and
folk art Traditional styles of faience pottery from Székely Land, Romania, on sale in Budapest in 2014. A conventional idea of folk art, though no doubt made in quasi-industrial conditions. Folk art covers all forms of visual art made in the context ...

folk art
associated with unoriginal imitation or repetition, in contrast to
fine art In European academic traditions, fine art is developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from decorative art or applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork. In the aesthe ...

fine art
, 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'', 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 In Confucian ethics, Confucian, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhist and Taoism, Taoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety'', thought to be wri ...
, harmony and group welfare, stability, and
interdependence Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems, i.e. cohesive groups of interrelated, interdependent parts that can be natural or man-made, human-made. Every system is bounded by space and time, influenced by its environment, defined by i ...
, while a society exhibiting modernity would value "individualism (with free will and choice), mobility, and progress."Bronner, Simon J. "Tradition" in ''International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences''. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr.. Vol. 8. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. p420-422. Another author discussing tradition in relationship to modernity, Anthony Giddens, sees tradition as something bound to ritual, where ritual guarantees the continuation of tradition.Giddens, "Living in a Post-Traditional Society" 64 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, laws,
norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy), a standard in normative ethics that is prescriptive rather than a descriptive or explanato ...
, 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 An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes abo ...
, the justification for other similar concepts is more practical or technical.Hobsbaw
3–4
/ref> 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, wigs worn by lawyers were at first common and fashionable;
spur A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boot A riding boot is a boot A boot, plural boots, is a type of specific footwear Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which originally serves to purpos ...

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


Preservation

The legal protection of tradition includes a number of international agreements and national laws. In addition to the fundamental protection of cultural property, there is also cooperation between the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
,
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
and
Blue Shield International The Blue Shield, formerly the International Committee of the Blue Shield, is an international organization founded in 1996 to protect the world's cultural heritage from threats such as armed conflict and natural disasters. Originally intended as ...
in the protection or recording of traditions and customs. The protection of culture and traditions is becoming increasingly important nationally and internationally. 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, or globalisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which ha ...

globalization
, and the assimilation or
marginalization Social exclusion or social marginalisation is the social disadvantage and relegation to the fringe of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measu ...
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 is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
under the auspices of the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and internationa ...
. 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 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
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 Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an 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", 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.


Traditional cultural expressions

The phrase " traditional cultural expressions" is used by the
World Intellectual Property Organization The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO; french: Organisation mondiale de la propriété intellectuelle (OMPI)) is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental orga ...
to refer to "any form of artistic and literary expression in which traditional culture and knowledge are embodied. They are transmitted from one generation to the next, and include handmade textiles, paintings, stories, legends, ceremonies, music, songs, rhythms and dance."


See also

*
Aition An origin myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. ...
*
Folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

Folklore
*
Perennial philosophy The perennial philosophy ( la, philosophia perennis), also referred to as perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in philosophy and spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth ...
*
Sacred tradition Sacred tradition is a theological term used in major Christian tradition Christian tradition is a collection of tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some propos ...
* Traditionalism


References


Citations


Works cited

* * * Hobsbawm, E. J., ''Introduction: Inventing Traditions'', in * *


Further reading

* Sowell, T (1980) ''Knowledge and Decisions'' Basic Books. * Polanyi, M (1964) ''Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy'' * Pelikan, Jaroslav (1984). ''The Vindication of Tradition''. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. pbk. * 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.


External links

* {{Authority control Social philosophy Political culture Social agreement
Sociological terminology This category relates to sociological Sociology is the study of society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or s ...