chapter  4
11 Pages

Culture and Social Change: Is Underdevelopment a Given of Cultural Tradition? The Problem of Cultural Innovation in Sociology

WithBassam Tibi

In the classic article "Cultural Sociology," originally published by Vierkandt in the Handworterbuch der Soziologie, Alfred Weber defines culture as a "spiritual and intellectual expressional form within the substance of life, or a spiritual and intellectual attitude toward it." In the Muslim culture, for example, the virginity of female relatives is regarded as a substantial mark of honor. This sociocultural norm and the often dramatic attitudes associated with it are as widespread today as they were during the Middle Ages, as much part of a highly modern urban environment as an archaic rural one. Of particular interest is the question of the extent to which a culture can either promote or impede social change. In this connection, S. N. Eisenstadt disputes the thesis that the Protestant ethic is an economic ethic and that social change is contingent upon it alone.