Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Week One: Contemporary Social Theory as Critique of Classical Theory

Addressing subjectivity and agency

In this weeks lecture series, we looked at our assumptions and questioned our notions of knowledge, asking questions about the relevance of sociological theory and research.

We are in the process of actively changing and shaping our own minds..
While for the most part, we rely on our experiences and often deeply held assumptions to make sense of the social world.. We do this by using the sociological imagination as a tool to see how our 'stories', our own biographies, our own lives fit into the broader contemporary social and immediate historical context.

Can you challenge your own deeply held beliefs?
Do you dare to abandon them?
Do you dare to challenge your assumptions, traditions? What are they?
What are the ten most unique features of what you can claim to be 'your culture'?
Do you dare to challenge and influence your own community and society?

Feel free to reply or comment at these posts. If you are not a registered blog user, your comments will be published as anonymous (click on the anonymous option) and just remember to sign off after your comment with your name and student ID number. An example appears as Comment number one. You may introduce yourself if you like, talk about what most interests you about sociology, and even if you think studying social theory is a waste of time? And why! Try sharing your responses to the reflective questions above.. in our process of studying social science remember what Anthony Giddens had to say:

"Learning Sociology is in part a process of self-exploration"

So then, this course is about you. It is about you as a student of sociology; you as an individual. While participation here counts as part of your class participation assessment (10% of year mark), engaging in chat and discussions here will enhance and enrich your experience of the course. Group dynamic is important, and your shared views will create a wonderful energy of debate. This way, we can all learn from each other! So lets get this started!


Thursdays lecture will focus on Marx' Base/Superstructure model and look at the example of creative forms of resistance to dominance.. 'Public transcript vs Hidden transcript'

Readings of interest: Soweto Poetry as example of 'Hidden Transcript'.

http://www.michaelchapman.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=53

Note: Reading Packs should be available by next week.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you think?

Can we know?

(This is an example of anonymous comment)

NAME OF STUDENT
STUDENT ID No.

Thamsanqa said...

I could say,I'm in the process of challenging m own beliefs. Meaning -very confused. But I have a story to tell. Just this holidays me and a circle of about 8 friends were having a conversation and debate about religion. All of us were a bit unsure of which side to take, African or Christian. It was easy to dis-out Christiatnity using politics. But when I decided to challange African traditional belief system, ancestrol belief, I was immediately outcasted. The scene was so bad that thoguhg some could see myths from facts but couldn't let what they believed for more than 30 yrs just be taken as myths. The very close friend of mine wanted his debts immediately emphasizing his disappointment and total crash of 10 years friendship. Maybe it was the intoxication tha triggered all his actions since the debate lasted more than 5 hours. There was nothing to say and do anymore but to live the party. But what I realised was what a person believe is very hard to challenge and accept defeat. Blood could fill the floor.

Thamsanqa said...

I could say,I'm in the process of challenging m own beliefs. Meaning -very confused. But I have a story to tell. Just this holidays me and a circle of about 8 friends were having a conversation and debate about religion. All of us were a bit unsure of which side to take, African or Christian. It was easy to dis-out Christiatnity using politics. But when I decided to challange African traditional belief system, belief in ancestors, I was immediately outcasted. The scene was so bad that thouhg some could see myths from facts but couldn't let what they believed for more than 30 yrs just be taken as myths. The very close friend of mine wanted his belongings from me immediately emphasizing his disappointment and total crash of a 10 years friendship. Maybe it was the intoxication that triggered all his actions since the debate lasted more than 5 hours. There was nothing to say and do anymore but to live the party. But what I realised was what a person believe is very hard to challenge and accept defeat. Blood could fill the floor.

Thamsanqa Ledula
Stud # 205512281

KimyaShafinaaz said...

hey Thamsanqa..

thats interesting.. often, the line between different kinds of belief systems is blurred and we understand it as essential to who we are; so much so that we fail to question our basic assumptions. why do you think people are afraid to question? does it lessen our status in society? what are we afraid of? what will happen if we ask 'too many questions???'

:)

shafinaaz

ps: kimya is my writers pseudonym.. my real name is shafinaaz

pps: thanks for remembering to identify yourself!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

The part of Socilogy that really interests me is the fact that it is able to explain and make sense of society and the reason that society behaves in the manner that they do.I understand that society is influx and because of this the knowledge that we gain cannot be considered as the gospel truth.Therefore I use the knowledge that I gain from socilogy as guidlines to understanding society. As I learn more about society,I do begin to challenge my own beliefs.But I will only question my beliefs to a certain extent.Not to the point of abandoning them. Because it is very difficult for a person to live a life if he has no beliefs.
Traditions in my life are slowly but surely changing. As the world becomes more global and cultures begin to mix it is very difficult carry a tradition with the same enthusiasm as my grandparents did.
I will not dare to challenge the beliefs of my community. If I had to do so,I would probably be labelled as an outcast.I see beliefs in society as being the bond that holds our society together.

DEEVEN SIGAMONEY
Student no: 206507211

Anonymous said...

I personally have learnt over the years to not question other people's beliefs. As a christian growing up in a community where people believed in their ancestors, when ever the question of religion and beliefs came up people's tempers got out of control. As far as I concered it is completely understandable I myself would not give up my belief in God even if you paid me. It's all I know & it has worked for me all my life.

Precious Majola
St. no. 206508899

Anonymous said...

when it comes to beliefs which we aquire from our family customs, traditions and religion, we form our own basic assumptions about life. it is very difficult to question our beliefs on life because they've made us what we are today, our decisions were influenced by these beliefs as well as our conclusions.but beliefs which we have resulting from our own personal experieneces are the ones i would put thumbs up for.sociology helps us to study societies and ourselves, thus making our own beliefs and assumptions about life, these are the ones i would not question like the beliefs i acquire through customs and, religion etc.

KimyaShafinaaz said...

hi there.. very relevant points raised.. however, previous comment needs to be identified please!!!

Anonymous said...

I've learnt not to challenge my beliefs or anyone elses for that matter because it will definitely raise tensions. Im a very head strong person and I stand for what I believe in. People have tried to influence me into forsaking my beliefs and adopting others that are suitable in our present society but I believe that if I don't stand for what I beleive in and abandon my beliefs then I'll fall for anything. My beliefs have moulded me into the person that I am and Im quite content with that. My assumptions are subject to change as I learn more about life and gain more knowledge but I try not to assume things without hard core facts because it could lead to me being ignorant of certain things. I for one belive that I don't have a tradition.I believe that im a leader and not a follower so it's in my duty to infuence my community and soiety, as for the challenging part iv'e yet to do that.

Anonymous said...

I personally feel that we all have variuos beliefs etc and that what a certain group of people may believ in can be very different to that of the next group.Although this may be the case, one should not loose sight of the fact that everything we belive in (or at least almost everything) is subjective.But we should also remember that there are universal norms or beliefs such as that of respecting one another that allows for people to live in harmony with one another.It is these universal beliefs that also allow us to be able to tolerate each others differences.What we should also remember is that no particular person's beliefs are more important than that of the next person.
Nontobeko P. Majola
206516506

Anonymous said...

With regards to the interview project,I was wondering if we could use various ways of interviewing people such as interviewing people in chatrooms,over the phone etc so as to get a wide number of people to interview or should we stick to the conventional way of "interviewing people"
206516506

KimyaShafinaaz said...

Hi Nontobeko

Thats an interesting question. There are various ways of undertaking interviews. As I said, we could use formal structured questionairres or casual seeming conversations. The reason we chose the conversations is because it allows you, the interviewer to develop an understanding of the sensitive issues around the process of the interview, it allows you to engage with the person that you are interviewing on a one-on-one level, and it allows you to analyse your own role in the process very closely. So for now, I think that it is important to attempt the 'conventional' way. You will not necessarily obtain the same dynamic in a chatroom or over the telephone, that you will receive in a narrative conversation. But that would be an interesting topic to debate in any event!!
Lets see what others have to say...

Anonymous said...

THE ISSUE OF BELIEFS AND CULTURE IS A VERY INTERESTING ONE.IN ANSWERING THE QUESTION I WILL ALSO USE MYSELF AS AN EXAMPLE.FIRSTLY LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA AND IN A SOCIETY THAT IS EVER CHANGING AND WITH SO MANY DIVERSE CULTURES,BLIEFS AND PEOPLE;I HAVE REALISED THAT I HAVE TO QUESTION MY BELIEFS,EVEN IF I HOLD THEM STRONGLY BECAUSE AT TIME I COME ACROSS BELIEFS THAT ARE A BIT DIFFERENT BUT FIND THAT THEY FIT IN WITH MY LIFESTYLE.IN SHORT I AM A BLACK PERSON BUT GREW UP IN CHATSWORTH WHICH IS AN INDIAN AREA AND OVER THE YEARS HAVE CHALLENGED MANY OF MY CULTURAL BELIEFS...AT TIME BECAUSE I COMPARE IT WITH THAT OF OTHER PEOPLE I INTERACT WITH AND THEY HAVE A CULTURE THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM MY OWN.I PREFER TO LABEL MY CULTURE AS 'REVOLUTIONARY CULTURE'.MEANING I DO NOT STICK TO THE NORM,I AM OPEN MINDE AND WHAT I FIND GOES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WAY I CHOOSE TO LIVE,IS THEN INCORPORATED INTO MY LIFESTYLE.

I DO ATTEMPT TO TEACH MY FAMILY AND MAYBE FRIENDS ABOUT WHAT THEY DO NOT KNOW SO THAT THEY MAY COMPARE THEIR BELIFS SYSTEMS AND TRADITIONS TO ANOTHER.TO A CERTAIN EXTENT I DO ATTEMPT TO IFLUENCE THEM BECAUSE THEY HOLD ON VERY STRONGLY TO THEIR CULTURE AND I SEEK TO OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE TO WHAT THEY ARE USED TO.

LASTLY WHAT INTERESTS ME ABOYUT SOCIOLOGY?

I THINK I REALLY LIKE THE OLD THEORISTS MY FAVOURITE BEING KARL MARX AND MAX WEBBER.WEBBER SIMPLY BEAUSE I SEE HIS THEORY AS AN EXTENTION OF MARX'S THEORY AND THEY CAN BE APPLIED TO CONTEMPORARY SOCITY AS WELL.

NAME: IRVIN BHEKUMUSA MAPHUMULO

STUDENT NUMBER:205517503

Anonymous said...

THERE IS NO INFORMATION THAT IS USELESS AND IN ESSENCE SOCIOGY AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY VERY USEFUL.THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE WORLD AND SOCITIES WE ARE LIVING IN IS EVER CHANGING AND INFORMATION GIANED IN THE PAST MIGHT NOT SEEM RELEVANT TODAY.HOWEVER IT IS WRONG TO THINK IN THAT MANNER BECAUSE AS HUMAN BEING WE INHERENTLY LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER.OUR CUSTOMS,VALUES AND WHAT IS THE NORM ARE PASSED ON.AND HAVING SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY AND INFORMATION HELPS US TO MAKE LINKS AND PICK UP ON SIMILARITES OR WHAT DOES NOT CHANGE.ALSO IT HEPLS TO NOTICE DIFFENCES.

NAME: IRVIN BHEKUMUSA MAPHUMULO

STUDENT NUBER:205517503

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone,
I think the points raised about religion are very interesting. For me, religious debate will always rage for a couple of reasons. Firstly, in order to argue against someone else's religious beliefs, well for it to be in any way convincing to them, you have to argue against their belief system by using their own set of epsitemic principles. One cannot, for example, argue against Islam from a Christian perspective because Islam and Christianity each have a different basis for the way in which they collect knowledge. Any attempt at this results in each person stating why they believe something, but the problem is that the Christian wont believe the Muslim because the Muslim has has a different starting point for their knowledge: The Koran. In order for a Christian to prove something to a Muslim they would have to prove it in terms of the Koran and vice versa. The argument extends to all religions and science too. People believe what they believe for a lot of different reasons, the only thing we can be sure of(or the only thing I'm sure of) is that everyone is guessing.

Will Smyly
206501517

Oh yah, thanks for the info on the dairy project. I was feeling lost before i discovered this blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow that was amazingly frustrating! I just thought about this stuff, wrote it down, and then watched it disappear into cyberspace. arg.

Anyway, let's try this again. I found the debate above really interesting. Religious debate is always raging and here's what i have to say about it. I'm not religious at all by the way so i'm going to do my best not to step on toes.

It will always be impossible for one religion (or belief system) to prove itself over another because each belief system makes use of a different set of epistemic principles. Take for example a Christian and a Muslim. one believes in the Koran and the other in the Bible. In order for Muslims to prove anything to Christians, they would have to prove it to the Christians on Christian terms. i.e. by making use of the Bible. And vice versa of course. If you attempt to prove it in any other way you are just pushing and it's not at all convincing, as these individual religious texts are where the individual people collect their knowledge.

The only thing I'm sure of is that everybody's guessing.

will smyly
206501517

KimyaShafinaaz said...

Hi guys!

Thanks for the debates raging here! I hope that you are getting to read some of the stuff that others have written as well! I have had to moderate comments and thats why they dont appear immediately. The internet is a magnet for often dodgy advertising and the like, so if comments are allowed without being checked out first, we would have an irritating number of oddball commentary. So what happens is, you type in your comment, and I receive an email, I read it and publish to the blog. Simple as that :)
Nothings lost.

Anonymous said...

The interesting part of sociology is that we deal with things of the everyday lives that we have become so used to and never really look into these things as to how they came about.this exercise for one has given me a different perspective of life, ive never for once thought about challenging my beliefs and customs. if i were to question my my beliefs and other practices which have shaped what i am today, i would. not that i have a problem with my cultures and traditions but rather who came up with them and why and if there were betetr ways of living life, would we rather go for other ways or stick to our assumptions.thngs such as respect for the elederly, obeying my parents and household rules are what I would call family customs. religious beliefs of going to church every sunday and the like are what i would call beliefs. such as i have mentioned above are things i would not challenge because they have shaped my positive identity. bu things such as paying lobola for marriage and waiting for a certain age until i can get married are what i would question because they do not shape or influence my life in any pesrpective.
LORETTA BALOYI, 206502718

Anonymous said...

In response to Shafinaaz's question above..people seldomly challenge the norm because as social beings it is vital to our identities that we form part of some social group to fulfill our need to BELONG and be accepted and avoid rejection. I also agree with someone else's comment that challenging beliefs that have always existed sometimes means challenging the whole system on which ur life is built thus forcing u to re examine your identity..few people have the courage to do that and would rather stick their head in the sand
Mandy
206507689

Anonymous said...

I think by interacting in society with others who may have different beliefs, assumptions, traditions or culture causes us to take a step back and look at our own culture and question it. We begin to develop our own opinion and voice. That voice may be one that supports or challenges our culture. The challenge lies on if we find that what we have been told to believe and do may be in conflict with our individual beliefs. Many find themselves in this situation but not all of them have the courage to act upon their beliefs. But there is a question that arises for me, what happens to those who support some their culture and other beliefs. I think that I am in a situation of almost compromising, not because I am too scared to challenge my culture but there are some things that I do believe that are also part of my culture but there are also some things that I do not agree with.

My two majors are media and sociology. I find that studying sociology complements media. Sociology looks at society and gains better insight to it, this helps with media to have more accurate understanding of their target market or in other aspects of media dealing with people.

student number: 206516466
Name: Sinenhlanhla Ngema

Anonymous said...

Earlier I said I would not change religions for any reason and I stand by that. But I feel as though I really do not have a problem with other people's different belief systems as long as they are not harmful to others. There are so many different cultures and languages in South Africa, if each one wanted the others to join them, imagine the conflict that would arise. The best we can do for our country,in order to achieve harmony, is get along. There are too many problems that we have in common in our country as a whole (e.g AIDS & poverty)let us look at that instead of our differences.

Anonymous said...

Oops! (ME TOO) I forgot to tagg the above comment. It's from:

Precious Majola
206508899

Anonymous said...

For me belief, religion and culture are basically the same thing.
it all boils down to your practises. whether it be the way you dress or your living arrangement and even , can i say , 'cultural practises'.

according to me the topic on religion, culture, tradition or what ever one may call it is very ambiguious. reason being ....
does any one ever know what is the reason or should i say purpose people engage in particular practises?
for example...
i am Gujarathi and every year we fast for a month.well it supposed to be a dry fast, where you only eat one meal a day. no meat or alcohol is allowed to be consumed during this month and adultry is also forbidden.
From a young age my parnets have taught and made me observe this fast religiously every year. and it is only recently that i questioned the reason fo0r this fast.
well my mum said that she is not really sure of the real reason we fast. she is only aware of old house wives tales relating t the fast.but she does the fast because her parents do it and she was taught to do it. she also stated that when she was young, you were not allowed to question such topics. therefore she religiously observes it. i then asked my gran mum the reason for doing this fast. she observes the fast because her parents observed it. and i am guessing that her parents did it because their parents did it, and so on...
the one year ... i decided to break the fast ... partly to see what would be my family's reaction if i did and ... because i was missing meat ...
and guess what...they were totally fine with it.
i think the way most people conduct them selves in the way they do and the reason they observe or practise certain rituals or practises is beacuse of the fear of God. the fear of God is instilled into a child as soon as soon as it is born ... (if i am right).
well that is the reason i do things ...

so the question i ask is ...
why people behave in a certain manner and why do they observe certain practises and rituals ...

Reesha Kara
206506958

Anonymous said...

The issue of religion and culture or believes is very complex and I have challenged them and even going to an extend of adondoning some of them.

I come from a christian family and like all Christians we believe in the death and resurection of Jesus on the cross. What consused me most was that we used to go to church every Sunday and again on thge other hand we believed in respecting our ansestors which is one of the African Traditional Religion. I once asked my parents why we have to combine two religions which is Christianity and African Traditional religion, and their answer was we are not combining two religions we are only Christian and the reason why we respect the dead is that they are following their Afircan roots.To me this is a sighn of confusion because it seemed like they do not know which way to take.

I aked them as to what will happen if we do not respect the dead they w you will only resurect on the judgement day so those people are not there anymore.

I do not dare challenge myown community and Society in Changing their believes because I believe that people believe in different things for different reasons. And what I have learnt rather is to respect their culture not to look down at them and say they arer lost because they will also think that i am also lost.

THE QUESTION IS CAN ASK IS; WHY ARE THERE SO MY CULTURES AND RELIGIONS AND WHY DO WE BLIEVE IN THOSE PRACTICES.

Anonymous said...

Above Quote by Mondy Pono

Anonymous said...

So i was thinking ..
What is the difference between culture and religion?
And i came up with this answer ...

Culture is a set of practises a group of people follow. It also comprises of norms, beliefs and values. It could even go to the extend of the way in which people think and view things in life and life as a whole.

So what is religion?
According to me religion is also a set of rituals or practises which a group of people follow. It can also influence the way one looks at life and interprets life. It, in a way also sets out certain norms, values and beliefs which people comply with .

So therfore i think religion and culture are basically the same thing.

Am i right ? OR Am i wrong?

Anonymous said...

the above message was from ...
Reesha kara
206506958

Anonymous said...

I attempted to answer Mondy Pono's question - 'Why are there so many cultures and religions and why do we believe in those practises?'

According to me culture or religion comprises of certain practises, values, norms, and so on.
I think that these components differ according to the way in which people have been brought up. these 'valuable assets' have been instilled into one from a very young age. And therefore it is viewed as the right way to do things. These people then bring their children up in the same manner in which they have been brought up and they instill the same 'positive aliments' into them. And the cycle goes on.

then i ask my self...
But why do these components (cultures and religions) differ?

I would think that the reason goes back to ancient civilization or pre-historic people. back then, people did things in certain ways which suited them best. those ways have been passed on from generation to generation. it is even been passed on in present day. Yes some of these practises may have changed due to the industrial revolutuion, the constantly changing enviromnment and other such factors. but the basic 'moral principals' (i would think) are still kept intact and are still passed down the family tree.

Therefore i think there are various religions and cultures.
people obide or belive in these practises because those are the only practises which have been instilled in them and are belived to be right.
If people did not follow these practises , i honestly think that the human race would be a highly confused bunch of people who lack morals, values and sound judgement.


Reesha Kara
206506958

KimyaShafinaaz said...

hey guys...


with regards to artistic manifestations of political transcript in the form of poetry, check out faith ka-manzi's newest poem, featured at the IOLS research newsletter for Feb 2008
at the following link:

http://iolsresearch.ukzn.ac.za/Wewantwewantwewant12975.aspx

Anonymous said...

Sociology it’s really an interesting module in the sense that it gives us a clear understanding of the society as a whole, the society which consists of families, community etc in which beliefs are held. And different people or groups believe in different things for different reasons. So I believe in what I believe in, others believe in what they believe in also and I do not want to question that. One of the reasons being that since I was born i found them already existing. My parents and my late grandparents have been holding them hence molding and living a better life. Holding beliefs such as respect of one another regardless of age, sex etc, to greet every person whom I meet and to do daily aspects of life in the households. Also I held religious beliefs like of church attendance on Sundays and I do not even think of challenging or abandon them. They are good and important in my life. So I must say that believes helps me to grow and they put me where I am right now

I sometimes feel like challenging my tradition/ culture especially when I am with other people in areas that do not practice the same culture or tradition as that of my mine but I can not. For an example; one of my Zulu’s friends one day invited me for her family rituals where cow slaughtered and traditional beer was prepared to celebrate and impress their ancestors but refused to go as according to my culture grown up in the Christian family we do not believe in ancestors but in God.

There are some features that I can claim to be culture. features such as the food I eat, the way I dress, values, norms, customs and beliefs, the language that I speak, tools and equipment that I use e.g. in farming and the farming methods that I practice. All this form my culture as a way of life in which I live hence identifying myself as a particular person.

I do not dare even in a single day to challenge and influence my community and society as is what they have opted for hence to do and follow what they see as valuable in life without questioning them about how and why the choose to do that.

Name; Taelo Marole
Student number; 206510168

Anonymous said...

I never did question my beliefs because in my culture it is something that is forbidden, i guess now that i think about it i would have some questions but essentially my belief system seems to be indoctrinated and to search for answers would be defying an unspoken, sacred 'boundary'.

205506674

mapi said...

I believe in God as the maker of all things I believe in his son Jesus Christ. But at the same time i agknowledge the existince of ancistors, I do believe that they can affect our live in which ever way they choose,how ever this is only is we were 2 give them that power. this power is thru ritual that we do. The bible says in the book of axodos (i stand corected on the book bt @1 of the 1st 3 books of the old testement)do not eat anything with blood stil in it as like is in the blood. so when we slater a cow or wat eva it is by our coultures we in fact restor life to the dead & call then to being,the bible itself does say that all are alive 2 God & God does(in the bible) ask that his ppl do not consult with the spirits of the dead ( when they reach the promissed land as the ppl there do)which then means they can be consulted by the livein shud we choose to.

Anonymous said...

Over the last three years sociology has really taken to me. It has opened my eyes to a new level of thinking and made me aware of phenomena which i would have not noticed before, eg the chicago school's thory of how cities are formed and how they decay.

Sociology also allows me to think as an individual, and helps me to relate to how my daily encounters with people build up my understanding of society. It is these encounters that form part of our experiences, which plays a large role in determining how we would react in a certain situation.

Anonymous said...

i think that religion, culture, beliefs and our experiences in life does shape our views and perceptions about people and life in general. all these factors can either make us narrow minded or broad minded. our experiences in life shapes our behaviour. religion and culture on the other hand determines the way we live our lives here on earth. it determines the kind of people we associate ourselves with.

personally my experiences, religion, culture and beliefs have shaped my perceptions in life. i am a christian and i will obviously want to get married to a christian. i won't be doing it only for myself but also for my family becoz i don't think they will approve if i go and marry someone who is not religious. i know that i have to go to church and pray to god. i think that my experiences influence the way i judge other people and situations i find myself into.

N.B. SHUBE
206515950

Anonymous said...

the untagged message above NP Majola is Cherry, T 206503196

Anonymous said...

I find it very hard to go against my beliefs, as my beliefs are closely related to my culture,religion, and society, all of which determines myself as a person. I would view challenging my beliefs as going against the above 3 factors. Some of the characteristics of my culture include:
* respect and obedience towards my elders.

* going to the temple once a week

* strong family ties and bonds play a major role in my culture, as we constantly have to live up to the family name.

* traditional attire, clothing, and other cultural symbols...(Punjabis, sarees,brass ware)


R Moodley
206 500 578

Anonymous said...

I find that my culture, religion, family and community’s values, education and life experiences to date has, in essence and to different extents, shaped the person that I am today. The norms, ideals and beliefs of my culture, as well as the rituals pertaining to my religion were a big part of my life when I was a child. For us Hindu’s our culture is highly unique in terms of language, dress, food, music, written text, marriage, places of worship and deities. Also, prayer and worship form a big part of our lives. However, Hindu’s in South Africa are becoming increasingly westernized and forgetting what makes us Hindu in the first place. In terms of prayer they add extra rituals and tend to try and compete with one another when it comes to who has a grander wedding, or who bakes and buys the best sweetmeats during our holy day of Diwali, or discriminate against a Hindi person or a Tamil one. I have found that Hindu’s who proclaim to be extremely pious and who have large religious gatherings and functions, tend to be very vile people who have rotten thoughts and evil hearts. I’m not saying everyone who is highly religious is a bad person; it’s just what I have seen and what I have heard. These people use religion and culture as a smoke screen to cover up their despicable behavior and corrupted actions. Don’t get me wrong, I love my culture and religion, it’s just that a certain majority of Hindu’s today in South Africa are eroding and cheapening the beauty and majesty of Hinduism, be it through a lack of morals, ethics and a generally poor upbringing. I wouldn’t challenge the current Indian society’s cultural and religious activities because their materialistic and competitive nature is too far gone. I long for the days of my grandparents, when everything was so pure and uncorrupted. I will never abandon my deeply held beliefs because it essentially influences all my actions and makes me the good person I am today. Every culture and religion is unique, and has both positives and negatives. Whatever goodness we have in ourselves can be attributed to the beliefs instilled in us through our religion and culture and our parents, community and society who were influenced by various religions and cultures.

M Hemrajh
205516953