Cultural Conservatism

One area I was reading into not long ago was about the difference between cultural liberals and cultural conservatives: the former advocating cultural growth through individual freedoms, the latter through traditions and standards. Because I lean more towards liberalism on the cultural spectrum, I’m already aware of why I lean that way, but what goes on in the mind of a cultural conservative? Why do they feel that culture should be bound by rules and standards, and why do they see liberal attitudes as a threat?

I’m no psychologist, but I do have theories.

Blue_flag_waving.svgPicture this: you’re down the pub with your friends. Everyone in your circle has a number of shared interests, opinions and attitudes so the conversation (and the booze) flows nicely. It’s all very comfortable and familiar. A week later, you’re invited to a barbecue hosted by one of your partner’s colleagues. Now you’re in amongst a circle of people you know nothing about. They will likely have different personalities and behaviours to your usual circle of friends, you begin to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and so up go your defences. It would be so much easier if your wife’s colleagues were a lot like you and your friends.

In my opinion, those who are culturally conservative depend on culture being stable, secure and predictable in order to feel comfortable, included and valued. Both conservatives and liberals alike seek “the easy life”, but merely have different methods: a liberal achieves this through adopting a relaxed attitude towards culture and is not easily stressed or threatened by anything they don’t understand; a conservative, on the other hand, achieves this by advocating a collective identity free of shocks and surprises.

So, to cross-reference my previous post, those who believed that men were progressively being emasculated show signs of having some dependency on a collective identity, a standard “masculine” identity they feel is slowly being eroded away, and will eventually leave them detached and alienated. You see similar opinions whenever the topic of immigration is raised, where conservatives believe that their national identity is being diluted by an influx of outside influences. This may sound a bit daft, but I do actually feel sorry for those who are so strongly cultural-conservative. It’s like they live each day of their lives in fear or suspicion of anything that’s different – they need that strong and stable communal identity to cover over the insecurities in their own, individual identity. Those who feel immigrants are a threat to British culture probably aren’t all that strong in their own cultural identity if it can be shaken so easily. Likewise, those that feel Mantyhose are a threat to masculinity can’t be all that secure in their own masculinity.

If you feel that somebody from a different culture to your own poses a threat to you, there is one word you can use to neutralise that threat.



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