Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rules

My Second Saturday Book Club met this morning to discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett. One of the things that I love about our book club is that we use each book to launch discussions about the important things in life. We never know where we are going to end up. And I love that.

I already summarized the book & my impression in a previous post. Part of our discussion today was about culture and rules imposed by culture. And while we all agreed that the social rules that were in place in the setting of the book were frightening and sad, one of my friends boldly suggested that our current culture has very few explicit rules and because of this, it can be really confusing. We agreed that while we like some of the freedom that the loosening of social rules affords, there is a certain element of insecurity that comes along with it. From table manners, to attire, to gender roles, to conflict in friendship, to how you speak to your mother, to neighborly visits and other social interactions, we no longer know the rules and don't know how we are to behave.

We tried to define what some of our cultural rules are...and found it really difficult. We talked about how we have different micro-cultures...the culture of our particular group of friends, the culture of Charlotte, the culture of the South, the culture of America. I love to explore the idea of culture & social norms (hence my sociology degree), yet I find it fascinating how difficult it can be to clearly see your own cultural context. We weren't able to name what our cultural rules are, but I know they exist.

So, I'm curious. What do you think our society's rules are? Do you think a lack of rules promotes cultural confusion? Are there things that you miss from a time when the rules were more clearly defined and social expectations were more explicit? Do you think that ill-defined cultural rules contribute to a sense of isolation? What rules might make our lives feel more secure?

1 comment:

  1. On a somewhat superficial level (that actually is not so superficial when analyzed): people no longer sense the social rule of stopping for a funeral. And when you do, others behind angrily honk as they drive past you with their finger out the window. This is but one of many examples where the loss of the common courtesy "rule" gives our culture a sense of entitlement and selfishness.

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