Some Observations on the Dynamics of Traditions*

S. N. Eisenstadt
1969 Comparative Studies in Society and History  
SOME INTRODUCTORY CONCEPTS This paper is based on certain concepts about the nature of social and cultural order and traditions. We view social and cultural traditions, first, as the major ways of looking at the basic problems of social and cultural order, and of posing the major questions about them; second, as giving various possible answers to these problems; and, third, as the organization of institutional structures for implementing different types of solutions or answers to these
more » ... s to these problems. We assume that the search for answers-symbolic and institutional alike-to some of the major problems about the nature of human destiny, of the nature of social, cosmic, and cultural orders, of the possibility of some ordered social life, is an important ingredient in man's universe of desiderata, although it is not necessarily the most important one. This entails a reformulation of certain of the basic assumptions of sociology regarding the nature of the individual's orientation to the social order. It also redefines the nature of institutional loci of this orientation and the relation of these loci to the political sphere. The focus of this reformation is the recognition of the fact that social order is not just given by certain external forces imposed in some way on individuals and on their own wishes. Nor is it just an outcome of rational premeditated selfish evaluation of their interests or of the exigencies of the social and economic division of labour engendered by these interests. Some quest for social order, not only in organizational but also in symbolic terms, is among people's basic egotistical wishes or orientations. In other words, the people seek the 'good society', they want to participate in such an order. Their quest is a basic component in the whole panorama of social and cultural activities, orientations and goals. But it calls for rather special types of response, which tend to be located in distinct parts or aspects of the social structure.
doi:10.1017/s001041750000551x fatcat:537yust3rngipp6ivmbk5hpi7y