The concepts of tradition and traditional values are frequently used in political and religious discourse to establish the legitimacy of a particular set of values. In the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the concept of tradition has been used to argue for the centrality and legitimacy of conservative religious values. Similarly, strands of orthodox theological thought from a number of world religions openly identify themselves as wanting a return to tradition. For example, the term ""traditionalist Catholic" refers to those, such as "Archbishop Lefebvre, who want the worship and practices of the church to be as they were before the "Second Vatican Council of 1962–65. Likewise, "Sunni Muslims are referred to as Ahlus Sunnah wa Al-Jamā‘ah ("Arabic: أهل السنة والجماعة), literally "people of the tradition [of "Muhammad] and the community", emphasizing their attachment to religious and cultural tradition.
More generally, tradition has been used as a way of determining the "political spectrum, with "right-wing parties having a stronger affinity to the ways of the past than "left-wing ones.["citation needed] Here, the concept of adherence tradition is embodied by the political philosophy of traditionalist conservatism (or simply traditionalism), which emphasizes the need for the principles of "natural law and transcendent moral order, "hierarchy and "organic unity, "agrarianism, "classicism and "high culture, and the intersecting spheres of loyalty. Traditionalists would therefore reject the notions of "individualism, liberalism, modernity, and "social progress, but promote cultural and educational renewal, and revive interest in the church, the family, the state and local community. This view has been criticised for including in its notion of tradition practices which are no longer considered to be desirable, for example, stereotypical views of the "place of women in domestic affairs.
In other societies, especially ones experiencing rapid social change, the idea of what is "traditional" may be widely contested, with different groups striving to establish their own values as the legitimate traditional ones. Defining and enacting traditions in some cases can be a means of building unity between subgroups in a diverse society; in other cases, tradition is a means of "othering and keeping groups distinct from one another.
In artistic discourse
In artistic contexts, in the performance of traditional genres (such as "traditional dance), adherence to traditional guidelines is of greater importance than performer's preferences. It is often the unchanging form of certain arts that leads to their perception as traditional. For artistic endeavors, tradition has been used as a contrast to "creativity, with traditional and "folk art associated with unoriginal imitation or repetition, in contrast to "fine art, which is valued for being original and unique. More recent philosophy of art, however, considers interaction with tradition as integral to the development of new artistic expression.
Relationship to other concepts
In the social sciences, tradition is often contrasted with modernity, particularly in terms of whole societies. This dichotomy is generally associated with a linear model of social change, in which societies progress from being traditional to being modern. Tradition-oriented societies have been characterized as valuing "filial piety, harmony and group welfare, stability, and "interdependence, while a society exhibiting modernity would value "individualism (with free will and choice), mobility, and progress." Another author discussing tradition in relationship to modernity, Anthony Giddens, sees tradition as something bound to ritual, where ritual guarantees the continuation of tradition. Gusfield and others, though, criticize this dichotomy as oversimplified, arguing that tradition is dynamic, heterogeneous, and coexists successfully with modernity even within individuals.
Tradition should be differentiated from customs, "conventions, laws, "norms, routines, rules and similar concepts. Whereas tradition is supposed to be invariable, they are seen as more flexible and subject to innovation and change. Whereas justification for tradition is "ideological, the justification for other similar concepts is more practical or technical. Over time, customs, routines, conventions, rules and such can evolve into traditions, but that usually requires that they stop having (primarily) a practical purpose. For example, wigs worn by lawyers were at first common and fashionable; "spurs worn by military officials were at first practical but now are both impractical and traditional.
Preservation of tradition
In many countries, concerted attempts are being made to preserve traditions that are at risk of being lost. A number of factors can exacerbate the loss of tradition, including industrialization, "globalization, and the "assimilation or "marginalization of specific cultural groups. Customary celebrations and lifestyles are among the traditions that are sought to be preserved. Likewise, the concept of tradition has been used to defend the preservation and reintroduction of minority languages such as "Cornish under the auspices of the "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Specifically, the charter holds that these languages "contribute to the maintenance and development of Europe's cultural wealth and traditions". The Charter goes on to call for "the use or adoption... of traditional and correct forms of place-names in regional or minority languages". Similarly, "UNESCO includes both "oral tradition" and "traditional manifestations" in its definition of a country's cultural properties and heritage. It therefore works to preserve tradition in countries such as Brazil.
In "Japan, certain artworks, structures, craft techniques and performing arts are considered by the Japanese government to be a precious legacy of the Japanese people, and are protected under the Japanese Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. This law also identifies people skilled at traditional arts as ""National Living Treasures", and encourages the preservation of their craft.
For native peoples like the "Māori in New Zealand, there is conflict between the fluid identity assumed as part of modern society and the traditional identity with the obligations that accompany it; the loss of language heightens the feeling of isolation and damages the ability to perpetuate tradition.
Traditional cultural expressions
The phrase "traditional cultural expressions" is used by the "World Intellectual Property Organization to refer to "any form of artistic and literary expression in which traditional culture and knowledge are embodied. They are transmitted from one generation to the next, and include handmade textiles, paintings, stories, legends, ceremonies, music, songs, rhythms and dance."
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