Contemporary Culture and Youth

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Culture can be understood as a set of beliefs, values, practices and traditions followed by a particular group of people living together. It is passed on from one generation to the other, but still every generation brings subtle changes in the culture of a society. Thus, it would not be wrong to say that if we want to study the contemporary culture of a particular society then, we should attempt to analyze the trends of its youth. This is because as the people grow and age in a particular society, they leave their cultural legacy behind, putting the responsibility on the shoulders of its youth to carry forward that name and legacy. Youth in a given society can either carry forward that cultural legacy or break it. Change is gradual though. It takes several generations and efforts of several passionate adherents to a particular cause to bring about a significant change in society and its cultural practices. For instance, there was a time in India when ‘sati’ was a part of our cultural heritage but it took diligent efforts on the part of many reformers which could eventually help eliminate the brutal practice of sati. There are societies where the youth take it upon themselves to bring about a revolution and then, there are others where they think that what difference could one or two of them possibly make to the system. The thinking is somewhat pessimistic in the sense that they believe that if you make an effort to change the system, the system will change you; but what they probably forget here is that the system is also made up of people like you and me and if there is anyone who could make a difference then, its nobody else but us. I am not trying to provide a critique of a particular society here as both the aforementioned types are found in every society and are part of every culture. The world is, as we know, neither all black nor white but there are different shades of different colors found everywhere we look around. Good and bad, optimism and pessimism co-exist. Thus, with every generation there are some positives added some positives subtracted, some negatives gone and few others replacing them; and all of these come together to define the culture of a given society at a particular point in time. Culture, if viewed in this way, seems like an ever-changing dynamic concept but that exactly is what it is not. It is more or less stable over time. Keeping this thought in mind, I would like to conclude by stating that no doubt the youth of a given society can either be an asset or a liability to it, but the change is gradual and it takes several generations of like-minded people to be able to bring about any significant change in the culture of a society.

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