Singapore’s Culture and People

Culture consists of any characteristic or pattern of attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors that is shared by members of a society/population. Look around and notice everyone is a part of or identifies with a culture; whether it be a more obvious culture, such as Christianity, or something more subtle, like a generation of people. Being included in a culture builds a foundation of already shared beliefs and customs, playing a huge role in making a person who they are. For instance, Singapore’s strict customs influences its population to restrict their identity as to abide by the culture, puts lots of pressure on excelling in academics without taking individual needs or interests into account, and forms societal norms and values for an individual.

Children are taught culture and traditions through their parents, or perhaps their school, from adolescence. This ensures the continuation of certain beliefs or values taught in culture. This recycled thinking prevents newer thinking; therefore, disallowing the freedom to explore or question ideals or concepts. No growth can be made when people are prone to conformity rather than curiosity. It can also affect the willingness of an individual to accept any newer thinking and incorporating it into their life, ultimately limiting a person’s knowledge and preventing any possible expansion.

Culture creates a shared identity for people, modifying their values and preferences for collective choice and essentially social cohesion. According to sociologists, the definition of a society are, “People who interact in such a way as to share a common culture” (CliffsNotes). So essentially, there’s a cultural bond that can make people desire to be included in that bond; hence, the tendency most people have to conform to the majority/society. Another factor that influences Singapore’s population into abiding by its customs are the extremely strict, and perhaps sometimes irrational, formal sanctions. For example, the death penalty and caning are both applicable punishments for someone who has been charged for smuggling drugs. There are CCTV cameras all over the place as well, instilling a particular reluctance to challenging any figures of authority or officials. In turn, the crime rate is low and the government is extremely efficient in getting things done; however, these cruel punishments and lack of privacy can also restrict the general public and give people no option but to abide by these customs.

Singapore is very encouraging when it comes to education in which can both be a good and bad thing. Good because expansion of knowledge is always beneficial, the more an individual knows about something the more of an advantage they have; however, bad because it doesn’t take into account any outliers that may be interested in other fields, such as music, etc. The educational system also doesn’t provide much modification for people who perhaps aren’t as academically inclined as others. This academically rigorous system can potentially strip a child of their identity before they even fully figure out who that might be. Singapore’s economic and political stability are considered a part of their national culture referred to as kiasu, which means “afraid to lose” and refers to the desire of being the best. Matter of fact, “Some say kiasu keeps standards high, but others claim it leads to a graceless society” (Every Culture). The intense focus on education makes it so that the only way to ensure a path to good positions with good wages is either based off a person’s education or influential class.

Due to the high expectations Singaporeans hold for themselves, people tend to judge each other based off their status. People who are socially superior or maintain a position of authority are addressed with formality as well as respect. For example, older people are typically treated with respect, however, wealth and status can override such age distinctions. This then shapes primarily materialistic values to be prevalent in the population. The Random House College Dictionary defines materialism as “attention to or emphasis on material objects, needs, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual values” (Random House College Dictionary). This allows possessions to assume a primary role in a person’s life and provides something tangible to compare an individual’s success and satisfaction to, in which can potentially be problematic or unfulfilling. This leads to a more objective way of measuring the quality of life based on indicators such as per income or years of schooling for Singaporeans. This way of thinking could be very unfulfilling for it’s hard to maintain and lacks consistency because there is potentially no limit, resulting in a too much isn’t enough kind of outlook. Singaporeans also value selflessness of each citizen to abide by society. For example, “Nation before community and society above self” (IOR). Perhaps this implies the sacrifice of individuality or even identity in order to conform to being successful according to the Singaporean societal standard, and resulting in nationwide efficiency.


Culture has a huge influence on society and almost acts like a declaration of the standard or norm that should be followed. Conformity, as a natural human reaction, then occurs to result in social cohesion. Singapore’s strict customs influences its population to restrict their identity as to abide by the culture, puts lots of pressure on excelling in academics without taking individual needs or interests into account, and forms societal norms and values for an individual. So Singapore’s culture would be the idolizing of success based off education or more materialistic themed concepts. This type of society tends to be quite exclusive and less susceptible to outliers or exceptions. Strict customs ultimately restrict a sense of identity or individuality. The culture has its pros in efficiency, yet the cons and tight restriction seem to outweigh when pertaining to the individual rather than the society as a whole.

Works Cited

  1. Council of Europe. “Socio-Economic Impact of Culture – Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe.” Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe – European Culture Policy Database, Cultural Policies & Trends, 2018,
  2. “Culture and Society Defined.” What Is Anatomy and Physiology?, Cliffs Notes, 2016,
  3. “Local Customs and Culture in Singapore.” The Chinese Education System InterNations,
  4. “Singapore.” Countries and Their Cultures, Every Culture, 2018, “Singapore.” IOR, 2018,
  5. Wirtz, Jochen. “The Influence of Materialistic Inclination on Values, Life Satisfaction, and Aspirations: An Empirical Analysis.” Research Gate, 5 Nov. 2014.
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Singapore’s Culture and People. (2021, Oct 12). Retrieved October 27, 2021 , from

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