Modernity that has Become a Tradition

Gülin Öğüt Eker

Hacettepe Universitesi

Modernity that has Become a Tradition

47th Meeting of the PIAC, Cambridge 2004

Traditions, which have always been regarded worthy to mention only under the shade of modernity and have had a negative fame in social sciences, have always been subjct to almost all views ranging from the radical ones to moderate ones. Traditions, together with the concepts “traditional” and “traditionalist” have been retained in the archaism of history. They have also been accepted to be contrary to modernity and change. Moreover, they have always been regarded as conservative and out of date. In accordance with the determining powers of ideological centers, traditions have been considered to be the controlling mechanism in society and politics. In addition, they have been believed not to respond to the needs of modern society and people since they have always been together with rituals, static values and archaic patterns throughout history.

However, when the traditions of English diplomacy and royal traditions or the symbolic French tradition are in question, it is not true even to argue whether tradition or modernity is mentioned. Modernity does not mean to cut all the links with traditions. In fact, the most powerful views of history have been inspired by the most radical traditions. The process of interpretation and criticism of these two concepts makes it impossible to separate them from each other. The concept of modernization refers to the process of transferring modern criteria into the social and political values, which were formerly based on tradition. In the reforming process, instead of “being different”, modernizing societies are attached the interests of modern world together with the “utopia” of modern world.

Traditions are historical, political and social laws which determine and control the political life not taking human will into consideration. Traditions which are common historical heritage mean accepting the values such as moral associations, political and social culture.

Traditions, which consist of basic concepts such as religion, language, history culture and conscience of history, determining the way of modernization. During the process of modernization the necessity for being dependent on a common heritage to form both a new political power and a society in harmony with this modernization has made the countries intending to modernize to live a change with its traditions. As a result, traditions and the past have been preserved together. The assertion of modernization is certain to be refuted if it does not based on a historical base and heritage, and if it does not promise to keep the social order and national honor without a common conscience and culture. Modernization which is not based on traditions and which completely refuses traditions brings about historical and social estrangement ignoring the values such as history, culture, religion and language which keep the society together, which means that modernization has to “rewrite the history”. As a result, it is clear that modernization has to be “a tradition itself” or it has to “make up a new tradition”.

In our presentation, we will analyze the traditional samples which have been chosen from Turkish social life on the theoretical basis concerning tradition and modernity. The samples such as the functional aspect of the family, which is small as a social unit but the biggest one as a social power, the gap people feel because of the decreasing power of social relations and moral values, the social associations founded in big cities which help people from the same city and background to preserve the feeling of “belonging somewhere” and the activities of these associations, the Ottoman cuisine and other traditional foods served to privileged groups and formal foreign guests in modern restaurants popular in big cities, the Turkish fashion patterns which have highly influenced the world fashion will be analyzed and evaluated in the context of tradition and modernity.