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Why the Russians Are Who They Are



Unnamed (1)It is often said to be misplaced and inappropriate to use stereotypes when talking about people or entire nations. To do so is unfair to the wide diversity that exists among the individual citizens of any country over time or during any particular period of time. And this is no doubt true, but, nonetheless, there are such things as customs and traditions in society, and they do influence the character and qualities found among many of those who live under them.

In his valuable study of Tradition (1981), the University of Chicago sociologist, Edward Shils (1910-1995), explained that for any set of traditions to persevere in a society, it generally requires three overlapping generations:

“Tradition – that which is handed down – includes material objects, beliefs about all sorts of things, images of persons and events, practices and institutions . . . Traditions are not independently self-reproductive or self-elaborating. Only living, knowing, desiring human beings can enact them and reenact them and modify them . . . At a minimum, two transmissions over three generations are required for a pattern of belief or action to be considered a tradition.” (pp. 12, 14-15)

What the parent has taught the child, for instance, is then passed on by them to their own children in later years, as well as what may be shared directly by that young person’s grandparent as well. It links the past to the present, and then into the future through the children and grandchildren, who in turn will do the same when they become adults one day and pass on what they had learned and taken from their parents and grandparents.



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