Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Issue 1

Topic: To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities. 

As collective representation, society has its unique characteristics like individuals. And its distinctive ambiance vibrates in every aspect of people’s life. However, it is arguable whether it is necessary to visit all the major cities of a country to understand its culture. And I would like to articulate that from several perspectives.
Firstly, the characteristics of a society may not be preserved in major cities. For example, the culture in southern China is largely represented in small towns. By visiting major cities in southern China, one cannot get the full picture of Chinese culture. Similar condition exists in southern France, too. Therefore, major cities may not be an ideal sample to study a society. One can easily draw unilateral conclusion by neglecting cities that do not qualified for being a major city but significant in terms of culture preserving.  
Secondly, it is not necessary to visit all major cities if some of them have homogenous features. The life styles of different cities are not always the same. But in a rapid globalized and commercialized world, major cities that adopt to consumerism are identical in a large present. If two cities located in neighborhood, the chance for them being indistinguishable is higher. Therefore, it may not be necessary to visit every major city to understand the characteristic of a society. For example, even for cities of different countries but have similar histories can end up being culturally alike. Hong Kong and Singapore are comparable in many aspects since they were both British colonized trading hubs. If one plans to investigate a society in a more economical way, classifying typical types of cities of a society can be a recommendation.
Last but not least, the observation of characteristics may not be achieved merely by visiting major cities. Culture and philosophy of a society do not reflect superficially. It requires a longer and in detailed observation to figure out miscellaneous rituals and the rationales behind them. In that sense, visiting major cities may not be an effective way to understand a society comparing to research and read about its histories, geography and customs.
All in all, it is not necessary for one to visit all the major cities to understand the characteristics of a society, because major cities may not preserve a compete profile of culture; major cities can be identical; and it may not be sufficient to understand a society by merely visiting cities.

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