Another vision to the concept of culture: the Damaging of the Heritage

By: Souhail Arfaoui
The changes in the practices of young Tunisians have affected all regions of Tunisia. Culture becomes a fragmented culture marked by a highly evolved world economic order; hence a very strong preeminence of economic values, productivity and economic success.
Culture, while being a determining notion for the whole society, is changing through a process of development dictated by globalization, having a direct impact on the identity of young Tunisians who are divided between several identity references. Identity is an important concept in the analysis of the culture of young Tunisians and their daily lives. Technological progress has influenced their identity while being part of the development process. This changes the young people’s view of their culture and even participates in the “decomposition” of their cultural heritage. The emergence of the industry has accentuated the erosion of the sense of belonging to a culture and the depreciation of moral bonds. We talk about the birth of the rationalized individual and the inclusion of new elements in the system of culture. We speak of development which, as action, defines the degree of advancement of a country, and manifests itself in industrial progress. The term development characterizing the human environment is often used to refer to economic and social evolution but also social and cultural economic change in society. Our starting question is this: do young people today have the same identity referents as before?

The study of the relationship between the identity of young graduates in the urban environment to development presents several facets. This requires reflection on the plurality of identities of young people. The term identity raises the question of the relationship between the collective and the individual and encompasses the image and representation of the self as an individual product of an entire culture throughout history. In the contemporary world, we notice that some young people are far from having the same identity that unites them. Also, what makes this difference so obvious is the impoverishment of traditional culture in the region. This missing link between young people and their history is manifested in the break observed between individuals and their identity; however, young people make efforts through several socio-cultural practices and activities to build their own perception of identity. This break between identity and young people, and more precisely history and culture, gives rise to a need for affirmation in order to create an identity for oneself. The urban environment today is characterized by the loss of heritage, as a symbol and witness of the civilizations that have succeeded each other throughout history and forged the identity of the city. The cultural footprints that carved the city have been neglected and abandoned; which has distorted the identity of young people and pushed them to seek other ways to assert themselves and create their own worldview. The change invading the different spaces both public and private participation to modify the traditional culture touches the identity. The evolution of the urban world is due to a strong influence of the Western world; we notice a change in the structure; change as a new concept encompassing different demographic, economic and sociological developments. Different theoretical and sociological frameworks highlight the study of the city as a laboratory of social phenomena. This is the case of the works of R. Park who sees in the city a new society in connection with the social transformation is where the urbanized space is translated allowing this progressive transformation.[1]

Certainly, modern society has undergone transformations, especially in the urban environment, acting on the vision of young people and their culture. Today we end up with another form of society defined as a society in perpetual change; the latter is characterized by changes that affect virtually the entire society; we will see during this research, how the change affects the perception of young people living in an urban environment. In this respect, the Bourdieu model is mentioned where youth is defined by opposition to existing structures. In his book « Sociology in Question » [2]Bourdieu makes a distinction between young and old and represents them according to ideological categories and sees young people as adults for certain things. In an excerpt from an interview with Anne-Marie Métailié in “The Youth and the Work”, Pierre Bourdieu tries to define the word “Youth”, to frame it in everyday life, to give it a meaning as well as to explain the generation conflicts due to the important gap.[3] We approach the subject of the construction of identity and the perception of young people of changes; we approach this theme with other concepts that must elucidate research. Urban is perceived sociologically as a field of interaction and interculturality; which implies the return to different notions and schools that have marked the study of urban sociology. The subject of culture arises as a problem encompassing the identity of young people who find themselves in front of several mediatized cultures and diffused by different media technologies (television, Internet, advertising and others). Identity is a unity that allows us to recognize the self by characterizing it in relation to others. Young people are usually faced with several identity referents who tend to substitute for basic identity. Also, their relation to the space in which they evolve and live is also important in determining their own perception and makes it possible to identify the structure of this identity which is in perpetual transformation.


[2]Bourdieu Pierre, « Sociology in Question »,Céres èd, 1993


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