Larger Sociological Context

A New Movement: Cultural Creatives

Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, in their book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2000), describe the current state of cultural movements. Based on surveys and in-depths interviews, Ray and Anderson identify three main cultural movements that characterize our time:
1. Moderns (the cultural movement that started about 500 years ago),
2. Traditionals (the first countermovement against Modernism) and
3. Cultural Creatives (the other, more recent countermovement against Modernism, currently flowing together from a) the Consciousness Movement and b) the Social Movement that both started around 1960).

The new movement of Cultural Creatives shares the conviction that "a sense of personal worth, of meaning in life, is a fundamental human right that must be protected by our social institutions" (Ralph H. Turner "Ideology and Utopia After Socialism," in Enrique Larana, Hank Johnston, and Joseph R. Gusfield, New Social Movements, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994, pp. 79-81, 89-97, quoted from Ray and Anderson, see further down).

In their book Cultural Creatives, Ray and Anderson point out that at present, Cultural Creatives are not aware of the fact that they are part of a growing movement. The authors suggest that Cultural Creatives would benefit from recognizing that there are many like-minded people "out there," open for cooperation and mutual encouragement. Ray and Anderson indicate that old-fashioned Moderns, or "realists," will not necessarily prevail, but succumb to the new trend. The authors furthermore highlight that it is necessary for Cultural Creatives to develop innovative institutions in order to give the new movement more force and substance. HumanDHS is positioned at the core of this trend.

The following texts are quoted from Ray and Anderson (pages 204-228), with their kind permission:

Our sense of a general movement in the culture is supported by one of the senior sociologist who follows social movements. Ralph H. Turner argues that over the past generation a large general movement has unfolded in Western Europe that encompasses all of the new social movements' concerns. It includes the moral publics of these movements from stances that are both moral and practical. Turner believes that the conviction underlying all the new movements is that "a sense of personal worth, of meaning in life, is a fundamental human right that must be protected by our social institutions." (Ralph H. Turner, "Ideology and Utopia After Socialism," in Enrique Larana, Hank Johnston, and Joseph R. Gusfield, New Social Movements, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994, pp. 79-81, 89-97.) He explains how this conviction plays out in each case. The Ecologist, in particular, stress the need for humans to take their place in the natural order, "rather than as a race apart from and above nature." The peace and antinuclear movements and the assorted "slow growth" movements also embrace this view. The women's movement actively concerns itself with opportunities for self-fulfillment and human dignity, not only for women but for all people. Add to this the student movement's early articulation of personal worth and meaning, Turner concludes, and you have an impressive general movement for change in the culture.
In the face of corporate pressure…, the realist folds…. To be a "realist" in legislative politics and in all kinds of business and government bureaucracies worldwide means to make deals and to "go along to get along." It means to act as if every big problem could be isolated from every other one, parceled off and dealt with neatly. It means not "dragging in larger values" but containing the problem, throwing boundaries around it, and handling it with small extensions of exiting policy. A realist meets new problems with old formulas that reflect political deals and existing power arrangements. In totalitarian systems, everyone must become a realist or suffer dire consequences. The tougher the system, the more hard-bitten and cynical the realist.
When confronted by unprecedented new demands, most bureaucrats and practical politicians look for ways to avoid accommodating them: they contend that they don't have the authority to act, don't have the budget, don't have the legal basis, don't have the coalitions built, don't have the backup studies that justify action, don't have a consensus among contending parties, don't have agreement from the power blocs of industry and first world governments, and would face a torrent of criticism from their superiors if they met the demands.
People who call themselves realists say there simply are no other choices. Things are as they are for overwhelming reasons, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. In fact, the history of the West since the Marshall Plan after World War II has been a series of collapses of this position. Changes that were called "impossible" were made anyway, in spite of all the entrenched objections: the nuclear arms race was ended, environmental regulations and laws were passed, workplaces were made safer and healthier, and the full rainbow of human rights issues was addressed.
Today, as Core Cultural Creatives ... need something more basic: institutions that can support their values, so they do not have to create support structures for themselves over and over again. They need not only healers and practitioners of holistic medicine but colleges to train those practitioners; not only classes and courses, but teachers, and centers where they can take the classes. Sometimes it will not be healers or teachers that are needed but gathering places in which circles of people with common interests can explore new ways of knowing and sharing their gifts and experiences, experimenting over time. Where will the funds come from? And how will the people who want to meet one another make contact? Cultural Creatives need to be able to find one another through magazines and web portals and television channels that provide fair and honest mirrors and access points. And they need classes and institutes that will train new media people, and businesses that will support new programming. What is needed, in short, is a scaffolding for a new kind of culture.