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Surface Culture: The Fundamentals of it




Surface Culture

The things your eyes, your hands, your ear can sense are surface culture. There can’t be a more simplified explanation of this. This seems easy to understand but without this, you can’t dive into the world of the deep culture.

Surface Culture Basics and Examples

Surface Culture

Surface Culture

To know someone you need to have a basic understanding of the things that you can sense with your sensory organs. For example, you are in a new place, there you encounter a completely new culture. First thing is that your sense of smell will open a gateway about the basics of the culture. Then your sense of sight will tell you about the way they behave and how they perceive the strangers. Your sense of hearing will make you judge their language. Your sense of taste then comes in and it will make you know about their traditions related to the taste buds of the mouth and the sound will tell you about everything there is and it is all that surface culture is all about.


Surface Culture


Food is an important element of the surface culture. The diet is different around the globe and every culture has a manner of eating that is solidified by patterns and cultural significance is deep-rooted in this. For example in the religions of the Muslims, Islam. There was no concept of lunch, it was a heavy breakfast and then in the evening they were supposed to have a light dinner, the lunch had no significance but as the religion spread and it was adopted by people of different cultures, the food habits or the food pattern changed dramatically. They took elements from Islam, like having dates as a nutrient source while having the concept of haram and halal being adopted by them but the surface cultural element, the pattern of eating food was unchanged and they have been eating lunch which was not originally part of Islam. This shows how strong the elements that make up the surface culture can be.


Surface Culture


The holidays around the globe aren’t the same, are they? They are celebrated at different times of the year and it shows the surface of the culture celebrating it. Thus if you want to grasp the basics of the culture you have to look at the traditional days where the people celebrate. For example in the Scottish culture, the Hogmanay is celebrated every year and it has certain elements that are only known to the Scotts and if you are an alien in their culture, it will get you a general idea about how they live or what this culture is all about. It will not aid you in deep analysis but will certainly be a key to unlock the door to a deeper understanding of the culture. The easy and in layman terminology, you can say surface culture is all about the surface of things.

These holidays are also influenced by acts of patriotism and religion. Patriotism is an important binding force and has been seen as a nation that gives a sense of belongingness to the people living in a culture. The culture of eid when seen from the scope of surface culture you will see people slaughtering poor animals and many activists around the globe are seen voicing their disapproval of this but this is a gateway of a big economic activity that generates economic activity of millions of rupees for a developing country like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Poor people who have never had meat the entire year are given a luxury that they can’t afford. From the surface of it, the portrayal of this religious observation by the Muslims is wrong but when you dig deep into it then the picture becomes clear.


Surface Culture

TV is the main source of art

Art is another element of the surface culture. It originates and is portrayed with respect to the historical appreciation it has been given in that culture. For example, you are in a new country and the first thing that will tell you about their surface culture is the television. The television triggers all sensory organs except the smell and the touch. The advertisements, the tv shows, the movies, and even the way the news is broadcasted can give you a faint idea about the culture you just arrived into.


Surface Culture


This is very interesting as it is mostly influenced by a history that is fictional or non-fictional. The main source to get to know about this component of the surface culture is the books or a storyteller, which of course will be very rare in today’s day and age. In the Indian culture, the passing of a black cat while you go out of home is considered a bad omen, but there is no scientific or religious backing for this. From this, we see how the traditions are held at a high place by the people from the Indian culture.


Surface Culture


The history in Afghanistan has played a major role in how people perceive them but they aren’t aware of how it has given them two perceptions of the same events in the confined borders that have been established virtually by the tensions between different cultures in this war-torn country. There have been the communist drive in Afghanistan, which is given high regard by the people from the north and they saw it as a happy time, for example, the Persians but the Pathans on the other hand have a liking for the time Mullah Omar and his Talibans had a stronghold over Afghanistan. The perception of history is an important ingredient of the surface culture and it can tell you where and how the emotions of the people of that culture lie and why they are integrated into their daily routine.


Surface Culture

A Dictator

They shape the whole culture of a place and the surface culture is highly influenced by this. In Pakistan, there was a time before Zia ul Haq, the Islamic radicalist and then there was time after and during his reign as the supreme dictator of the country. He brought a cultural shift, where Pakistan from a nation with the elements of secularism turned into a radical Islamic nation and till this day it haunts the progressive people of the country while the more reserved people are doing well. The surface culture of Pakistan will tell us how this personality has given rise to the rights of minorities, the women and the religious ones being taken away and acts of barbarism are taking place in the name of religion.

The bottom line

This was all about the surface culture and how it is the gateway to the deeper culture. It has many important aspects and a deep analysis of it will take you to a world where you will see the beliefs, the traditions, and the alien habits to you with a different lens.

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