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Legal System and Society:Define tradition and custom and bring out clearly their importance in social control.

Legal System and Society(BA LLB)

Define tradition and custom and bring out clearly their importance in social control.


Tradition-Its meaning and definition. One important aspect of human life is social heritage. This is the sum total of the circumstances that the individual gets from his parents and other elders of the society. This social heritage is very much helpful in the fulfillment of the needs and the requirements of the individuals. The way he gets food, the way he puts on his dress, the way he lives in society are a part of the social heritage. Tradition is an important part of Social Heritage.

Social Heritage is a far wider and comprehensive term and tradition, as compared to social heritage, is quite limited in its cope and less important also. Social heritage includes material as well as non-material things. But in traditions, we have the habits, the ideas, and other allied matters. Traditions in that case are ways of behavior. It does not include material achievements. These qualities and characteristics, of tradition, have been defined by different social thinkers in different ways. Given below are a few of these definitions-
(1) Tradition as defined by Ginsburg “By tradition is meant the sum of all the ideas, habits and customs that belong to people and are transmitted from generation to generation.”

(2) Tradition as defined by James Draver: “Tradition is a body of law, custom, story and myth transmitted or headed down orally from one generation to another”

Importance of tradition in social life- Traditions are very much important in our social life. They not only influence our social behavior but also our social thinking. The importance of traditions of the society may be studied under the following heads –

(a) Simplifies the behavior- We have already seen that traditions provide ready-made patterns of behavior. Through the process of socialization, these patterns are available to the individuals. Individuals members of the society apply these ready-made patterns of different social conditions and solve their problems and bring out social adjustment. These conditions bring out a simplification of the behaviors,

(b) Development of the sense of security- Traditions are tasted ways of behavior. They have been inherited from the past generation and their usefulness and correctness have been verified. Since they are accepted as correct standards of behavior they inculcate a sense of security among the members of the society.

(c) Uniform behavior pattern- Traditions are uniformly inherited by individuals. They, therefore, bring out uniformity in the behavior pattern of the members of the society.

(d) Regulate the behavior of the individuals- Traditions enjoy social sanction and they, therefore, compel the individuals to behave in a particular manner. Those who do not behave according to the sanctioned pattern of the traditions are punished and blamed for it. That is why they control and regulate the behavior pattern of individuals.

(e) Helpful in solving the new problems and meeting the new situation and difficulties comparatively more successfully easily- Through traditions, it is possible to meet the new situations, solve new problems and face the new difficulties comparatively in a more successful and easy manner. The traditions provide past knowledge and on the basis of past knowledge, it is possible to solve new situations more easily. Mac Dugall has given great importance to traditions from this point of view.

(f) Contributions to the development of the feeling of nationalism and national patterns- According to Ginsburg, traditions are very much responsible for the development of a feeling nationally amongst the individual members of the society. They also contribute towards the development of national patterns. It is seen that generally, the countries that have high traditions are able to make good progress. Rich traditions of India have been kept high in many ways. Different Sociologists and psychologists have carried out various experiments in this regard.

Customs- Customs are nothing but accepted and common ways of acting. They are very much responsible for the maintenance of social values and objectives. Traditions, as a result of transference from one generation to the other, get strengthened by the new generations. These strengthened Traditions are called ‘Customs’.

Meaning and Definition- Customs is part of the Traditions. The term ‘Custom’ has been defined by different Sociologists and Psychologists in different ways. Ross has defined the Custom in the following words –
“By custom is meant the transmission of a way of doing; by tradition is meant the transmission of a way of thinking or believing.”
Bogardus has defined Custom in the following term-
“Customs are group accepted techniques of control that have become well established, they are taken for granted and they are passed along from generation to generation.”
Characteristics of Customs- Customs, on the basis of the definition given above and certain other traditions, have the following characteristics or qualities –

(1) Social base- Customs are formed spontaneously because of society. They are a part of the social inheritance and are not formed by individuals.

(2) They are transmitted from one generation to another- Customs. are transmitted from one generation to another. They are followed by individuals because many individuals or groups of individuals have followed them.

(3) Customs are traditions that have withstood the test of time- Customs are the traditions that have been prevalent for several generations of having been strengthened because of the experience of the generation.

(4) Conservative- Customs are conservative and it is not easy to change them.

(5) No organized machinery to punish the evolution of custom- Society does not possess organized and effective machinery to punish the evolution of custom.

(6) More effective to regulate the behavior of individuals as compared to traditions- Custom influence the behavior of the individuals from birth to death. They have a great capacity to influence the behavior of the individuals more effectively and in a more comprehensive manner as compared to traditions.

Difference between Custom and Habit-Ginsburg has thought it necessary to distinguish between Habit and Customs to bring out the characteristics of the custom more clearly. From the point of view of Psychology, the custom is very much like a habit. But there are basic differences between the two. Custom is guided by a social norm and there is the clement of compulsion in it. But this is not so in regard to habit.

Customs and fashion-Ginsburg have also thought it necessary to differentiate between custom and Fashion. Sometimes the two are confused as one. But there is a Basic difference between the two. In regard to Fashion, there is only a temporary uniformity. One individual acts according to the other only because in the present or for the time beings others are acting so. But in regard to Custom, there is gradual uniformity. The uniformity in the behavior pattern of the individual members of the society under the influence of custom grows gradually.

Origin of Custom- A custom does not grow all of a sudden. It is a result of gradual development and takes a good idea of the time. In, fact, it is a means to strengthen the existence and the values of society.

Folkways grow into traditions and the traditions grow into customs- It is based on pst. The following lines from Hobhouse clarify the position further ….. “opinions or judgments radiate from individuals center, infringe on the opinion of others, clash with or reinforce them, modify or are modified by them, and eventually out of the clash of the ideas and influences their merits – a more or less stable opinion or judgment which will henceforth act as an influence to mold the ideas of other men.”

Role or importance of Custom in society or social behavior- Customs influence individual behavior as well as social behavior. Customs occupy an important place in society. They influence society in the following ways-

(1) Simplify. the process of learning- Customs provide ready-made patterns of behavior and so the process of the learning of the individual becomes simplified.

(2) Make social adjustments easier- Through the ready-made Pattern of behavior, it is easy for individual members, to establish adjustment with the social situations or meet the new social situations in an easier manner.

(3) Social utility or usefulness- Customs have a social utility. Although they are not based on logic and reason, they are helpful in the integration and maintenance of society and its values.

(4) Bring about uniformity in social life and behavior- Through customs elements of uniformity are introduced in the social behavior of the individual as members of the society.

(5) Important agencies of social control- Customs control the behavior of the individuals. They force them to act according to the prescribed patterns. They do not allow individuals to go astray. Thus these customs act as important agencies of controlling the behavior of the individual members of the society and also the collective behavior of the society.

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