Towards a 'structural' theory of cultural change
How do infrastructures affect the way we look and interact with the world? How do they affect our culture, in the broadest term of the word? Daniel Headrick offers an insightful suggestion when he wrote that, in spite of the original enthusiasm that existed for damns, these eventually meld into the landscape, to become an ignored part of the general environment. We may enhance this interesting notion to look at how the structures which exist in our world, shape our interaction with it, and our general presumptions. We might, for example, take the case of housing. Houses that are made out of wood need constant repair. They are subject to all sorts of insect infestations, or the decay of paint which plays such an important part in its preservation. Hence, wooden houses ingrain on the individual a notion of 'attention', of the need to always be active, therefore encouraging a pattern of activity whose repeat pattern has a relatively short cycle, say 1 year. Concrete houses, on the other hand, tend to naturally last much longer. While they degrade and decay, as all houses do, they do so on a much slower rate, and over a much longer period. Hence, concrete constructions, generally speaking, tend to discourage the 'fixing' pattern of activity, generally inducing a mentality which takes the existing infrastructure as one that is ever present and eternal--hence tending to work against a pattern of proactive and attentive behavior that tends to be present in the owners of 'wooden houses. We might thus suggest that the materials out of which is made the home--the place in which individuals tend to have a great deal of interaction with throughout their lives--has a background impact on the way the look and interact with the world. We might extend this observation to a number of other instances to analyze how the changes which humans impose on their 'environment' (man-made or otherwise), slowly and gradually influence the basic foundations of their world-view.