The wider cultural system such as Indian culture, for example, consists of many smaller cultural subsystems which are heterogeneous. Sciences and technologies, several dialects, several forms of religion, ideologies, kinship patterns, and economic institutions, these and many other components are found in the Indian culture. To what extent all these and various other components make up the Indian cultural system is a pertinent question here.
One thing is certain that such components of a culture do not form as coherent a system as we find it in the case of physics, or in any established language. “The coherence of a culture is ‘never’ complete and it cannot be analysed apart from the interaction system”.
Incompatible values and beliefs do co-exist peacefully in the same society. According to H.M. Johnson, several factors are responsible for that. Among them, the following may be noted.
1. The potentially conflicting values are often reconciled through. What is known as “hierarchisation”! It means people tend to place values in the form of hierarchy in which ‘dominant’ values take precedence over secondary values in normal situations.
2. Most of the societies have ‘safety-values’ in the form of secondary institutions which help them to get released their anxiety in more or less a controlled manner. Secondary institutions often shade over into near deviant patterns. The practice of prostitution is an example here.
3. Incompatible values and beliefs can exist peacefully by means of insulation also. Insulation is a technique which makes it possible to apply different values and beliefs to different times and situations. Or, a given actor may carry out different social roles to express different values and beliefs to avoid conflicts.
4. It is true that different religious groups within the society hold mutually incompatible beliefs or values. For example, Hindus consider cow as sacred animal and worship it whereas Muslims and Christians practice beef-eating.
Hindus are idol-worshippers and Muslims dislike and condemn idolatry, and so on. In spite of this incompatibility such religious groups hold some values – such as religious tolerance, human welfare, etc., which permit them to get along with each other. Such values even help them to cooperate among themselves within limits.
5. Cultural ‘middlemen’ may help reduce incompatibility of values. Some persons, or so-called ‘middlemen’ who hold different values and beliefs and whose cultural equipment or outlook is more flexible, may help to mediate the contacts between the incompatible groups.
It is of be noted that ‘coherence’ and ‘system’ are relative concepts. What appears to be coherent at one time turns out to be incoherent at another time in the same system. Further, the factor that helps ‘coherence’ or ‘compatibility’ in one system may hinder the same in another.
Similarly, it is not only possible for social arrangements to mitigate cultural diversity, but also possible to intensify it: The British in India for example, followed the policy of ‘divide and rule’ to intensify the incompatibility between the Hindus and Muslims.
Further, it would be wrong to assure that any element of culture can cohere provided social arrangements are made for that. We observe, for example, the coexistence of two religions (for example Hinduism and Islam) at best creates a problem of integration.
Moreover, the different parts of culture (such as religion and science, science and politices, economy and education, religion and political institution, etc.) are interrelated on the purely cultural level. It means they are interrelated at the level of ideas and values, each part influencing the other, some helping and some others hindering.
Culture is dynamic by itself. If undergoes change relating to the changing needs and experiences of successive generations. In fact, no element of culture is transmitted with absolutely any change from a parent to a child. Hence a number of changes take place from one generation to the next. The integration of a culture is not necessarily affected by the historical origin of its various items.