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Step # 1: Culture, Symbols, and the Strange Power of the ‘Evil Eye’

I have selected culture and symbol as a concept to exercise my sociological imagination coined by Herbert Blumer, who founded the symbolic interaction theory (Lectures, 2019a). Culture entails various aspects of social life that are shared by society though intangible and diverse. Elements such as communication, language, and beliefs, help to define a group as well as common material objects (Rydzewski, 2017). Although culture connects and informs any particular society, the economic aspect and social structure may have differences (Lectures, 2019b). Culture is significant in shaping relationships, creating social order, experiences as well and actions. Further, the population’s understanding, prospects, assumptions, and common sense add to the cultural components. Additionally, culture involves moral that governs the society as well as rules, laws, norms, and expressive symbols (lecturer, 2019b).

Symbols are objects though without a meaningful relationship represent abstracts. Individuals in a particular society exemplify various aspects such as spirituality and interest through the use of symbols. A group uses symbols to inform meanings and shared systems in a specific culture (lecture, 2019). Further, human beings are born with the capacity to use language symbolically through encoding and communicating with one another. Additionally, symbols are learned or taught to help biologically unrelated people connect as well as communicate (Lectures, 2019a).

The symbolic interaction theory contains the following underlying assumptions. The first assumption informs that the meaning attributed to a thing influences human interaction. The second assumption enlightens that, individual interaction with the society and other population provide sense to various things (Rydzewski, 2017. Further, the last assumption exemplifies that, dealing with specific things enhances clear interpretations of different items in particular circumstances (Lectures, 2019a). The behavior of a society, actions, material objects, and way of life exemplify a society’s culture. Further symbols are an essential aspect of individual life since they make up a distinctive culture such as language, norms, beliefs, and values. Moreover, the assumption that culture has a relationship with symbols, can also take up different dynamics (Lectures, 2019a).

Step # 2: The Strange Power of the ‘Evil Eye.’

To exercise my imagination about culture and symbols, I have chosen the imagery mythical in the mass media that integrates people’s culture and use of symbols (Lecturer, 2019b). According to Fredrick Thomas Elworthy’s evil eye legend, superstition explores the various meanings of the eye symbol in a different cultures. Elworthy enlightens that the evil eyes symbol in every culture connects to a legend. The folktales for the Irish culture inform that men have an evil stare capable of putting horses to death instantly after a single stare. Further, the Greek gorgons have petrifying stares as exemplified by Elwothy’s (Elworthy, 1895). Although the evil eye symbol has a potential pagan connotation, it is profoundly rooted in various cultures, surprisingly included in the Bible and Koran. The evil eye has gained the support of philosophers with the suggestion that young children and animals have the possibility of being killed by the invisible array of energy and power coming from a human eye. Further, the philosopher adds that specific people from the south of the black sea possess an exceptional ability to fascinate others using their evil eyes (Elworthy, 1895). Additionally, the generic rarity in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the philosopher, provides blue-eyed people with the ability to curse others using their eyes (Elworthy, 1895).

Elworthy further, explains that, although people with evil eyes have the capability of harming others in society and beyond, not all individuals with evil eyes are happy and contend that, their eyes are inflicting unintended harm in the community. According to the archaic Polish folktale, as reported by Elworthy, an individual decided to remove an evil eye that was perceived to cause harm to his loved ones. Consequently, the firm belief in the existence of evil eyes made the society come up with the Nazar amulet to prevent misfortune from evil eye gaze. The charm was first excavated with incised eyes in Mesopotamia’s old town, though in an abstract alabaster idol. Additionally, other cultures followed suit in an attempt to deal with perceived evil eyes by coming up with various improvements such as glass production by the Asians, and glazed mud by Egyptians among others (Elworthy, 1895).

Although the evil eye was an ancient perception, the current generation still engraves the evil eye symbol in things are aeroplanes. Consequently, the evil eye symbol is still a deep-rooted culture in Turkey as a way of protecting the newborn from curses. Further, countries that hold sacred places in Judaism and Islam still use the evil eye in their fashion, arousing varied fears of cultural appropriation (Elworthy, 1895). Additionally, famous stars are also embracing evil eye symbols as cultural heritage in their fashion. Consequently, Elwothy asserts that, since the evil eye has the possibility of surpassing cultural, geographical, and religious as the population embraces it in style, it is of paramount importance to evaluate past beliefs before adopting the culture (Lecturer, 2019b).

Step # 3: Analysis

The ability to think on micro and macro levels of sociological imagination is a concept attributed to C. Wright Mills (Scott & Nilsen, 2013). According to Mills, our personal experiences and troubles perception in connection with social issues. Therefore, social reproduction helps to expand the concept of culture and symbols (Lecture, 2019d). Social reproduction entails maintaining our place in the social hierarchy through learning. Teaching children to sustain culture and beliefs, which were initially termed barbaric leads to social reproduction (Lectures, 2019b). Society instills values and beliefs in their children to embrace for the continuity of the community and culture. Further, whatever the mass media promote regardless of the platform employed entices the population to adopt to maintain their social hierarchy in the society (Lectures, 2019b).

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Since culture brings connected people together during the performance of specific rituals. Further, the peer group utilizes those opportunities to reinforce particular values and beliefs for continuity. Further social reproduction exemplifies that, the difference that exists in socialization demonstrates the gap that exists in society. Therefore, the different meanings people harbor on various cultural aspects inform their actions. The things that a community participates in doing together in their daily life include the things they believe in, value, and know (Lecture, 2019c Although some beliefs that were initially practiced based on the culture in the past centuries have been rendered meaningless, other culture still practices because of value attached to the practice. The findings exemplify the relationship that exists between culture, symbols, and mass media (Lectures, 2019c). Moreover, the symbolic interaction perspective reinforces that, an individual’s interaction with society enhances the meaning of specific things (Lectures, 2019b).

Step # 3 Personal Troubles Associated with Evil Eye Symbol

Personal troubles that concern the self and private are the first dimension (Lectures, 2019d). The evil eye culture started as an ocular amulet meant to deal with the problems associated with malicious or envious glare. Subsequently, instead of helping to provide a solution, the masses adopted the ocular to come up with an evil eye symbol. The people believed that great success attracts the envy of people with evil eyes. According to Heliodorus, the evil eye has the capability of destroying the people as well as the surrounding environment. Consequently, an irrational belief from an individual resulted in the creation of a deep-rooted culture that people practice even in sacred places (Lectures, 2019b).

Step # 3b: Public Issues of Cultural Symbolic Interaction

The social interactionist perspective enlightens that, an individual subjective interpretation of symbols, informs their action due to the meaning they attach to the symbols. Although the evil eyes get attributed to misfortune, the mass media has made the symbol more popular than before. Countries’ famous stars use the symbols in their historic building as well as in the fashion industry. Further, comic works are engraving the symbol on the pages of books (Lectures, 2019d).

Public issues pose a possible threat to public value (Lectures, 2019d). Some cultures have attached great value to the evil eye symbol, particularly in the protection of young children from curses. Further, as social interactionist theorists, enlightened that, there is a possibility of culture crossing geographical and religious boundaries, the mass media has played a crucial role in making the symbol an acceptable cultural practice in many societies across the world.

Moreover, there is a tutorial offered to the public on different ways to make evil eye ornament through online platforms (Lecturer, 2019b).

Step # 3c: Questions Required of the Sociological Imagination

The sociological imagination asks three questions, that is symbols and everyday cultural practices, the interaction of people in the society, and the meaning of symbols from a cultural perspective (Lectures. 2019d). Consequently, the last question of the sociological imagination addresses the relationship between personal and public issues. The symbols are an essential aspect of culture since they contribute to the creation of norms, beliefs, as well as various practices. Further, society uses symbols to communicate or provide an interpretation; thus, the difference between culture and symbol is blurred (Lecturer, 2019a).

Step # 4: Action

Since culture entails shared group values as well as common objects and materials shared during rituals, it is challenging to change a society’s culture. Despite Elworth’s description of the evil eye as a fantasy centuries ago, the mass media has influenced the popularity of meaningless superstition. Although some cultures dread association with an evil eye, some societies strive to pass the practice from one generation to another for continuity. Further, since culture is made up of various people who are distinct in terms of economic and social structure, the economically capable are selling to the masses superstitions branded as evil eyes with power to protect from the evil gaze. According to George Herbert, an individual mind and ego are shaped by society. Further, symbols are a means for communication and thinking as well as the shaping of an individual’s mind.

Moreover, the mass media has made it possible for different people with varied cultures to interact regardless of the cultural affliction, hence making it possible for a superstitious culture to thrive due to boundary erosion. Irrespective of the value attributed to some cultural practice, society should evaluate as well as analyze the meaning before passing it to other generations. Further, society needs enlightenment on the dangers of embracing popular culture without ascertaining its meaning. The government may still play a key role in educating the community on the implications of superstitious cultural beliefs and practices.

References

    1. Aksan, N., Kısac, B., Aydın, M., & Demirbuken, S. (2009). Symbolic interaction theory. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 902-904.
    2. Elworthy, F. T. (1895). The evil eye: the origins and practices of superstition. University Books/Citadel Press.
    3. Gerber, L. & Macionis, J. J. (2015). Society. In Dr. K. Eisler (Comp.), Pearson Custom Sociology with Readings from the Intersections Collection (pp. 247-72). Vancouver, BC: Langara College. (Reprinted from Chapter 4 of Sociology by Gerber, L. & Macionis, J. J., 8th ed., 2014, Pearson Canada Inc.)
    4. Lectures. 2019a. “Sociology 1120: Section symbolic interaction theory Perspective on Culture: Culture.’ Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
    5. Lectures. 2019b. “Sociology 1120: Section on symbolic interaction theory Perspective on symbolic.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
    6. Lectures. 2019c. “Sociology 1120: Section on symbolic interaction theory Perspective on culture Can’t.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
    7. Lectures. 2019d. “Sociology 1120: Section on the Sociological Imagination and C. Wright Mills.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
    8. Lectures. 2019e. “Sociology 1120: Section on Culture.” Langara. The College of Higher Learning. Vancouver, B.C.
    9. Scott, J. & Nilsen, A. (2013). C. Wright Mills and the sociological imagination: contemporary perspectives. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
    10. Rydzewski, S. (2017). Introduction to Sociology 2E. Place of publication not identified: 12th Media Services.

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