Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XIX: The Heritage Drive—Extending Legacy in Time

Essay XIX: The Heritage Drive—Extending Legacy in Time

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In traditional societies this function is often served by religious institutions, although preservation and reinforcement also may be in the hands of those who enforce the law (including the judicial system), by those who defend the society from external intrusion (the military), and even by outside influencers (those who monitor the media in highly repressive societies). In each of these societal roles we find Generativity Three, the preservation of that which currently exists.

The Tangible Culture

Over forty-five years, both of us have been involved as leaders, consultants, and coaches to various for-profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations. In each, we have discovered various subculture that often operate in opposition to one another (Bergquist, Guest and Rooney, 2004; Bergquist and Pawlak, 2005). In many instances, an old subculture has re-arisen or been resurrected in response to the emergence of a powerful new subculture. The past twenty years have repeatedly demonstrated the introduction of subcultures associated with new digital communication devices, the globalization of the world’s economy, and the many ways in which ancient religious and political ideologies have been challenged.

These new subcultures threaten existing norms, values and ways of operating in contemporary societies. And, they have led to the emergence of powerful counter cultures that often emphasize not just traditions but also tangibility. Just as the digital era has inaugurated a virtual subculture that has made the world flat, so a powerful reaction against this virtual subculture has led to the emergence of a tangible subculture that emphasizes place, history, tradition, and fundamental values.

The noted sociologist and social theorist, Talcott Parsons (Parsons and Bales, 1955), emphasized the importance of this subculture many years ago when he used a complex term, latent pattern maintenance, to describe the critical task to be performed in any viable social system that maintains often unacknowledged but highly influential patterns. These latent patterns are maintained through ceremony, preservation, honoring, and other Generativity Three acts that we describe later in this chapter.

We conclude that this critical societal function serves as a strong motivator for many Generativity Three actors. Much as the patterns that Generativity Three is seeking to maintain, the motivations behind these acts are often unknown to the generative actor and to the people with whom this actor engages. Somehow it just seems to be the “right thing to do” and is rarely guided by a reading of Parson’s dense and highly theoretical description of latent pattern maintenance. As the songwriter Irving Berlin would say, “It just comes naturally.”

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