The Influence of Totems in the Modern World
1. Introduction
The subject of totems altogether has advanced and expanded, and has become a significant territory of interest in the field of human sciences globally. There are various approaches to deal with understanding totems in their social and cultural setting, and there has been developing interest in analyzing their part in the modern world. This article contributes to these academic conversations by investigating the roles and uses of totems in modern society. In particular, it reviews the meaning, origins, and essentialities of totems in different cultures and examines how these social phenomena have advanced over time. The modern world in which totems are found is set apart by fast social change, globalization, and technological improvements. It is noticed that totems have also developed into new forms, like national and ideological symbols, due to the rise of the national state and political developments. Some existing theories in the sociology of culture recommend that totems may, as time goes on, lose their essential cultural meanings as they become more and more embedded into everyday life. For instance, in advanced technological societies in which there is a high division of labor and specific skill sets are required for different facets of social life, it might be the case that the everyday commonality included in totems becomes lost. Research Paper Writing Service: Professional Help in Research Projects for Students – One more method of understanding the modernity of totems is to approach them from the general theory of technology. This perspective takes a look at the change of culture and social associations with regards to new technologies and efficiencies. In suggesting that totems in the modern world have proceeded onward from primary symbols that are inseparable from social and cultural life, and have become instruments for social power, this may be seen as a technological advance in how things are used in social practices and informed codes of conduct.
1.1. Definition and Origins of Totems
The concept of a totem can be found in many cultures. The word “totem” is derived from the Ojibwe language, native to the northern U.S. and eastern Canada, where it describes an entity that embodies the spiritual emblem of a family or clan. In Western societies, our traditional understanding of totem comes from the practices of Native Americans in the 19th century. With the use of the term and spread of the concept by colonial anthropologists and writers, the modern understanding has its origins in the work of Western academics. A dictionary definition of totem is “a natural object or animal believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem”. This object or animal, the totem, is believed to have a connection to a particular kin-group or an individual, who is often the object of spiritual worship. Over time, the more general meaning of totem has evolved to include “a natural object or animal that is sacred and divine… and…symbolizes groups of related people” and “a means of distinguishing one group from another.” From this broad definition, a totem can be more than just a symbol of spiritual membership and belief; it can be a symbol of cultural identity and differences. In sum, the classical totems of kin-groups associated with indigenous practices have evolved, through Western anthropology, to become an all-encompassing symbol of spiritual and cultural ideas in the modern world. The status of totem objects, whether in the original kin-group sense or the more general spiritual idea, indicates the unity and continued significance of these ancient beliefs to their associated cultures. With the depth and elasticity of the modern totem definition, it is not difficult to see how the range of meanings has expanded and been adopted as a study and item of interest in Western societies. From the Western origins of totem practices by anthropologists and the appropriation of the term under colonial periods to the modern inclusive definition, the growth of totem as a concept reflects the growth and change of our globalized society.
1.2. Significance of Totems in Different Cultures
Actually, different cultures apply their myths and beliefs to totem creation. In some cultures, totems are believed to be their family ancestors’ incarnation. In some other cultures, people consider their totems as dear friends and helpers. While in other cultures, totems are feared and it is believed they can bring disasters and diseases to their owners. Take the Native Americans for example, they use totems as a method to record history and legends. Most of the totems are made to describe and honor the ancestors. They are placed in front of the house and can also be found in cemeteries. When a totem is used as a grave post, the top figure would stand and face the west, which symbolizes the human spirit’s trip from the world of the living to the world of the spirits after sunset. If one of the ancestors of a tribe did something extraordinary or important, a totem would be raised to tell all the tribe members of the fact. Each figure in the totem would carry some symbols, and the order of these figures standing on the vertical poles symbolizes a family tree, with the lowest figure as the youngest member. This reflects how the Native Americans see and use the totem – not only is it a beautiful and mysterious piece of art, it also serves as the best way to illustrate history and legends. On the other side of the world, the Aboriginal Australians have different applications of totem traditions. Aboriginal people believe that totems represent connections between tribes and groups, and they use totems as a symbol of their society systems. Theories show that totems illustrate totemic clans’ relationships, with each clan possessing a totem and the totem will dictate how the members of that clan should use and behave. This is a good example showing the differences between various cultures. And this is an example of totems as social development, which can somehow be explained in a primitive way. Your position in the society and even your partner will be defined by the totem you belong to and your related duties and restrictions.
1.3. Evolution of Totems in the Modern World
In contemporary society, totems have evolved from being simply markers of individual and collective identity to become present in new guises. Technology has afforded totems a wider reach and made their role even more complex. For example, Professor Karim Akerma introduced the idea of ‘identity totems’, that is totems in the modern world that visibly show our sense of self. These can include explicit markers of identity, such as elements of our selves or outward performances that show our sense of self to others. He argues that the internet has facilitated the ‘amplification of self’ through the creation of the digital identity totem, and gives the example of Facebook and Myspace as meccas for the formation of a digital identity totem. The production of totem art in the modern world, which will be explored in more detail in the next paragraph, has become one of the most popular modes of totemic representation. This has been driven by a return to a form of ‘primitivism’ that was first seen in the later parts of the 19th century – a widespread movement in Western art and culture which involved a return to earlier, ‘simpler’ civilizations for fresh inspiration. Nonetheless, it is still a matter of debate as to whether this approach enhances or detracts from the meaning of totemic art. Yann Schreiber, a painter and sculptor who creates totemic art, argues that ‘our modern society has turned away from the human scale, [and] a return to the mystique and myth’ of totems can offer a link to deeper and more profound ways of understanding human existence. However, Dr. Anna Jakola suggests that the use of totemic art (especially in her field of cognitive anthropology) as a way of exploring the lives and cultures of people from the past runs the risk of robbing the original totems of their context and association.
2. The Role of Totems in Contemporary Society
Totems might easily identify a group and its broader social responsibilities within modern, complex and large societies. But ethnographers now increasingly question the comparability of contemporary societies with pre-colonial settings. Totems are often taken to represent the shared collective identity of kinship groups and the obligations of members to that group. In modern society, however, it is essential to test how far the idea of the totem is relevant to today’s world given that contemporary social groupings based on kinship have been much weakened. Prominent scholars have suggested it is in the Write a page paper – Do my Assignment Help Australia: No.1 Assignment Writing Service of psychoanalysis and an understanding of totems as personal symbols that the most innovative thinking about totemism can be found today. Since Freud, totemic beliefs and practices have been a source of fascination within psychoanalysis. Freud saw in totems an expression of the most primitive form of social organization. He pointed to the way in which totems were objects of reverence and how the whole clan were united by their relationships to the totem. At the same time, the uniqueness of the totem for each individual was crucial as the totem was a symbolic representation of the self. Such a perspective then allows us to discuss the role of totems in today’s consumer society, perhaps as a way of highlighting the unique nature of objects within a world of mass production and large multinational companies. write my research paper owl essayservice uk writings. shifting attention to the significance of totems as personal symbols, the study of totemism does not merely remain an exercise in historical or anthropological research, but can be actively engaged with contemporary debates about the role and influence of similar symbols in the modern world.
2.1. Totems as Symbols of Identity and Belonging
In understanding totems as symbols of identity and belonging, more contemporary and sociological perspectives play an important role. Cooley’s “Looking Glass Self” theory, developed in the late 19th century, can be used to explain how totems enable and influence self-identification and socialization. This essay will examine this theory and apply it to the use of totems, as well as exploring current debates around identity and its relationship with the digital world. Also, it will explore contemporary debates and critiques on totems, such as cultural appropriation and misuse, ethical considerations, and the work of artists and activists challenging totemism.
Wilhelm Wundt, a founding figure in the field of experimental psychology, argued in “Introduction to Psychology” that the image of a totem is a symbol and the word used to describe it is the sign. He viewed collective totems as a form of shared language; by linking the image, the symbol, and the word, group members are able to demonstrate their connections and similarities with one another. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, proposed a different approach. In his 1913 work “Totem and Taboo,” Freud focuses on the emotional and psychological aspects of totems. He suggested that totems could represent a primitive – or childish – form of a deity and allow groups to express their reverence and worship. This shared religious and emotional bond afforded by collective totems, Freud argued, provides a psychological sense of belonging and security; a totem is a visible and permanent symbol of the invisible and eternal protective forces which are represented by the totem. He went on to use the idea of totemism as evidence for his theory of the ‘Oedipus complex’. Although these key ideas proposed by Wundt and Freud have been critiqued and revised by later theorists, their work highlights the complex and multifaceted nature of totemic symbols.
Throughout history, totems have been used to form and communicate individual and group identities. People often have individual or personal totems, but it is more common for totems to be used collectively, representing the identity of a family, clan, or larger social entity. Many cultures with a totemic tradition, such as the Native American Ojibwa people, trace kinship – family and clan relationships – through the use of totems. These kinship totem groups, known as clans, traditionally show their membership through the temporary or permanent use of symbols and images associated with their totem. For example, members of the Crane Clan might wear a badge, belt buckle or other item each day that shows the image of a crane. This use of collective totems to signify group identity and unity has been studied by social psychologists.
2.2. Totems in Art and Design
Totems have always been a popular source of inspiration for artists and designers. In the world of contemporary art and design, totems can take on many different forms, from sculptures and installations to digital art and graphic design. There are countless examples of totems in art and design today, and they can be found in a variety of different places, from art galleries and public spaces to book covers and album art. For artists and designers, totems present a unique set of creative opportunities. On the one hand, totems come with a rich and interesting cultural history, as well as a wide array of symbolic meanings and visual conventions. This can provide artists and designers with a deep well of inspiration and allow them to create works that engage with and respond to different cultural traditions, artistic movements, and so on. At the same time, totems have a universal and timeless quality that means they can be reimagined and repurposed in many different ways, including in experimental or abstract art – which can be an effective medium for exploring avant-garde concepts or challenging established artistic norms. Thanks to advances in digital technology, totems have found a new lease of life recently in creative design for computer games and virtual environments. This has allowed designers to create interactive totems that respond to the player or to introduce totemic visual themes across an entire digital landscape. write my research paper owl essayservice uk writings. doing so, developers can immerse the player in the world of the game, and designers can experiment with the symbolic and interactive potential of totems in this new medium. Overall, totems remain a vital and dynamic component of the world of contemporary art and design. Whether in the physical or digital Write a page paper – Do my Assignment Help Australia: No.1 Assignment Writing Service, artists and designers continue to be inspired by the rich visual and symbolic language of totems, producing works that engage with the tradition of totemic art or that seek to redefine and reimagine the totem in new and exciting ways.
2.3. Totems in Advertising and Marketing
As people are exposed to thousands of media messages every day, advertisers and marketers need to stand out in order to get their attention. Totemic symbols are everywhere in contemporary advertising and marketing, from the brand logos on our clothes to the tattoos on the bodies of sports stars. Increasingly, advertising strategies and brand identities are designed around the idea of the totem. Companies spend millions of dollars a year in market research and in advertising, and the focus of this persuasive research is to identify the things which subconsciously appeal to human instincts and motivations. Research Paper Writing Service: Professional Help in Research Projects for Students – One of the most potent of these instincts is the need for individual and collective identity, and the totem is a strong and visual expression of this principle. But specialists do not even have to engage in any kind of complex or expensive research to see the importance of the totem. The real ‘local’ totem of a tribal culture can still be found, happily displayed, in any modern city or town. That is, the flag and emblem of the local football team. Football, as the most popular sport worldwide, offers a vision of totemic practice in the form of ‘fanzines’. These are small, independently produced magazines which city and town teams sell in order to fund supporters’ trips to away games and so forth; they often come out weekly during the season and serve to communicate news and developments in the club to the local fanbase. Given that the chief goal of such publications is to cultivate and maintain a loyal and cohesive set of supporters, it is no accident that each issue is cluttered with totemic symbols and rituals. It is possible that the study of totems in advertising and marketing might shed light on the ways in which different societies and cultures promote reasoned debate and challenges to the status quo, as well as responding to free choice and informed opinions. However, advertising is often seen as unchecked, unregulated, and relentless – the very antithesis of a reasoned social exchange of views. In this context, totems may serve as potent, modern expressions of group symbols and identity, but their prominence in what amounts to a 24-hour bombardment of choice serves to make individuals increasingly passive recipients of the tastes and desires of others. This confirms the view of some researchers that the ultimate of the advertisers’ manipulation of group and individual identity is the reduction of our society to a mass of disempowered, isolated individuals.
3. Psychological and Sociological Perspectives on Totems
The meaning and relevance of totemic symbols in contemporary culture have been hotly debated in recent literature. Junod and other scholars have argued that totemism is no longer a living social reality in the world. Junod, for instance, is of the view that contemporary totems operate mainly at the level of the individual and are not of any sociological significance. According to him, most contemporary totems can be reduced to the level of personal neurosis and not guide social relationships as was the case in tribal societies. He distinguishes between pathological totems which give rise to various forms of personality disorders and those normal ones which produce mental health. His argument is based on the Freudian psychological view that one’s mental health or disorder is manifested by the state of one’s unconscious mind. It is only when one is in one’s unconscious mind that one comes into contact with one’s totem, as the totem always exists within one. Nevertheless, modern day scholars such as Harvey W. and Dow then counter this argument by postulating that the contemporary interpretations of totemism have failed to keep abreast with the social developments of time. Harvey, in his influential essay, “Seeing Forms: The Interpretation of the Middle Ages and the Psychology of the Present Day” argues that cultural historian and modern day psychologists have turned to the concept of “collective representation” in order to validate their object of study by opposition to the reductive and atomistic world of the modern day. This gives rise to the explosion of the mental health industry specializing in individual diagnosis and cure and the loss of the concept of generality in psychology. This is best explained by analyzing the current state of Freudian psychological totemism. Harvey W. is of the opinion that Freud’s theories of totemism assume the existence of a primary rove which signifies where the instinctual forces come from and the other totems are seen as expressions of various forms of deflected sexual desires that the totemic tribe could work upon, given those totems. This belief is no longer valid in the modern day and it is merely explained as a romanticism about social relations. He claims that there is a great danger in relying too much on historical and cultural systems of knowledge and practices because this will only lead to the ignorance of other practices and ways of knowing and understanding the world. Harvey W. proposes a more inclusive understanding of contemporary totemism which prompts a revival of the concept of the general as a legitimate object of psychological investigation. On the other hand, Dow stresses the importance of recognizing different interpretations of totemism. Freud’s “egoistic individualism” is a totem-centered explanation and Junod’s distinction is another totem-centered system. It seems that modern day literature is being criticized for adopting the subjective view of one’s totem to treat totemism as poor social psychology. The challenge of gaining a comprehensive and clear understanding of contemporary totemism lies in the quickly changing and developing technological era of today, in which the world seems to be transforming into a single society. While we have to cope with new and different ways of life and new relationships, there is indeed a tendency for modern day scholars to focus on totem-centered explanations, as criticized by Dow. However, the ever-shifting nature of modern society suggests that even well researched contemporary accounts may fall out of date or worst, obsolete, in just a short span of time. Also, the domination of totem-centered explanations is subject to criticism because it assumes that there is an accepted general practice among the scholars of totemism, which may not be true. Given the different facets of modern day totemic research, it is critical and paramount important for one to recognize the variety of different adult views on the nature and interpretation of contemporary totemism.
3.1. Psychological Interpretations of Totems
The Freudian school of thought dominates psychological interpretations of totems. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939), the founding father of psychoanalysis, suggested that totemism helps people to resolve the psychological tensions between their love for nature and their desire to control it. Freud’s theory starts by identifying the first human institution as the family. Totemism, he suggests, is the earliest form of religion and has its origins in the primitive clan structure. According to Freud, totem animals are chosen as an expression of the particular sexual appetite of a certain kinship group. This is because the totem animal not only represents the group, but also stands as a symbol for the sexual object of that special type of libido. However, Freud’s ideas on totemism have been subjected to extensive criticism by psychologists and anthropologists. Firstly, many have argued that his theories are based on erroneous and ethnocentric assumptions about the universality of the Oedipal complex, suggesting that Freud imposed the model of his own Western, patriarchal society onto his interpretations of totemism. Secondly, critics have pointed out that Freud’s work is based on the assumption that all totemism is ‘primal’, in that it strictly follows the so-called Oedipal pattern. However, more recent studies in anthropology have suggested that totemism, both historical and contemporary, can in fact be much more complex and multifaceted. For example, the totemic system might not be as universal as Freud suggests, given that a wide range of social, historical and cultural factors can have an impact on the emergence of totemic affiliation. Some contemporary psychologists have approached the meaning of totems from a Jungian perspective. This derives from the theories of Carl Jung (1875 – 1961), a founding father of humanistic philosophies. Jung believed that all totemic experiences are derived from the collective unconscious, a part of the mind that contains inherited instincts and potential. He identified the totem as an archetypal symbol; a symbol that is universally and repeatedly found in the mythologies of an array of cultures and is thus posited as a common inheritance for all humans. Jung suggested that these archetypal symbols allow the person who experiences a totemic revelation to achieve a union between the conscious and unconscious mind, therefore enabling them to establish a relationship with the deepest part of their psyche. In this respect, Jung argued that totems can inspire understanding, awe and a feeling of connection with the natural world. His theory suggests that the experience of a totemic revelation can resonate within and between affected social groups by helping to advance a collective sense of unity and ethically motivated action, as well as a sense of one’s own unique identity and purpose in life. However, both Freudian and Jungian theories of totemism have been critiqued by contemporary scholars for being reductionist and overly general. Some psychologists and anthropologists prefer to focus on individual case studies and anthropological evidence on a large scale in an attempt to understand the different functions and significance of totems in various cultures. This is known as the ‘etic’ approach to totemic research, whereby scientists introduce their own hypothesis and attempt to fit them around the evidence that is found on a broad comparative scale. Many consider the ‘etic’ approach to be more useful in broadening the understanding of totems in the modern world.
3.2. Sociological Implications of Totemism
Totemism is an important field of study in sociology. French sociologist Émile Durkheim presented one of the first and best-known sociological perspectives of totemism. In his work “The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life” (1912), Durkheim showed how a sociological approach could help to understand what at first had been considered a religious phenomenon. Rather than seeing totems as mere symbols of individual clans, Durkheim argued that they served as a symbol of the power of society over the individual, representing a concrete manifestation of the ‘collective conscience’. The collective conscience is the shared values and beliefs of a society, which Durkheim argued had a real existence of its own. He regarded totemism as an early form of religion which helped to solidify social integration by focusing people’s attention and devotion upon the sacred symbols that represented the society itself. For Durkheim, the explanation of the meanings of totems was not to be looked for in individual personalities or even in the beliefs of specific clans, but in the very real social phenomenon of the ‘collective conscience’. He argued that a society is, in fact, the source of the values and norms that individuals in that society uphold and do not actually originate within the individual, but from social interactions and existence. As a society develops and becomes more complex, the ‘collective conscience’ becomes stronger and more elaborate. Similarly, Durkheim proposed that totemism originated among very simple societies at a time in history when human beings lived only in small communities and their physical and spiritual knowledge was very limited. It is essential to realize that sociological theories of totemism should not be confused with psychological interpretations which often focus upon the individual lives of the founders of totem poles as in the case of Freud’s analysis of the totem raised by the North American Indian tribe, the Wolf tribe. Clearly, sociological perspectives of totemism stress the importance of the relationships between totems and society as a whole and how totems can offer an insight into the way human beings seek to find an explanation for their existence and how social systems can provide such answers. From a sociological perspective, totem pole carving is an ideal example of the influence of the collective consciousness within a society. Initiated, for example, by the Tlingit and Haida peoples of the Northwest coasts but also by other California-based tribes as well as those in the Great Lakes region, the sculptural activity of carving totem poles was part of a ritual performance that sought to unify the tribes as a collective of different sovereignties that could produce unchallenged evidence of foreign nationality for the purposes of both federal Indian policies and territorial land claims. Cultural practices facilitate that totem pole carving was less a demonstration of individual artistic intent and more a representation of sociological power entities in the societal struggles involving tribe federations and land ownership disputes, as called for by both the time-worn ethnographic and various interpretations. Both sociological and psychological theories help explain the meaning of totems in different aspects and provide important knowledge for further study. However, the recognition of the symbolic importance of these remarkable artifacts as expressions of collective beliefs and social facts of Indian tribes in the United States and Canada is sustaining their presence in modern museums and anthropological collections, greatly jeopardizing the cultural claims and ethnographic truths which originate from their traditional placement along natural and ancestral landscapes.
3.3. Influence of Totems on Individual and Collective Behavior
In contemporary human societies, totemic emblems and their derivative symbols no longer perform the precise anatomically integrated function described as the purported function of a totem. The understanding and recognition of totemism as a category of material culture gives us a new perspective on the diversity of human symbolic activities and beliefs. Totemic symbols seem to perform the function of not only demarcating space but also in signposting and annotating it. Such totemic labels, like road signs, can be read and inform the individual about certain features of the environment. Individuals might be expected to behave in certain ways while in the presence of these symbols or notices. Also, the recognition by outside groups and individuals that a particular social group has a certain relationship with a particular totemic symbol may also serve to enhance their self-understanding and confirmation. In such a way, totemic symbols can serve to present certain group identities and mark social differentiation. I discussed many examples of totemism at work in the way people in various and differing cultures make use of symbolic material culture to further their own aims and support their own ideologies. The power of totemic symbolism both within the contexts of specific initiating traditions and within the wider social order more generally attests to the crucial role that symbols can play in underpinning and maintaining existing power relationships and social structures. In a world that is increasingly characterized by the distribution and circulation of information, the analysis of totemic symbols as a category of material culture is starting to provide archaeologists and anthropologists with new insights into the way that past societies structured their worlds. The symbols themselves become less important than the power of the process that they contribute to. These sorts of studies, often termed the archaeology of identity, are on the increase within the discipline. And the study of human remains in all periods can now be complemented by a consideration of the way that individuals are remembered and portrayed in the material culture that they leave behind.
4. Contemporary Debates and Research Essay Writing Service: Write My Essay by Top-Notch Writer – Critiques on Totems
4.1. Cultural Appropriation and Misuse of Totems
4.2. Ethical Considerations in the Use of Totems
4.3. Contemporary Artists and Activists Challenging Totemism

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