S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) 국제지역연구 국제지역연구 vol.04 (1995)
싱가폴의 종교와 문화
Religion and Culture in Singapore
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 지역종합연구소
- 지역연구, Vol.04 No.4, pp. 1-42
- The study of ideological systems - political ideologies, symbolic systems, systems of belief and knowledge and religion - is absolutely essential to the understanding of culture. In Singaporean culture the religious factor, for example, is of major importance as an ethnic and social marker, as a determinant of diet, dress, custom and even language, and as a potentially important political problem.
The purpose of this study is to explore the unique characteristics of Singapore society in the light of its colorful religion and culture. To achieve this goal, firstly, this paper analyzed the dominant ideologies and social values in Singaporean context. And secondly, this paper examined carefully the contemporary religious situation under the influence of the secular state and the rapid social change caused by modernization.
The major findings of this study, that is, the noticeable sociocultural aspects of Singapore are as follows:
(1) Singapore society is to a certain degree ’communitarian.’ Singapore is the only nation in the region where there is a substantial Chinese majority and where Chinese exercise political control. Unlike southern China, the Singaporean Chinese lineage organization is and was weak because of the absence of normal families, individual based migration and the sojourner ideology of the early migrants. Furthermore, the majority (about 56%) of Singaporeans and most of these Chinese belong to religions such as Taoism/Buddhism showing tolerant view of other religions. This has been a stabilizing factor in Singapore society.
(2) Regarding social values in Singapore, there exists a strong consensus on the so called ’social pollution.’ Polluting things are those designated as undesirable offences against order. In this respect, Singapore does not have organized crime, organized gambling and organized prostitution. Thus this society is basically ’ conservative.’
(3) ’Religion’ is very important to a large number of Singaporeans although they live in a modern and officially secular society. For some it is a definition of their identity, for others a major part of their cultural life and for others a major source of spiritual, social and even cultural nourishment.
(4) In the strong PAP(the People’s Action Party) government the operant element is and was ’pragmatism’ derived from one central concern - ’survival.’ With the continuing success of economy under the leadership of the PAP government, the pragmatism of the PAP has spread out among the grass roots. However, this leads quite naturally the problem of order(the paradoxes of pragmatism): how to have both order and rapid change; authority and pragmatism; rationality and tradition.