Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD Traditional Realist

There are many subcultures throughout a national culture. In a particular business the office culture of acceptable dress might be casual while another might be formal. The actual office dress code is not determined solely by a memo but by the clothes worn by the staff. It is the enforcement of the standards set by the head of the business not the directive that is most important. A new member of the staff will survey the actual office and determine what would be acceptable to wear.

In schools you see the same phenomenon in the culture of the classroom. It is dependent on what behavior is allowed or not. It is up to the teacher to establish the culture by creating and enforcing the rules. Many children will “push the envelope” until they are stopped or witness another student given a strong reprimand. The old adage “monkey see, monkey do” is as true today as it was in the past. Children, like adults follow the mini cultures established by others.
In the long run any authority figure is as strong as his commitment to his word and mission. Parents are the first to establish acceptable and unacceptable behavior. These are instilled by the will and the consistency of the parent. Permissive parents will raise generally less respectful children who most likely will test the limits. While a more firm and fair parent will likely produce a better listening child who is more prone to follow the authority of others. This is one of the reasons fatherless children often have more difficulty complying with the demands of teachers and commands of police officers. By nature men are less tolerant.

The enforcement of acceptable and unacceptable actions by teachers, police officers or employers creates a subculture that will be spread not only by their perseverance but also more powerfully by their disciples. Each person role modeling the behavior and thinking of the authority figure will shape the behavior of others they touch. Even in this subculture the trained person will show what is acceptable or not by role modeling and direct intervention. “That is not the way we do it here, this is how it should be done.” The converse is chaos that runs amuck when authority figures are not allowed or willing to enforce the rules.

Even the national culture is greatly influenced by the head of the government, particularly by the president. This is naturally accomplished if he often uses the bully pulpit to speak to the nation. As the most influential person in the nation, his lead is imitated not only consciously but also unconsciously. His supporters amplify his message; the media attempting to gain access to the leader will naturally flatter him or her in their narratives to gain attention. Even his opponents keep the message alive by debating his ideas, which increases his legitimacy. Media, entertainers and other influential people copy the nonverbal gestures, manners and humor. The power of the presidency should not be underestimated nor the head of any organization.

The national culture shifts one way or another depending on the community, state and national leader’s philosophy of life. This percolates down to their supporters, who amplify these changes by their allegiance and support of their behavior of his actions and thoughts. Leadership on all levels impacts people’s actions.

The change is less impactful if the previous view of the culture is deeply rooted or more so if the current culture is superficial. A weakened culture with decaying institutions allows the head of the government and his minions to shift it radically. A family rooted culture with strong moral values reinforced by one’s religion is more resistant to a radical ideology. Destroying the moral values of the people allows government propaganda to be more readily accepted in this vacuum.

Only by revitalizing the institutions’ moral foundation can a long lasting just society prevail. Disciplined citizens who are solid in their values can halt repressive radical change. Strong established cultures might prevent or slow a disastrous breakdown in the cohesiveness of schools, culture, community and nation.

Disunity caused by cultural conflict is unsettling and destabilizing. We see the same phenomenon from daycare through high school. When classrooms have out-of-control students the other students will attempt to copy and impress each other by doing the wrong thing. These anti social peer groups become the direct instructors showing each other how to get recognition by doing obnoxious behaviors. Chaos reigns when corrupted in-charge community and national leaders teach children.

When parents demand the right behaviors from their children this training often prevents them from following inappropriate actions by out-of-control students. The same phenomenon happens at all levels of society. The leaders are the role models that set the standards and expectations that their subjects follow.

Monkey-see-monkey-do can be a good or bad thing depending on the group and its leader at the top. Be a dignified leader and the world will be a better moral, spiritual and productive place.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. Dr. Maglio has a new book, just published entitled, IN CHARGE PARENTING. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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