You are currently viewing The Power of Customs on National Ideology

The Power of Customs on National Ideology

: A Comparison of Great Britain And Indonesia Customs

A custom is a cultural concept that represents a regular, repetitive pattern of behavior that’s also regarded as typical of life in a social system (Maluleke, 2012). According to Thompson (1993), the term ‘custom’ was used to carry much of what is now carried by the word “culture”. So, there is no big difference between culture and custom. One thing that makes the two different is their scope studies. A culture is a whole way of life, whereas a custom is a specific behavior or way of doing something. It means that the scope of culture is wider than customs because it covered the whole specific activities in customs. Customs has a power to shape nation ideology because it is influenced by values and norms. Values and norms are basically the fundamental influences of a nation’s ideology (Turner, 2003). Indonesia and Britain for example, Both countries have a very backlash ideology. Indonesia stands with its collectivism. Whereas, Britain stands with individualism. Both countries have different ideologies because basically they have different customs. Two of the customs that can influence nation ideology are activities in leisure time and social behavior.

In Britain, Leisure time is mostly known as a time when you get to rest and chill. Weekend is a part of leisure time that’s British people waiting for the most. Saturday and Sunday is Britain’s weekend day. One of the most activities that British people do to chill is shopping. Shopping day is mostly on Saturday. People rarely spend their time outdoor on Sunday. It is because British people believe Sunday should be kept as a special day for worshipping God (Higgins et al., 2010). The unique shopping culture in Britain is there is no bargain. British people mostly have regarded bargaining as nasty and impolite throughout the years. So instead of bargaining, the big stores have maintained their earnings at a fixed price. This attitude shows the individual character that is part of the individualism ideology of the nation. In a bargain we need cooperation but without a bargain, it means that only one part can present their opinion. 

Indonesia Customs

 In Indonesia, leisure time is seen as a time to have fun with family and get rest. Saturday and Sunday is the day of Indonesian leisure time. Shopping is one of the activities Indonesians mostly do to have fun with their family (Saunder, 2007). In shopping time, the whole family; mother, father, and kids will go together. The density of shopping activity always occurs on Saturdays. This is because Sunday is considered as a day for complete rest before returning to work on Monday. In terms of shopping, Indonesians are still likely to shop at a traditional market. In a traditional market, a bargain always happened. The buyer and the seller mostly reach the deal price through a bargain. This is the portrayal of collectivism ideology of Indonesia. It is because in a bargain value a group over yourself by not giving chance for the others to give their opinion.

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Social behavior has many unique and different kinds. Moreover, it is a dominant part of the customs that differentiate one country from others(Forshee, 2006). In Britain, Some of the social behavior connected with time, dress, and greeting has a strong sense of the nation’s ideology (Dyer, 1891). In terms of time, punctuality is highly valued in Britain. British people always make a great struggle to arrive on time. when you hold a meeting and then an agreement has not been reached even though time is almost up, then the meeting will be closed according to schedule and the agreement will be decided without counting any opinion again. In terms of dressing, British people do not have any basic standard of you should dress. For the most part, a daily dress that is not even covered your whole body skin is appropriate for visits to people’s homes. A formal dress like a collared shirt is only used on special occasions. In terms of greeting, British people have a handshake to greet each other. Thus, they will never try to greet any stranger that has no business with them. From those three terms, it is clearly seen that British people value individuals over a group.

Culture behavior

As a collectivist country, Indonesia also has various kinds of social behavior. Those kinds of behaviors also represent its nation’s ideology that is collectivism. Some of the social behaviors that are connected with Indonesian ideology are time, dress, and greeting(Cole, 2001). In terms of time, punctuality is not ingrained. Indonesian is value respect in a group. In a meeting, every opinion will be heard and considered to take the agreement even though the time is already up. In terms of dress, Indonesian has a standard on a good dress for visit. Indonesia is dominated by Muslims. So the appropriate dress should be covered most of the body. Clothes that only cover half of the body are considered impolite. In terms of greeting, Indonesians greet people with a handshake or even a hug. Additionally, Indonesians also happily greet foreigners in public just to pass the time while waiting for a queue or vehicle. Those three terms clearly show that Indonesians value a group over an individual.

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 All in all, Great Britain and Indonesia have different customs that can represent their nation’s ideology. In leisure time, Great Britain value an individual through its no bargain customs in shopping while Indonesia value a group through its bargain customs in shopping. In social behavior, Great Britain also values an individual through its customs like no tolerance in time, freely dressing, and greeting only for someone they know. Besides, Indonesia values a group through its customs like tolerance in time, creating standard dressing, and greeting for anyone. Those customs have already been a behavior of British people and Indonesians that is why those customs have a great impact on nation ideology.

By : Izzatun NabilaMahasiswa sastra Inggris UIN Maulana Malik Ibrahim Malang


Cole, G. J. (2001). PASSPORT Indonesia: your pocket guide to Indonesian Business, Customs, and Etiquette.

Dyer, Thiselton. (1875). British Popular Customs, Present and Past: Illustrating the Social and Domestic Manner of The People. In Pembroke College, Oxon.

Forshee, J. (2006). Culture and Customs of Indonesia. In Greenwood Press.

Higgins, M., Smith, C., & Storey, J. (2010). The cambridge companion to modern British culture. In The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture.

Maluleke, M. (2012). Culture, tradition, Custom, Law and Gender Equality. PER, 15(1), 1–22.

Saunder, G. (2007). The Essential guide to Customs and Culture Indonesia.

Turner, G. (2003). British cultural studies: An introduction, third edition. In Routledge.

Thompson, E. P. (1992). Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture. In The New Press: New York.

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