Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Materialism, Modernism, New Age Consciousness, Post-Modernism, Spiritualism… are all examples of the forth level of culture – Belief Systems.
Belief systems are convictions concerning truth that people live by. Often religion provides the answers here, but people who do not consider themselves to be religious also have a foundational set of beliefs that guides them through life. Belief Systems start with a basic Worldview and are further shaped by a variety of factors such as:
- Socio-economic status
- Geo-political context
Normally one of the above five items will be dominant for a person’s identity. I’ll use myself as an example here. I am a white, European (ethnicity), middle class, (socio-economic status), American (geo-political context), Christian (religion), English-speaker (language). All of those factors contribute to my Belief System.
But, of all those factors, my religion is most important to me. In other words, I look to my faith above my citizenship, class, ethnicity, etc when considering how to navigate life. When conflict arises between being an American and being a Christian, I side with my faith. Another white, American, middle class, English speaking, Christian might be more inclined toward their socio-economic status or American values in the same situation.
The following questions reveal the Belief System of a group of people:
- What are people’s aspirations in life? What are they striving to attain or experience?
- How do people explain sickness, natural disasters or similar troubles?
- To whom, what or where do people turn for help when they need it?
- In what way are people religious?
- What do people trust in?
- Who or what in the universe has the power to alter or change the course of history?