Essay on Cultural Change in Our Society – According to Kingsley Davis, the cultural change “embraces all changes occurring in any branch of culture including art, science, technology, philosophy, etc., as well as changes in the forms and rules of social organisation”.
According to David Dressier and Donald Cams, “Cultural change is the modification or discontinuance of existing ‘tried’ and ‘tested ‘procedures transmitted to us from the culture of the past, as well as the introduction of new procedures “.
In brief, any change that takes place in the realm of culture can be called cultural change. Culture is not static but dynamic. It also undergoes change. For example, invention and popularisation of the automobile, the addition of new words to our language, changing concepts of property and morality, new forms of music, art or dance, new styles in architecture and sculpture, new rules of grammar or meter, the general trend towards sex equality, etc., all represent cultural changes. Nearly all important changes involve social and cultural, material and non-material aspects.
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All cultures change, although they do so in different ways and at different rates. Culture is normally regarded as conservative, especially in its non-material aspects.
For example, people are reluctant to give up old values, customs and beliefs in favour of new ones. Changes in one area of culture affect in some way or the other, some other parts of culture. This is so because culture is strongly integrated.
Further, one change may lead to another. Some of the basic changes, for example, the ways in which a society earns its living or conducts its economic activity and exploits the environment, can affect almost all the other cultural elements.
Causes of Cultural Changes:
David Dressier and Donald Cams have made the following observations with regard to the causes of cultural change.
1. Sometimes members of a society are often confronted by customs that differ from those which they have learnt to accept. In such a situation they adopt some of the new customs, reject others, and follow modified versions of still others. This might be called cultural eclecticism.
2. New customs and practices are likely to be more readily adopted under two conditions: (i) if they represent what is viewed as socially desirable and useful and (ii) if they do not clash with preexisted and still valued customs and practices.
3. It is widely observed that even if the people accept the new customs and practices, they do not completely abandon their traditional culture.
4. Changes in culture are always superimposed on existing culture especially during culture- contact.
5 Changes in culture are always relative. We do not have a “changed” culture but only a “changing culture”, strictly speaking. Cultural changes normally emerge gradually but continuously. Hence we find a co-existence of old and new customs in the same society.
6. All the cultural changes are pot equally important. Some changes are introduced to culture because they are considered necessary for human survival. Some other changes are accepted in order to satisfy socially acquired needs not essential for survival.
7. Still it could be observed that some cultural changes originally meet neither a “survival need” nor an “acquired need” of a people. Example: New ways of disposing of the dead.
8. It is a fact of common observation that crisis tends to produce or accelerate cultural change. If the changes are accepted once due to the crisis, they tend to persist. Example: Women were accepted in defence industry during the Second World War, and even now they continue to be there.
9. Cultural change is cumulative in its total effect. Much is added and little is lost. Its growth is like the growth of a tree that ever expands but only loses its leaves, sometimes its limbs from time to time, as long as it survives.
10. Cultural change leads to chain reaction. “Whenever a change is incorporated into the culture and becomes defined as a “social necessity’, new needs emerge, generating the desire for still further changes to complement or supplement the original change.