Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Cultural Change
  • Culture
  • Discovery
  • Innovation
  • Invention
  • Oss0212
  • Sociology
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Explain the primary forces that produce cultural change.


    OER Text material

    Cultural Change

    Chapter 3, subsection 3.3. The concepts of innovation, discovery, and invention are used to explain cultural change. An innovation refers to an object or concept’s initial appearance in society—it is innovative because it is markedly new. There are two types of innovation: discovery and invention. Discoveries make known previously unknown but existing aspects of reality. Inventions result when something new is formed from existing objects or concepts—when things are put together in an entirely new manner.

    Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

    Culture Series: Cultural Change (Video)

    This video goes beyond the sociological concepts used to explain cultural change – the presenter talks about innovation, war, migration, and trade as the factors that lead to cultural change. I recommend this video because it adds something different to what students learn in the classroom. It is very practical.

    Process of Cultural Change (Video)

    The presenter defines cultural change, and goes into what he terms independent invention. The presenter also explains diffusion and how it influences cultural change or cultural spread. He also talks about practical factors like migration, war, and trade.

    What are the causes of cultural change?

    According to this article, the most common way that cultures change is through contact with other cultures. This change through contact is termed cultural diffusion. Contact between cultures can occur in a number of ways including trade, immigration, or warfare. When cultures come into contact with one another, they share ideas, religion, language, and technologies that inevitably change both cultures in meaningful ways. Technology, or the tools that people use, also has a great impact on cultural change.

    Reading: Cultural Change

    In this article, the following concepts are used to explain cultural change: innovation, discovery, invention, globalization, and diffusion. The ways each of them influences culture are discussed in the article.