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Cultural Change and Integration

Cultural Change and Integration

Author: Paul Hannan

Recognize the role of technology in culture.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain Images from; Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology, Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on cultural change and integration. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, or even fast forward to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial.


So we're looking at cultural change and integration today. So what is cultural change and integration? Well, to really understand that, first you have to think about how cultures change. And there's really three main ways that cultures can change. There's inventions, discovery, and diffusion.

Now for cultural change through invention, something new is created. That's why it's called invention. There's also discovery, where society figures out [INAUDIBLE] and they already exist. So they start to fully understand something that already exists. And there's also diffusion. And diffusion is when ideas are spread across cultures.

So when cultural change happens, not everything-- not all change happens at the same time within a culture. So some culture [INAUDIBLE] change more quickly than others. And that's called cultural lag. And that can disrupt the cultural system.

A really great example of that is technology. So application of knowledge to shape the world in people's lives. Technology is always improving, and especially right now, is improving so quickly. It's changing so fast that a lot of other elements within society can't keep up to the changes that are happening inside technology. So there's this cultural lag, this time when one part of-- one element of culture has changed and the other parts are trying to catch up and deal with that disruption.

Now, another thing that happens with cultural change is cultural integration. Cultural integration is just the idea that the cultural system is cohesive and systematic. So when one thing changes, it's going to change other things around it. It makes a lot more sense with an example.

So if we look at college-- the amount of people going to college in the 1950s in America, about half the population was going to college. A little bit under half was going to college. Now in the 2000s, there's been a huge change in that number. About 70% of people are going to college now, versus not attending college. So it's a huge cultural change. So then, the way that cultural integration works is that the relationship of people going to college affects other parts of society.

A really great way to look at that is looking at the number of people that are getting married at a young age. The amount of people that are going to college has increased so much. And so, when you're going to college, maybe you're not as focused on being married, or you're going to go right into your career. And so, there are people that are choosing to get married later, or just choosing not to get married. And part of that cultural change is happening because of that relationship between more people going to college.

So today's takeaway message-- cultural lag is just that some elements within us-- some elements within a culture change more quickly than others. And that can disrupt the system. Technologies, the application of knowledge to shape the world in people's lives. And cultural integration is the idea that the cultural system is cohesive. So when one part changes, the other parts change eventually, as well.

Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work. And hopefully, you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
Cultural Integration

The idea that a cultural system is cohesive and systematic; when one element of a culture changes, other elements are likely to change with it.

Cultural Lag

Some parts of a culture change faster than others, causing disruptions and adjustments in the system.


Any useful tool or skill. Technology is more than just "high tech" computers and electronics, which are things that we commonly think of today when we hear the term. A simple hammer and nail was at one point a revolutionary technology. Looking at technology as any useful tool or skill introduces a historical component to the concept.