Culture Change A. How and Why Cultures Change B. Culture Change and Adaptation C. Types of Culture Change in the Modern World D. Cultural Diversity in the FutureBased on thorough reading of the chapter, students should be able to: ● Communicate the processes that lead to culture change. ● Correlate culture change and the adaptation of a society to a changing environment. ● Discuss the problems and opportunities of globalization. ● Identify the types of culture change occurring in the modern world. ● Analyze the emergence of new cultures. ● Critique why various types of culture change are occurring in the present. A. How and Why Cultures Change Discoveries and inventions, which may originate inside or outside a society, are ultimately the sources of allculture change. But they do not necessarily lead to change. If an invention or discovery is ignored, no change inculture results. It is only when society accepts an invention or discovery and uses it regularly that that we can beginto speak of culture change. ● Discovery and Invention The new thing discovered or invented, the innovation may be an object (the wheel, the plow, the computer)or it may involve behaviour and ideas (buying and selling, democracy, monogamy.) According to Ralph Linton, adiscovery is any addition to knowledge and an invention is a anew application of knowledge. Thus, a person mightdiscover that children can be persuaded to eat nourishing food if the food is associated with an imaginary characterwho appeals to them. And then someone might exploit that discovery by inventing a character named Popeye whoappears in a series of animated cartoons, acquiring miraculous strength in a variety of dramatic situations bydevouring cans of spinach. a. Unconscious Invention In discussing the process of invention, we should differentiate between various types of inventions. One type is the consequence of a society’s setting itself a specific goal, such as eliminating tuberculosis or placing a person on the moon. Another type emerges less intentionally. This second process of invention is often referred to as accidental juxtaposition or unconscious invention. Linton suggested that some inventions, especially those of prehistoric days, were probably the consequences of literally dozens of tiny initiatives by “unconscious” inventors. These inventors made their small contributions, perhaps over many hundreds of years, without being aware of the part they were playing in bringing one invention, to completion. (Consider for instance, the wheel. It could be possible that children playing on a fallen log, which rolls as they walk and balance on it, coupled with the need at a given moment to move a slab of granite from a cave face. The children’s play may have suggested the use of logs as rollers and thereby set
in motion a series of developments that culminated in the wheel.) (From our point of view, it is difficult to imagine such a simple inventions to the wheel taking so many centuries to come into being. We are tempted to surmise that early humans were less intelligent than we are. But the capacity of the human brain has been the same for perhaps 100,000 years; there is no evidence that the inventors of the wheel were any less intelligent than we are.) b. Intentional Innovation Some discoveries and inventions arise out of deliberate attempts to produce a new idea or object. It may seem that such innovations are obvious responses to perceived needs. For example, during the Industrial Revolution there was a great demand for inventions that would increase productivity. James Hargreaves, in 18th century England, is an example of an inventor who responded to an existing demand. Textile manufacturers were clamouring for such large quantities of spun yarn that cottage labourers, working with foot-operated spinning wheels, could not meet the demand. Hargreaves, realizing that prestige and financial rewards would come to the person who invented a method of spinning large quantities of yarn in a short time, set about the task and developed the spinning jenny. The spinning jenny, invented by James Hargreaves, is a very good example of invention that responded to a perceived need. ● Diffusion The source of new cultural elements in a society may also be another society. The process by which culturalelements are borrowed from another society and incorporated into the new culture of the recipient group is calleddiffusion. In a well known essay, Ralph Linton conveyed the far-reaching effects of diffusion by considering the firstfew hours in the day of an American man in the 1930’s. The full essay reads: There can be no question about the average Americans Americanism or his desire to preservethis precious heritage at all costs. Nevertheless, some insidious foreign ideas have already wormed theirway into his civilization without his realizing what was going on. Thus, dawn finds the unsuspecting patriotgarbed in pajamas, a garment of East Indian origin; and lying in a bed built on a pattern which originated
in either Persia or Asia Minor. He is muffled to the ears in un-American materials: cotton, firstdomesticated in India; linen, domesticated in the Middle East; wool from an animal native to Asia Minor;or silk whose uses were first discovered by the Chinese.On awakening he glances at the clock, a medieval European invention, rises in haste, and goes to thebathroom. Here, if he stops to think about it, he must feel himself in the presence of a great Americaninstitution; he will have heard stories of both the quality and frequency of foreign plumbing and will knowthat in no other country does the average man or woman perform their ablutions in the midst of suchsplendor. But the insidious foreign influences pursue him even here. Glass was invented by the ancientEgyptians, the use of glazed tiles for floors and walls in the Middle East, porcelain in China, and the artof enameling on metal by Mediterranean artisans of the Bronze Age. Even his bathtub and toilet are butslightly modified copies of Roman originals. The only purely American contribution to the ensemble is thesteam radiator, against which our patriot very briefly and unintentionally places his posterior.Returning to the bedroom, the unconscious victim of un-American practices removes his clothes from achair, invented in the Near East, and proceeds to dress. He puts on close-fitting tailored garments whoseform derives from the skin clothing of the ancient nomads of the Asiatic steppes and fastens them withbuttons whose prototypes appeared in Europe at the close of the Stone Age. He puts on his feet stiffcoverings made from hide prepared by a process invented in ancient Egypt and cut to a pattern whichcan be traced back to ancient Greece and makes sure they are properly polished, also a Greek idea.Lastly, he ties about his neck a strip of bright-colored cloth, which is a vestigial survival of the shouldershawls worn by seventeenth-century Croats. He gives himself a final appraisal in the mirror, an oldMediterranean invention and goes downstairs to breakfast.Here a whole new series of foreign things confront him. His food and drink are placed before him inpottery vessels, the popular name of which - china - is sufficient evidence of their origin. His fork is amedieval Italian invention and his spoon a copy of a Roman original. He will usually begin his meal withcoffee, an Abyssinian plant first discovered by Arabs. The American is quite likely to need it to dispel themorning after affects of over-indulgence in fermented drinks, invented in the Near East; or distilled ones,invented by the alchemists of medieval Europe.If our patriot is old-fashioned enough to adhere to the so-called American breakfast, his coffee will beaccompanied by an orange, or orange juice, domesticated in the Mediterranean region, a cantaloupedomesticated in Persia, or grapes domesticated in Asia Minor. From this he will go on to waffles, aScandinavian invention, with plenty of butter, originally a Near-Eastern cosmetic.Breakfast over, he sprints for his train - the train, not the sprinting, being an English invention. At thestation, he pauses for a moment to buy a newspaper, paying for it with coins invented in ancient Lydia.Once on the train he settles back to inhale the fumes of a cigarette invented in Mexico, or a cigarinvented in Brazil. Meanwhile, he reads the news of the day, imprinted in characters invented by theancient Semites by a process invented in Germany upon a material invented in China. As he scans thelatest editorial pointing out the dire results to our institutions of accepting foreign ideas, he will not fail tothank a Hebrew God in an Indo-European language that he is one hundred percent (decimal systeminvented by the Greeks) American (from Americus Vespucci, Italian geographer).Patterns of Diffusion There are three basic patterns of diffusion: direct contact, intermediate contact, and stimulus diffusion. 1. Direct Contact. Elements of a society’s culture maybe first taken up by neighboring societies and then gradually spread farther and farther afield. The spread of the use of paper is a good example of extensive diffusion by direct contact. The invention of the paper is attributed to the Chinese Ts’ai Lun in A.D. 105. Within 50 years, paper was being made in many places in central China. While the art of papermaking was kept secret for about 50 years, paper was distributed as a commodity
to much of Arab world through the markets at Samarkand. But when Samarkand was attacked by the Chinese in 751, a Chinese prisoner was forced to set up a paper mill. Paper manufacture then spread to the rest of the Arab world; it was manufactured in Baghdad in A.D. 793, Egypt about A.D. 900, and Morocco about A.D. 1100. Paper making was introduced as a commodity in Europe by Arab trade through Italian ports in the 12th century. The Moors built the first European paper mill in Spain about 1150. The technical knowledge then spread throughout Europe with paper mills built in Italy in 1276, France in 1348, Germany in 1390, and England in 1494. In general, the pattern of accepting the borrowed invention was the same in all cases. Paper was first introduced as a luxury, then in ever-expanding quantities as a staple product. Finally, and usually within one to three centuries, local manufacture was begun. 2. Intermediate Contact. Diffusion by intermediate contact occurs through the agency of third parties. Frequently, traders carry a cultural trait from the society that originated it to another group. As an example of diffusion through intermediaries, Phoenician traders spread the alphabet, which may have been invented by another Semitic group, to Greece. In the 19th century, Western missionaries in all parts of the world encouraged natives to wear Western clothing. The result is that in Africa, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere, native peoples can be found wearing shorts, suit jackets, shirts, ties, and other typically Western articles of clothing. 3. Stimulus Diffusion. In stimulus diffusion, knowledge of a trait belonging to another culture stimulates the invention or development of a local equivalent. A classic example of stimulus invention is the Cherokee writing system created by a Native American writer named Sequoya so that his people could write down their language. Sequoya got the idea from his contact with Europeans. Yet he did not adopt the English writing system; indeed he did not even learn to write English. What he did was utilize some English alphabetic symbols, alter others, and invent new ones. In other words, Sequoya took English alphabetic ideas and gave them a new, Cherokee form. The stimulus originated with Europeans; the result was peculiarly Cherokee.Think: review the three patterns of diffusion. Consult with your classmates and come up withexamples of each from our own culture. ● Acculturation The process of acculturation refers to the changes that occur when different cultural groups comeinto contact. Given this definition, you may think that it does not differ at all from diffusion. However, inacculturation, change takes place between societies where one is more powerful that the other. Andgenerally, it is the less powerful society that borrows from the superior society. Sometimes, culture changetakes its most direct form – conquest or colonization – where the dominant group uses force or threat offorce to bring about culture change in the other group. For example, in the Spanish conquest of thePhilippines, the conquerors forced many of the native groups to convert to Catholicism. In other times,
change is brought about without coercion at all. For instance, the Filipinos seem eager to adopt the use of agricultural machinery in place of farm animals without any force. ● Revolution The most drastic and rapid way a culture can change is as a result of revolution – replacement, usually violent, of a country’s rulers. Historical records, as well as our daily newspapers, indicate that people frequently rebel against established authority. Rebellions, if they occur, almost always occur in state societies, where there is distinct ruling elite. They take the form of struggles between rulers and ruled, between conquerors and conquered, or between representatives of an external colonial power and segments of the native society. Rebels do not always succeed in overthrowing their rulers, so rebellions don’t always result in revolutions. And even successful rebellions do not always result in culture change; the individuals rulers may change but customs or institutions may not. Think: Did the EDSA Revolution bring about culture change in our society? Why or why not?B. Culture Change and Adaptation The discussion on the concept of culture mentioned on the general assumption that the most customary behaviours of a culture are probably adaptive, or at least maladaptive, in that environment. A custom is adaptive if it increases the likelihood that the people practicing it will survive and reproduce. Even though customs are learned and not genetically inherited, cultural adaptation may be otherwise like biological adaptation or evolution. The frequency of certain genetic alternatives is likely to increase over time if those genetic traits increase their carriers’ chances of survival and reproduction. Similarly, the frequency of a new learned behaviour will increase over time and become customary in a population if the people with that behaviour are most likely to survive and reproduce. Thus, if a culture is adapted to its environment, culture change should also be adaptive – not always, to be sure, but commonly.C. Types of Culture Change in the World 1. Commercialization One of the most important changes resulting from the expansion of Western societies is the increasingly worldwide dependence on commercial exchange. The borrowed customs of buying and selling may be supplementary to traditional means of distributing goods in a society. But as the new commercial customs take hold, the economic base of the receiving society alters. Inevitably, this alteration is accompanied by other changes, which have broad social, political and economic ramifications. The following are factors that contribute to the development of commercialization: a. Migratory labour (when some members of the community move to a place that offers the possibility of working for wages).
b. When a society begins to depend more and more on trading for its livelihood. c. Commercialization can occur when people cultivating the soil produce a surplus above their subsistence requirements, which is then sold for cash. d. When commercial agriculture is introduced in the society because in such type of agriculture all cultivated commodities are produced for sale rather than for personal consumption.2. Religious ChangeThe growing influence of the west also led to religious change in many places. Often the change has beenbrought about intentionally through the efforts of missionaries, who have been among the first Westerners totravel to interior regions and out-of-the-way places.3. Political and Social Change In addition to commercialization and religious change brought about by the expansion of Westernand other societies, political changes have often occurred when a foreign system of government has beenimposed, as was the experience of the Philippines which has been under three colonists, the Spaniards, theAmericans, and the Japanese. Each colonizer brought with it new ideas on political, economic and eveneducational reforms.Activity:1. Group Activity. In a Manila paper, paste cut out pictures of three objects and the changes they have undergone since they were first invented. Be able to share this with your classmates.2. Individual Activity. Think of certain changes which took place in traditions, practices or customs in our barrio or hometown. Or you can ask your grandparents or parents about their own observations regarding changes in such traditions, practices, or customs. Speculate on what caused these changes. Submit on one whole piece of paper.