Cultural factors influence social changes. There is an intimate relationship between society and culture. Hence cultural changes involve social change. Cultural factors such as values, attitudes, ideologies, ideas of greatmen etc. play a vital role in influencing social change. W. F. Ogburn’s concept of cultural lag explains the role of culture in social change.
(1) Role of values
Values play a major role in acceptance or rejection of any social change. In our country some communities do not approve of the use of contraceptive as they believe that it goes against their religious values as well as the economic values of having large family.
(2) Role of attitude
The attitude of a society towards scientific enquiry may encourage or discourage change. In the medieval Europe, Galileo was tortured because of the speculative attitude of the church leaders. In contrast modern countries at present encourage science. The successful scientists in our country are rewarded with honour, prestige, and sometimes with money. High value placed on science has encouraged many youngmen to take up science as a career.
(3) Role of greatmen
Greatmen like the Buddha, Mahavira, Sankaracharya, Jagannatha Das, Aurovinda, Vivekananda, Mahammad, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and others have introduced revolutionary changes in the spheres of religion. Napoleon, Hitler, Karl Marx, Gandhi and others have caused radical changes in the sphere of politics. Similarly writers, scientists, philosophers have also contributed to social changes.
(4) Role of ideology
Ideology means a set of beliefs justifying the interest of those who held it. New ideas and ideologies also bring about significant changes in the world’s social and economic order. Nobody can deny the influences of the ideas like liberty, equality and fraternity in giving rise to the French revolution. Similarly new ideologies such as socialism, Gandhisim and democracy have exerted profound influence on social organisation. Recent change in ideologies has caused disintegration of the U.S.S.R.
(5) Concept of cultural lag
The term cultural lag was first used by W. F. Ogburn in his book ‘Social Change’. The concept of cultural lag is a necessary concept in the explanation of social change. Ogburn classified culture into two categories. 1. Material culture and 2. Non-material culture. By material culture, he means things like books, utensils, machines, houses and such other forms of technology. Non-material aspect of culture include beliefs, attitudes, values, norms, religion, education etc. According to Ogburn changes come first into the material aspects of culture. But the non-material aspects of culture take time to adjust to the changes taking place in material aspects. As a result, non-material culture falls behind material culture, which is known as ‘cultural lag’.
Ogburn has cited number of examples of cultural lag. According to him the number of policemen in towns remains constant whereas the population of town is fast increasing. Secondly family planning technologies have advanced but people take time to accept them. Even some communities do not accept family planning measures due to traditional religious values and social pressure. As a result cultural lag occurs.
From the above discussion the cause of cultural lag is that the various parts of culture change at different rates. Material culture changes more rapidly that non-material culture. But cultural lag is due to man’s ideologies, dogmatism and conservatism. Because of his inclination to tradition, man cannot change social institutions. The failure of social institutions to adapt to the changes in technology leads to cultural lag.