Cultural Lag

Cultural Lag


Dimensions of Culture

There are mainly two dimensions of culture. These are cultural lag and cultural pluralism.

  1. Cultural Lag
  2. Cultural Pluralism
  1. A) Cultural Lag : H2

   Culture can be classified into two aspects namely material culture and non material culture.

   The gap between material culture and non material culture is known as Cultural Lag. The term cultural lag refers to a situation where culture takes time to meet with technological innovations.

It is a situation where there is an unequal rate of change between various aspects of culture which is causing a gap between them.

This lag creates social problems and conflicts in a society in many ways.

William F. Ogburn was the first who coined The term Cultural Lag in his 1922 work “Social Change with Respect to Culture and Original Nature”.  His work was important in drawing attention to problems with social changes and responses.  He states that there is a gap between traditional cultural values and the technical realities in the world.

  • traditional cultural values
  • technical realities in the world

Let us understand the concept of cultural lag with the help of a graph.

Above figure shows the concept of cultural lag and how it depends on different aspects of culture.

So, in the above graph we can find out the change in culture according to the time.

Here we can also see that there is a gap between material and non material culture, and this gap is called cultural lag.


      Material culture means physical things which can be felt, such as technology and infrastructure. It includes tools, weapons, jewelleries, clothing, shelter, machines, constructions, etc.

     Non material culture means non physical things which cannot be seen from outside, which includes spiritual civilization like values, language, literature, art, manners, religion, habits, knowledge, morality, manners, traditions, beliefs, law, government etc.

     The Gap between material and non material culture is showing the different rate of change between different types of cultures, say A,B and C.

This lag creates social problems and conflicts in a society in many ways.

The issue of cultural lag is common where the implementation of some new technology takes place.

For example, a culture where families commonly watched television together as a shared experience simply drops this practice due to the increasing use of personal electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets.

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