How Does Culture Change?

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Culture changes through developments in technology, political beliefs and religious ideas. External encounters with diverse societies and environmental factors also change cultural beliefs. Cultural change sometimes causes a backlash from those with more traditional social views.

The development of the automobile and internal cultural change transformed the pace of life, the methods of labor organization, and the geographical distribution of people and jobs. The development of democratic-republican ideas in the British colonies during the American Revolution led to changes in both government and society at large.

Cultural change occurs due to the diffusion of ideas from one society to another. Examples of this include the emergence of the Buddhist religion in China, and the exportation of American culture through Hollywood television and films. Cultural change also occurs through syncretism, or when ideas from different cultures mix. This occurred when Catholic saints were introduced to Meso-American polytheistic beliefs. Acculturation occurs when one cultural belief system is replaced entirely by another. This occurred in Scandinavian societies when local polytheistic traditions were replaced by Christianity.

Environmental changes lead to significant cultural developments. For example, after the introduction of the horse by Spanish settlers, Native Americans of the Western Plains changed their agricultural society to a horse-based nomadic culture.