Cultural factors influence social changes. Societies and cultures are closely related to each other and we can say the cultural change involve social change. To influence social change, cultural factors like ideologies, values, attitudes and ideas of greatmen plays an important role in the whole process. Following paragraphs explain the role of culture in social change.
Some of the cultures provide a condition for resistance to change. The customary ways of life and cultural values have been laid so deeply in their nature that any external element does not find a room as to become a part of their culture. Such a way of life does not accept social change due to cultural inertia. Nomadic people wandering from one part of the region to another and contacting people of various regions stick to their own cultural ways of life. It is due to their cultural inertia.
The aspects of human life do not accept changes altogether and at the same time. Human life is a component of various material and non-material aspects of environment. Material includes tools, implements and their complex systems of mechanical plants. It gets a change in its structure and function readily. But the methods and techniques in handling them, and attitude about their use, and the adoption of machine products in society, are matters resting with non-material culture. The changes in the former that is material culture, are more rapid and earlier than those in the latter, the non-material culture. Even some material aspects are more prone to change than others, depending upon the nature of the object. This variability in various material and non-material elements of culture creates disharmony in their mutual organization. The mutual adjustment among material and non-material, material and material, and non-material and non-material elements is a problem of unequal changes in society One aspect advancing ahead and the other lagging behind, and this characteristic of culture is called ‘cultural lag’. Technology is advancing and the social institutions are lagging and not following the changes. In this modern age, for example, the vehicles are speedy and numerous while the roads are the zigzag and narrower. The population is rapidly increasing while the police force is not being recruited at the same proportion. Hence this characteristic of cultural lag is a hampering factor in social change; and creates social disorganization.
There are various customary ways in the life of people to follow, as rituals, ceremonies, etiquettes, manners, conventions and other behaviors for various other occasions. The customs get instilled into the nature of people as an essential part of their behavior and they hardly suffer change. This characteristic of custom is the real trait of customs and is called “hard cake of customs” by Dawson and Gettys, due to their unchanging quality. These customs are not independent and alone in culture, but they are a part of our normative order and are interrelated with the cultural institutions of our society. Hence their getting change is a problem of Cultural Anthropology.