Social Change with Respect to Culture and Original Nature

By William Fielding Ogburn | Go to book overview

4
DIFFICULTIES OF INVENTION AND OF DIFFUSION

Cultural forms may persist apparently because it is easier to use an existing form than it is to create a new one. The new idea is expressed in the old form. The Monroe Doctrine, as an expression of the foreign policy of America, was at the time of its origin a doctrine designed to protect the United States from the indirect aggression of foreign powers. It may very probably change its meaning, if the imperialistic sentiment in the United States should grow, and become an instrument for economic aggrandizement on the part of the United States. This old and revered doctrine of foreign policy might more easily be expressive of the new ideas of imperialism than some new document. Thus the difficulty of inventing and of getting the invention adopted and the ease of revaluing an old cultural form account for very striking persistences of culture. Lowie cites from Boas4 the use of

4 Franz Boas, “The Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay,” Bulletin, American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XVII (1907), pp. 75, 357.

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