William Fielding Ogburn

1886-1959

William Fielding Ogburn, "Cultural Lag"

Main concept(s)

  • remembered for : “cultural lag”
  • distinguish “material culture” from nonmaterial “adaptive” culture. Cf. here Marx on material and ideal, economic base vs. cultural superstructure.
    • Example: forests. Our cultural practices of planning, limiting cutting, etc. lag behind our ability to deforest. Cf. contemporary discussions about fossil fuels and conservation and alternatives. Image is that things have to get pretty bad before people change their values and practices.
  • Like Thomas, a healthy dose of “should” (vs. “is”) here.

Nice essay intro at 433.1-3:

The discussion will be presented according to the following outlines. First the hypothesis will be presented, then examined and tested by a rather full consideration of the facts of a single instance, to be followed by several illustrations. Next the nature and cause of the phenomenon of cultural maladjustment in general will be analyzed. The extent of such cultural lags will be estimated, and finally the significance for society will be set forth.

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