Influencing Cultures

Influencing Cultures


This lesson is about cultures and factors that can influence social change. The following are some definitions that you may find useful.

*Culture: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time (popular culture, southern culture)

*Society: a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests

*Definitions are taken from Merriam-Webster online.


Many internal and external factors can affect a community, change the way it lives, and even change deep-rooted cultural practices. Go to and read At Remote Eskimo School, Yearning for the Lower 48, where you will learn about the younger generation of a community that is looking for change. As you read this article, think about these questions:

  • Describe the Yupik village, where it is, and what makes it different from how most Americans live.
  • How would you describe traditional Yupik culture?
  • What are the influences of social change in this community and who is leading the change?
  • How do you think Yupik culture will change in the future?
  • What factors do you think could influence or affect social change in any community? Can you speak of any from first-hand experience?

Now, go to Journey to the Hidden Kingdom. When you are done with that article, click on Did You Know? As you explore these two sites, keep these questions in mind:

  • How would you describe the people of Bhutan?
  • How has the nation kept out outside influences?
  • Refer to the list on the white or blackboard. How does Bhutan’s culture compare to what is on the board under elements of culture?
  • Do you think television and the Internet will cause change among the people in Bhutan? If so, what kind of change?

Now go to Perspectives from Bhutan: The Impact of Television. Explore the whole site. After you click on each of the top four boxes, click on the people’s pictures that run vertically down the page. Keep these questions in mind as you explore this site:

  • From the statements you read, what is your sense about how television has affected the people of Bhutan?
  • How do you think television will change society in Bhutan? Do you think it will change the culture of Bhutan? How?

Now, read an article from 2003 in the Guardian, Fast Forward into Trouble. This article takes a look at changes in Bhutan four years after television was introduced. Answer this question: "Were you surprised by the changes in Bhutan? Why or why not?"Check with your teacher before continuing.

Knowledge Check

Write a 600-word essay that addresses some or all of these points:

  • Describe how mass media such as television and the Internet can affect a society. Give one or more examples.
  • Do you think there is a difference in how mass media will affect the first generation that experiences it, as opposed to later generations? Give examples.
  • How does one culture influence another? Describe how television can deliver Western influences.
  • Using example(s), describe how other cultures influence Western society. For example, where did Americans learn about yoga and meditation, a way of life to which some Americans subscribe? Refer to the lists you created at the beginning of class for ideas.


This esheet is a part of the Influencing Cultures lesson.

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