समाज शास्‍त्र / Sociology

What Is Cultural Diffusion | Types Of Diffusion | Barriers In Diffusion | Elements Of Cultural Diffusion | Stages Of Diffusion

What Is Cultural Diffusion | Types Of Diffusion | Barriers In Diffusion | Elements Of Cultural Diffusion | Stages Of Diffusion

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Meaning of Cultural diffusion

Diffusion denotes the spreading out, the propagation, the dissemination through time of phenomenon (E.g.- plants, idea, animals, culture, language, knowledge, innovation, technique)

  1. Gregory observes diffusion as ‘the spread of phenomenon on space and through time’.


In spatial studies diffusion has two distinct meanings:

  1. Expansion Diffusion
  2. Relocation Diffusion

1. Expansion Diffusion

It moves from one place to another through population of a place. Expansion diffusion involves information, material, culture, innovation, etc. spread from one place to another but the things being diffused remain and sometimes intensify in their place of origin. Thus new areas are added in time. The diffusion of an improved crop or industrial technology is the typical example of expansion diffusion.

Sub-types of Expansion diffusion includes:

  • Contagious Diffusion
  • Horizontal Diffusion
  • Hierarchical Diffusion
  • Cascade Diffusion
  1. Contagious Diffusion- Contagious diffusion is concerned with direct contact. It spread like contagious diseases, which pass through population from person to person. The effect of this process tends to decrease with increasing distance from the origin. The nearby individual or areas have much higher contact than those individuals or areas lying in remote. Thus, contagious diffusion tends to spread outward in the centrifuge manner from the place of origin.
  2. Hierarchical Diffusion­- In hierarchical or hierarchic diffusion the dispersal progresses up or down through a regular sequence of innovation diffusion. It usually moves down from higher to lower levels, such as from the metropolitan centers to remote rural villages through intermediate cities & towns.

2. Relocation Diffusion

Relocation diffusion is that process of spatial diffusion in which things being diffused leave the place or areas where they have originated because they move to new areas. Permanent migration of population from Europe to America, Australia, and South Africa, etc. is typical example of relocation diffusion.



  1. Place (origin) of center changes
  2. Time and distance plays an important role in the process of diffusion.


  1. Absorbing barriers- Such barriers destroy (absorb) the innovations and does not help to spread in the other areas.

E.g. Use of T.V. was private in S. Africa

  1. Permeable barrier- Such barriers instead of obstructions the flow of innovation checks its spread.
  2. Cultural barrier- Administrative and social setups work culture.
  3. Environmental barriers- Mountain, seas, deserts, etc.



There are numerous phenomenon in the world which has been spreading over extensive areas through time.

  1. Dispersal of Plants-

The present distribution of plants on the earth is the result of dispersal, migration, or diffusion of plants over time into ecologically suitable areas. Since plants do not have mobility like animals, their dispersal becomes effective through external agents mainly through the dispersal of seeds. When man begun his sedentary life he domesticated a few plants including sugarcane, paddy, cotton, wheat, pulses, flowers, etc. It is believed that the first domestication of plants of food crops was started in ancient cultures like S.E Asia, Mexico and Central America, China, India, and Mesopotamia etc.

  1. Dispersal of Animals-

It refers to the spreading of animals from the place of origin to other areas through time. Man is the most powerful and effective means of passive dispersal and transfer of animals from one place to another on the surface of earth. The transport of deer, rabbit and birds from Europe to New Zealand and transfer of several birds from Europe to N. America & S. America are the examples of such animal dispersal.

  1. Human Migration-

Human migration causes redistribution of population on both regional and global levels. According to time involved it may be permanent, semi-permanent, temporary, seasonal or daily. Spatially migration may be international or internal. The most important large scale international migration of human population occurred during seventeenth to early twentieth centuries. When the Europeans migrated to North America, South America, Australia, Africa and Asia for the purpose of colonization.

  1. Diffusion of Culture-

Culture is a total way of life of a human society. Language is the most important aspects of culture, which helps in its cultural accommodation and historical transmission. Diffusion of language is necessarily related with human migration. Religion is a set of beliefs and practices designated to human beings to achieve mental harmony with the power of the universe. There are some religions, which are spread worldwide. Major religions of the world includes Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

  1. Diffusion of Innovation-

Innovation means the introduction is new phenomenon. Any new phenomenon of innovation originates at a particular place and later on spreads outward from its original site by diffusion or dispersal.

Innovation is concerned with the making to changes, the introduction of processes, methods, technique and practices which are new in a particular context. The spread, movement or dispersal of innovation through space and time is known as innovation diffusion.

Innovation is concerned with the making to changes, the introduction of processes, methods, technique and practices which are new in a particular context. The spread, movement or dispersal of innovation through space and time is known as innovation diffusion.



Hagerstrand identified four types or stages in the passage of an innovation through an area. These stages are-

  1. Primary stage
  2. The diffusion stage
  3. Condensation stage, and
  4. Saturation stage

The innovation ratio shows the proportion of a population accepting the item.

  1. Primary stage- It is the first or beginning stage of the diffusion process. In this stage, centres of adoption are established and there is a great contrast between the centre of innovation and remote areas
  2. The Diffusion stage- The second stage is the diffusion stage in which the actual diffusion process starts. This stage is characterized by the creation of new and rapidly expanding centres of innovation in distant areas from the original source. The strong regional contrast, typical of the primary stage tends to decrease in this stage.
  3. The Condensation stage- This stage of diffusion process is characterized by a relative increase in number of acceptances which is equal in all location located within the area irrespective of distance from the source of innovation.
  4. The Saturation stage- The final, saturation stage is characterized by a slowing down and eventually cessation of the diffusion process. In this final stage, the new items or innovations are accepted throughout the country and there is very little regional variation.

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Major Religion Of The World – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism

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About the author

Kumud Singh

M.A., B.Ed.

1 Comment

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