June 1938
American Sociological Review;Jun38, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p320
Academic Journal
Circumstances such as the congested condition of the streets, the regular delay in the appearance of subject matter in secondary texts after its general acceptance, and scores of other cases, are evidences of lag and have been uncritically classified under that omnibus rubric. These and other cases range all the way from observable, repetitive occurrences, measured with a certain amount of accuracy, to instances in which the lag serves merely as an ethnocentric pronouncement, an opprobrious epithet of an enthusiastic liberal missionizing for a new cause. To clarify the concept it will be necessary to differentiate the situations to which the term is being applied. Analysis of its actual usage will reveal that there are at least three different types of lag, each based on different assumptions, and each one distinctive in validity and application. One type, the spurious lag will be differentiated from the true lags because of its dubious validity. The cultural lag hypothesis has enjoyed a popularity experienced by few other concepts. Cultural lag has been subjected to such criticism that some may be ready to abandon the term with the same celerity with which it was embraced.


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