Cultural Diffusion Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

Have you ever wondered how a dance or phrase catches on and becomes popular between many different cultures? This lesson plan explores such a method called cultural diffusion. Students will watch a video, participate in discussion questions, play a jeopardy style game and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

  • define 'cultural diffusion'
  • identify various forms of cultural diffusion
  • discuss the impact of cultural diffusion on societies


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.



  • expansion diffusion
  • contagious diffusion
  • hierarchical diffusion
  • stimulus diffusion
  • relocation diffusion
  • internet memes
  • cultural trends


  • Begin the lesson by asking students to discuss how the internet impacts culture. Ask them to discuss how culture has become more diversified with technology. Allow students to respond, writing some of their key points on the board.
  • Then tell students they are going to learn more about a concept called cultural diffusion.
  • Start the Cultural Diffusion: Definition, Expansion & Popular Cultures video, pause at 00:54 and pose the following questions:
    • Describe an internet meme that you have recently sent or received.
    • What type of professionals study culturally-distributed ideas?
  • Restart the video, pause at 01:33 and discuss with students:
    • How is cultural diffusion similar to viral videos?
    • Identify content that has gone viral but changed slightly as it reached different countries.
    • Provide an example of expansion diffusion.
    • List the three types of expansion diffusion.
  • Restart the video, pause at 02:13 and pose these questions to the class:
    • The video provided an example of contagious diffusion. Can you think of another?
    • Do you believe hierarchical diffusion can be controlled by the government? Explain.
    • Did cultural diffusion exist before the internet? If so, explain how.
  • Afterwards, play the remainder of the video and assign the following questions:
    • What is relocation diffusion?
    • What is the difference between folk and pop culture.
    • Describe the impact of the internet on cultural diffusion.
  • Distribute the lesson quiz and allow student to complete it in pairs or individually. Review the answers to the quiz as a class before moving on to the activity.

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