Cultural transmission refers to the process of passings on culture from one generation/member to another. Different elements of culture are transmitted in three ways:
(i) From one generation to the next;
(ii) Amongst members of different cultures;
(iii) Amongst members of the same culture.
Culture becomes cumulative due to its transmissive quality. With the passage of time, new ideas, beliefs, knowledge and techniques are added to the existing culture. Certain old ideas and traits which become irrelevant are dropped. For example, gas based cooking system is gradually replacing the coal and wood based system in India. Cultural accumulation through the process of transmission enables people to build upon the past achievements.
Cultural transmission occurs both vertically and horizontally. Youngsters learn cultural behaviors from their parents, teachers and other role models; Elders also adopt some of the new traits of youngsters who are the trend setters. For example, older people visit fast food joints for Pizza and old women are switching to more convenient pants and salwars in place of saree. We also learn new habits, styles and traits from out contemporaries. People of all ages adopt new thinking and new ways of doing things. New food habits, new dress styles, new methods of recreation are fast spreading in India. Thus, culture spreads in all directions.
Cultural transmission takes place through various media of communication. Films, cable TV, advertising, literature and word of mouth publicity are the main means of cultural transmission.