The Role of Art in Influencing Cultural Change for a Society

The Role of Art in Influencing Cultural Change for a Society

Society is a complicated structure. Understanding the ins and outs of society as we know it will never be possible. The reason is that it’s an ever-changing macro-organism that grows and molds itself with time. We could have predicted society earlier, but with post-modernity becoming the order of the day, social change is tough to track.

However, we won’t be talking about modern society in this article. Well, maybe we will, just for reference. This article is going to be talking about cultural change and what affects it. We will specifically address various kinds of art and the profound role they have on society’s culture.

Defining art is a complicated process. However, in this article, we will be talking about literature, art, music, and theatre as an influencing factors of society as we know it. By the end of this read, you should better understand how certain kinds of art affect it.

Literature and socio-cultural change

What would Florentine culture be without the Divine Comedy? Remove Dante from the picture, and a solid chunk of culture gets taken away from Florence. The works of these great writers have changed the way we see society forever.

They have added myths, mysticism, and folklore to the culture that is still very active even in modern times. Some writers add a historical element to their work. Shakespeare and his work on Julius Caesar is an apparent merger of history and literature.

Understanding history is a critical factor in understanding societal change. You can dive deep into this subject if you have the relevant knowledge of it. To understand history, art, and how it connects to different cultures, you should register for a bachelor of arts in history online degree to see how historical references laid the foundations for growth and showed us patterns of how people react to certain events.

Art through paintings and figures

There should be no doubt that some artists were ahead of their time. They were more intelligent, talented, and braver than the average person and never hesitated to show it. Once again, going back to Roman and Italian culture, where would the social culture stand without Michael Angelo and Da Vinci’s work.

In the grander scheme of things, do you realize the profound effect these works of art have on Italy’s economy? Tourism would boom centuries later and contribute to a significant chunk of the countries revenue.

Moreover, art helps us understand what that time was like. It gives us an emotional understanding of what war was and how atrocious some of the socio-political ideas were during that time. One of the best examples might be none other than that of Picasso himself.

Guernica is perhaps the most famous anti-war painting in the world. The depiction shows the atrocities that took place during the Spanish Civil War.

War Literature and Anti-War artwork deserve as many honorable mentions as they can get. Both literature and visual art have raised awareness of how brutal the war was for millions of people and how it should never happen again.

Only through writing and visuals can we understand the sheer emotions of such events. Thus creating a culture of anti-war propaganda, the likes of which the world might have never seen before.

Music and its influence on society

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we didn’t have anthems of peace? How would we unite people without songs? John Lennon played an integral part in the promotion of peace in the ’70s and ’80s. ‘Imagine’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’ would unite people in times of crisis and lead to a societal cohesiveness that will forever be remembered.

Less profoundly, we can see how music has influenced and played such a massive role in pop culture. Music both integrates pop culture and creates it as it goes. It also plays a part in normalizing and promoting certain things that we had never seen before.

Grunge and Rap began in the ’90s partly through the influence of MTV. The MTV revolution gave rise to a diverse range of musical genres that are now integral parts of music as we know it.

Moreover, with these musical influences, entire sub-cultures were formed. We can see it in the way kids in the 90’s dress, what they did and how they behaved. ‘Punks,’ ‘Stoners,’ and ‘Goths’ were just some of the prominent sub-cultures that came about through musical influences.

Movies, series, documentaries, and everything related

Over time, certain movies, plays, and documentaries have played a profound role in shaping society’s culture. A cultured individual was once considered someone who was well versed in sports, dramas, and literature. In recent times, movies are both been a source of entertainment and education for the general public.

Hollywood has given us a diverse cultural change that has had a more significant impact than any art mentioned above. Imagine how we know New York culture so well, despite many of never having been there.

Imagine how a mere theme park (Disney World) attracts people from all around the globe. Once again showing us the potential for revenue generation through tourism.

Moreover, several documentaries have raised awareness about the socio-cultural issues of our time. Global warming, women’s issues, and racism have all been depicted in countless educational documentaries.

These have helped us understand the issues better and change the way we think. Women’s problems may not have seen the progress they have without the influence of TV and the mass media; the same goes for African-Americans and their struggle for rights in the US.


Now that we have talked about the cultural impact of art, you should identify factors around you that influence society. Modern arts, theatre, and music still have the same effect on society as they did all those centuries ago.

Artists are nothing short of revolutionaries in modern times. They were shaping the culture of society and promoting new norms. However, this has a downside as well. Propaganda and anti-social activity are on the rise like never before. Some claim that music and TV have made children more violent than they have ever been.

Like everything, art is misused. It is indeed a double-edged sort because of the profound effect on society as we know it. As creators and consumers, it’s up to us to streamline the artistic messages and make the most out of them. Siphon out the bad, bring in the good, and change society for the better. Art is a powerful weapon. It’s for us to use it for the greater good.

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