As to the origins of folklore, Bascom theorizes that any story must be invented by some individual, and it is either accepted or rejected by the group because it does or does not fill a need. Acceptance or rejection of an item is also contingent on its compatibility “with the accepted patterns and traditions of folklore of a culture as a whole.”
In the course of retelling a story, experience shows that changes occur, and the piece is again subject to acceptance or rejection. “As this process continues, each new invention is adapted gradually to the needs of the society and to the pre-existing culture patterns, which may themselves be modified somewhat to conform to the new invention.”
Accordingly, folklore spreads from one society to another. It is then again subject to acceptance, rejection, or adaptation.
Bascom says that every culture, including our own American culture, depends in part on folklore for the maintenance of its continuity. This is evidenced by the fact that much of our communion is composed of repetition of familiar ideas expressed in a familiar form. New ways of expressing ideas which have what Adams calls an “artistic and structured” form, and are passed on from person to person, may become types of folklore.