Unit 3: Culture 👨👩👲👳💂
3.0: All About Culture!
Think about what defines your community and the people in it. What do the people in your community have in common with each other? What activities and values do you all have in common? Customs, beliefs, laws, social standards, and religious traditions are all examples of cultural values. In this unit, we will tackle a very complex yet simple question—what is culture?
Unit Preview (Try to answer these questions!)
How does the culture of an area affect the natural environment? 🌲
How does the culture of an area affect public perception of a region? 👀
Why are some areas more culturally diverse than others? 🗺️
What is globalization, and how does it affect local cultures in a given area? 🌍
How can culture affect the rights of women? 👩
How do cultures blend and interact with each other? 💬
Take a look at your neighborhood 🏡 or city skyline 🌆. What makes your community look different from others? The unique cultural landscape of an area is the impact of cultural ideas and beliefs on the physical environment. Observing cultural landscapes can help geographers better understand the culture of a place.
Sense of Place
Sense of Place refers to the relationship between people, their communities, and the physical environment. In other words, sense of place is the feeling of attachment towards a place. 🔗 Take a moment to answer this question: How does a strong sense of place affect where people choose to live?
Image Courtesy of InTech Open
What happens when a city or community does not have a unique cultural landscape? The term for when a community lacks a unique identity is called placelessness. In other words, a placeless city is indistinguishable from other similar places in its cultural landscape or appearance. For example, think about a gas station next to a major highway. Standardized gas stations across the United States are made to look the same. Thus, people lack a sense of attachment to these regions.
Image Courtesy of LS Retail
Globalization & Culture 🌏
Globalization 🌏 describes the increasing economic and political interconnectedness between different regions of the world. Globalization affects culture too, as it brings people and their ideas together. 👨💭👳 In some cases, this blending of cultures and ideas can be a positive force that creates new, syncretic cultures. On the other hand, globalization can hinder existing local cultures by promoting a globally mainstream culture. As more and more people adopt global culture for economic or social reasons, people practicing local cultures and languages will need to make a tough decision: either blend their culture with the mainstream or be forced out of existence.
Image Courtesy of JAN NEDERVEEN PIETERSE
Culture & Gender 👫
While global culture can bring ideas of equality and freedom to people across the world, many local cultures actively seek to decrease equality—especially for women. 👧 In some cultures, women are seen as inferior to men and prevented from taking on certain occupations. Since culture is passed down from generation 👶 to generation 👴👵 and ingrained in societies, it is often difficult to bring equality to women in many areas.
Types of Diffusion 💥📲📺💻✈💥
There are several ways in which culture can diffuse (spread) from its hearth (origin) to other places. To understand why English is widely spoken 💬 throughout the world, why Christianity ⛪ and Islam 🕌 have millions of followers, and why pop culture trends go viral 📱📈 on a regular basis, we use relocation 🏃and expansion diffusion (hierarchical, contagious, and stimulus).
Cultural Interactions 🌎👨👩👲👳🌎
Acculturation, assimilation, and multiculturalism all relate to how cultures spread and influence each other. Acculturation is when a culture adapts to the ideas of another dominant culture in an area. This results in a blending of cultures that mix elements of both. Assimilation occurs when people of one culture fully adopt the ideas of another culture, often leaving behind elements of their own culture. In response to this, a growing multiculturalism movement in multiethnic nations seeks to represent all cultures equally and ensure that all people can live in harmony.
Languages 🗣 & Religions 🛐
There are over 7,000 languages in the world today, but many are at risk of dying due to the increasing influence of English and other influential lingua francas. Globalization—coupled with enhanced communication 📱💻📶 and transportation ✈🚁🚀🚊🚅 technologies—places increased pressure on lesser-used languages and cultural practices due to increased interactions between previously isolated people groups.
The five major global religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Hinduism and Judaism haven’t spread far from their origin, but the other three—especially Christianity and Islam—are diffused throughout the world as a result of colonization, trade, and international migration. Like language, many world religions face a constant threat of losing followers due to the rise of cultural globalization.