Introduction to Geography

Chapter 4: Cultural Geography
Cultural Geography
Describes everything about the way people live:
Artifacts “a thing made by skill”
Customs – patterns of behavior
Interpersonal arrangements, family structure,
educational methods
Culture is not static – constantly changing
Forces of cultural change
Evolutionism - sources of change are embedded in
Diffusionism – cultures spread and are adapted
Theories of Cultural Evolution
Theory of human stages
Marcus Tarentius Varro (Roman General 116-27 B.C.)
• Hunter-gatherers
• Pastoral nomadism
 Transhumanance – regular and seasonal movements
• Settled agriculture
• Subsistence and commercial agriculture
Historical materialism – technology has increased human’s
control over the environment
Karl Marx – founder of theory
Technology and human progressive control of the environment
would increase abundance for all
Cornucopian View Conflicts with Malthusianism
Cultures and Environments
Environmental determinism - human events can be entirely
explained by the effects of the environment
Cultural ecology - societies adapt to their environment
Challenge-response theory (Toynbee) – a difficult
environment causes people to build a civilization
Possibilism - Physical environment influences, but does not
control, human events, choices and constraints are based on cultural,
economic, political and technological factors
Cultural Diffusion (Causes)
Global communication, transportation, trade
Circulation – interconnectedness, use of materials from
around the world
Clark Wissler
Geographical culture centers
• Places where cultures are developed
One of the founders of cultural anthropology, professor at Yale
Diffusion does not explain all distributions – phenomenon
can occur independently & spontaneously (concept of zero
conceived by Mayans and Hindus)
Folk Culture
Cultures that preserve traditions – often bound by
distinctive, religion, nationality, or language
Conservative, resistant to change, distinctive religions
Urban folk cultures
Immigrant groups – preserving native culture
Diffusion of house types in the US
Popular Culture
Culture of people who embrace innovation and
conform to changing norms
Rapid diffusion
Mass culture
Food, clothing, items that are mass produced
“Mass taste” = some loss of individuality and cultural
Geographic variation of market penetration
Marketing of popular culture
Identity & Behavioral Geography
Culture groups
Few or many characteristics in common (can share
language or many characteristics)
Subculture – Italian Americans, Eagles Fans
Races - concept is open to question
Humans are a single species
Secondary biological characteristics – blood types (eat right for
your type)
Ethnic groups
Ethnocentrism – judging other cultures by one’s own standards
Behavioral Geography
Subfield of cultural geography
Studies our perception of the world around us and how
our perception influences our behavior
Walter Lippman
World outside – the way things really are
Pictures in our head – may be based on preconceptions
Cognitive Behavioralism theory
People react to the environment as they perceive it
Culture Realms (Regions) – entire area
where a culture prevails
Delineation/ definition of regions
Visual clues
Settlement patterns
Regionalism – share
particular characteristics
Trade & Cultural Diffusion
Stabilizing forces
Infrastructure – people’s fixed assets in a place (pipelines,
highways, airports, housing, etc.)
Inertia –the force that keeps things stable
Historical Geography – studies the past and how geographical
distributions have changed
Impact of trade
Economic geography – study of how people make their living, how
economies develop, and what people trade.
Historical Consciousness – a people sense of their own
Impact of World Trade
Self sufficiency /cultural isolation - usually
accompany each other
Trade & cultural change
Systems of production and change
Felt needs – things people begin to think they need
Specialization of production – trade leads to this.
Acceleration of Diffusion
Travel and transportation
Friction of distance has decreased over the last two
hundred years
Movement of information
Annihilation of space caused by the electronic highway
Cyberspace – extension of reality through global
electronic means
Clash of civilizations
Shatterbelts – areas where distinct cultures meet might
experience virtually unending strife.
Relative World Coverage in New
York Times for two months in 2003
European Culture
Pervasive Western model
Consumer goods
Presumption of superiority
Acculturation of Western life
Voyages of Contact
World exploration and conquest
Impact of Chinese initiative
European seaborne empires
Commercial Revolution
Global diffusion
Europe as clearinghouse of info and products
Relocation of goods and services
Major European Voyages of
Europe’s Increased Power
Industrial Revolution (1750-1850 in Europe)
Increased productivity
Steam Engine
Exploration and conquest
Stimulated industry
Money economy
• Creation of stock markets
Agricultural Revolution
Created labor supply for industry
Cultural Imperialism – substitution of one set
of cultural traditions for another, by force or be degrading
those who fail to acculturate
Systematic eradication of native culture – government
schools, Christian missionaries
Imposition of Western culture
Reference group behavior – people who wish to belong to the
dominant group abandon their traditions
Japan, China, Turkey – to some degree saved them from western
Internal colonialism – westernized elite
Westernization Today
Dress and lifestyle as status symbols – young and
wealthy are often the most cosmopolitan
Role of media
Implanting Western values
• TV programs, movies, videos
Tourism – indigenous people exposed to western
culture, often make places tourist friendly
Education – elite educated at western Universities
America’s Role
World view of America
Military power
Role of global peacekeeper (troops in 148 countries, 2001)
Sole superpower – spends more money on defense than next ten
leading countries combined
Economic power
About one quarter of world economy
Popular culture
Most recognized brands
Challenging local traditions
Political influence
Vocab Chapter 4
Custom – repetitive act of the group, performed so
that it becomes a characteristic of a group
Habit – a repetitive act that a particular individual
Taboo – restriction on behavior caused by a social
Terroir – French term referring to the contribution
of a location’s distinctive physical features to the
way food tastes

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