Culture and Cultural Change

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Culture and Cultural
Change
Geography 107
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culture: the body of customary beliefs, social forms, and material
traits constituting a distinct complex of tradition of a racial, religious,
or social group
cultural landscape: visible evidence of our tastes, values,
aspirations, and fears
innovation: introduction of new ideas, objects, or technologies that
generally originate within the culture group. Traditional and low
technology societies generally not as innovative as modern, urban
ones.
cultural lag: when a social group is slow to adopt innovations and
to adapt to changing circumstances. Generally leads to a
competitive disadvantage with competing regional peoples.
example: African droughts associated with ice ages stimulated
hunting technology changes in our modern human ancestors.
diffusion: the process by which an idea or innovation is transmitted
across geographic space
relocation diffusion occurs via carriers who relocate
expansion diffusion spreads to areas neighboring the source
through contact and exchange of information.
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hierarchical diffusion: ideas leapfrog from one influential person
to another, or from one urban center to another, bypassing rural
areas
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stimulus diffusion: where a specific trait is rejected, but the
underlying idea is accepted
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examples: new modes of dress, hairstyles, language
example of Siberian Chukchi domesticating reindeer, but only after observing
horses and cattle domesticated by peoples south of them
distance decay: the declining intensity of any activity, process, or
function with increasing distance from its point of origin
absorbing barrier: something that halts diffusion
permeable barrier: a barrier that allows part of the innovation to
diffuse through but acts to weaken and retard the continued spread
sigmoidal adoption
acculturation: the process of adopting some aspect of another
culture
Forces in cultural development:
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Endogenous factors: elements of the specific local
environment or of local cultural history (site, region specific)
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Exogenous factors: the influence of elements of other
places/regions (situation)
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Which of the above two were most significant 5,000-10,000 years
ago?
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Which has become increasingly more significant in more recent
times?
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Through trade, global communication, and transportation, the
balance has shifted to exog. factors, away from engog. factors.
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