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What is Culture?
*Culture means the arts (literature, painting,
music, etc.)
*Culture is the specialized behavioral
patterns, understanding, and adaptions that
summarize the way of life of a group of people.
In this broader sense, culture is as much a part
of the regional differentiation of the earth as
our topography, climate, and other aspects of
physical environment.
Components of Culture
Culture is transmitted within a society to
succeeding generations by imitation,
instruction, and example. It is learned, not
biological, and has nothing to do with instinct
or with genes. As members of social group,
individuals acquire integrated sets of
behavioral patterns, environmental and social
perceptions, and knowledge of existing
technologies. Of necessity, we learn the culture
in which we are born and reared.
A culture displays a social structure-
framework of roles and interrelationships of
individuals and established groups. Despite
overall generalized and identifying
characteristics and even outward appearance
of uniformity, a culture is not homogeneous.
Culture is a complexly interlocked web of
behaviors and attitudes. Realistically, its full
and diverse content cannot be appreciated, and
in fact may be wholly misunderstood, if we
concentrate our attention only on limited,
obvious traits.
Fundamental Cultural Variables
1.Culture traits
-are units of learned behavior ranging from the
language spoken to the tools used or to the games
2. Culture complex
- an individual culture traits that are functionally
3. A culture system
may be recognized as a larger spatial reality and
generalization. Multiethnic societies, perhaps further
subdivided by linguistic differences, varied food
preferences, and a host of other internal
4.Culture region
a portion of the earth's surface occupied by
people sharing recognizable and distinctive
cultural characteristics.
-political organizations societies devise, their
religions, their form of economy, their clothing,
eating utensils, housing
5.Culture realms-
are, in a sense, culture regions at the broadtest
scale of generalization.
Interaction of People And
Environments as Controls
Environmental determinism-the belief that the
physical environment by itself shapes humans, their
actions, and their thoughts. The cultural variations that
occur around the world are not determined by a
society`s physical surroundings.
Possibilism is the viewpoint that people, not
environments, are the dynamic forces of cultural
development. The needs, traditions, and technological
level of a culture affect how that culture both assesses
the possibilities of an area and shapes the choices that
it makes regarding them.
Human Impacts
Geography, including cultural geography, examines
both the reactions of people to the physical
environment and their impact on that environment.
By using it, we modify our environment in part,
through the material objects we place on the
landscape: cities, farms, roads, and so on. The
cultural landscape, the earth's surface as modified
by human action, is the tangible, physical record of
a given culture. House types, transportation
networks, parks and cemeteries, and the size and
distribution of settlements are among indicators of
the use that humans have made of the land.
The Technological Subsystem
Is composed of the material objects and the
techniques of their use by means of which people are
able to live. Such objects are the tools and other
instrument that enable us to feed, clothe, house,
defend, transport, and amuse ourselves.
*Examination of variations in culture and in the manner
of human existence from place to place centers on a
series of commonplace questions: How do the people
in an area make a living? What resources and what
tools- what artifacts do they use to feed, clothe, and
house themselves? Is a larger percentage of the
population engaged in agriculture than in
Do people travel to work in cars, on bicycles, or
on foot? Do they shop for food or grow their
own? For most of human history, people lived
by hunting & gathering, taking the bounty of
nature with only minimal dependence on
weaponry, implements, & the controlled use of
fire. Their adaptive skills were great, but their
technological level was low. They had few
specialized tools, could exploit only a limited
range of potential resources, & had little no
control of nonhuman sources of energy.
In technologically advanced countries, many
people are employed in manufacturing or allied
service trades. Per capita incomes tend to be
high, as do levels of education & nutrition, life
expectancies, & medical services. The gross
national incomes or GNI (which measures the
total domestic & foreign value added of all the
goods & services claimed by residents of a
country during a year) of these countries are
much lower than those industrialized states.
The Sociological Subsystem
Is the sum of those expected and
accepted patterns of interpersonal relations
that find their outlet in economic, political,
military, religious, kindship, and other
*Continuum and change also characterize the
religious, political, formal and informal
education, and other institutions that
constitute the sociological subsystem of
* There are no “givens” as far as patterns of
interaction in any of these associations are
concerned, except that most cultures posses a
variety of formal and informal ways of
structuring behavior. The importance to the
society of the differing behavior sets varies
among, & constitutes obvious differences
between, cultures. Social institutions are
closely related to the technological system of a
culture group. Thus, hunnter-guthers have one
set of institutions; industrial societies have
quite different ones.
The revolution in food production occasioned
by & animal domestication beginning around
10,000 years touched off a social trans-
formation that include increase population,
urbanization, work specialization, & structure
differentiation within the society. Culture is a
complexly intertwined whole. Each
organizational form or institution affects, & is
affected by, related culture traits & complexes
in intricate & variable views.
The Ideological Subsystem
This subsystem is consists of the ideas, beliefs,
and knowledge as well as the ways we express
these things in our speech & other forms of
communication. Mythologies, theologies, legend,
literature, philosophy, folk, wisdom, and
commonsense knowledge make up this category.
The interlocking nature of all aspects of a culture is
termed cultural integration. Cultural Integration
means that any cultural object or act may have a
number of meanings. A dwelling , for example, I an
artifact providing shelter for its occupants.
Culture Change
The recurring theme of cultural geography is change.
No culture is, or has been, characterized by a
permanently fixed of material objects, systems of
organization, or even ideology although all of these
may be long-enduring within a state isolated society.
Such isolation & stability have always been rare.
Implies change to a culture that result from ideas
created within the social group itself and adopted by
the culture. The novelty may be an invented
improvement in material technology, such as the
bow & arrow or the jetegine.
It may involve the development of nonmaterial
forms of social structure & interaction: feudalism
or Christianity, for example. Pre- modern &
traditional societies characteristically are not
innovative or receptive to change. In societies at
equilibrium with their environment & with no
unmet needs, change has no adaptive value & has
no reason to occur. Indeed, all societies have an
innate resistance to change, since innovation
inevitably creates tension between the new
reality & other established socioeconomic
conditions. Those tensions can be resolve only by
adaptive changes elsewhere in the total system.
Innovation- invention- frequently under stress,
has marked the history of humankind. An
expanded food base accompanied the pressures
of growing populations at the end of the Ice Age.
All innovation has radiating impact upon the
web of culture; the more basic the innovation,
the more pervasive its consequences. The source
regions of such social & technical revolutions
were initially spatially confined. The term
culture heart is used to describe those restricted
areas of innovation from which key culture
elements diffused to exert an influence on
surrounding regions.
In most modern societies, innovative change
has become a common, expected, & inevitable,
though it may be rejected by some of their
separate culture groups. The rate of invention,
at least as measured by the number of patents
granted, has steadily increased & the period
between idea conception and product
availability has been decreasing. A general
axiom is that the more ideas available & the
more minds able to exploit & combine them,
the greater the rate of innovation.
The spatial implication that larger urban centers
of advanced economies tend to be centers of
innovation, not just because of the # of ideas
interchanged. Indeed, ideas not only stimulate
new ideas but also create circumstances in which
new solutions must be developed to maintain the
forward momentum. Of the society.
Spatial diffusion is the process by which a
concept, a practice, an innovation, or a substance
spreads from its point of origin to a new
territories. Diffusion can assume a variety of
forms, but basically two processes involved.
It is not always possible to determine whether
the existence of a culture trait in two different
areas is the result of diffusion or of independent
(or parallel) innovation. Cultural similarities do
not necessarily prove that spatial diffusion has
occurred. All cultures are amalgams of
innumerable innovations spread spatially from
their points of origin & integrated into the
structure of the receiving societies. It has been
estimated that no more than 10% of the cultural
items of any society are traceable to innovations
created by its members & that the other 90% come
to society through diffusion.
Barriers to diffusion do exist. Generally, the
closer & the more similar two cultural areas are to
one another, the lower those barriers are and the
greater is the likelihood of the adoption of an
innovation because diffusion is a selective process.
The process of the fusion old & new, called
syncretism, is a major feature of cultural change. It
can be seen in alterations to religious ritual &
dogma made by convert societies seeking
acceptable conformity between old & new beliefs.
For example, slaves brought voodoo from West
Africa to the Americas where it thrived in Haiti &
Is the process by which one culture group
undergoes a major modification by adopting many
of the characteristics of another, usually dominant,
culture group. In practice, acculturation may involve
changes in the original cultural patterns of either or
both of two groups involve in prolonged firsthand
contact. Such contact and subsequent cultural
alteration may occur in a conquered or colonized
region. Very often, the subordinate or subject
population is forced to acculturate or does so
voluntarily, overwhelmed by the superiority in
numbers or technical level of conqueror.
Cultural Diversity
We have learned that the distinctive make up of
those subsystems-the combinations & interactions
of traits & complexes characteristic of particular
cultures- is subjected to, & the product of, change
through innovation, spatial diffusion, adoption, &
acculturation. Those processes of cultural
development & alteration have not, however, led to
homogenized world culture, even after thousands
of years of cultural contact & exchange since the
origins of agriculture.
Our concerns as geographers is to identify the traits
of a culture that have spatial expression & to indicate
how that a culture is significantly different from
other culture complexes. As geographers concerned
with world systems, we are interested in those
aspects of culture that vary over extensive regions of
the world & differentiate societies in a broad,
summary fashion. Language, religion, ethnicity &
gender meet our criteria & are among the most
prominent of the differentiating culture traits of
societies & regions. Language & religion are basic
components of culture, helping identify who & what
are as individuals & clearly placing us within larger
communities of persons with similar characteristics.
Define simply as an organized system of speech
by which people communicate with each other
with mutual comprehension, is the most
important medium by which culture is
transmitted. Language enable parents to teach
their children what the world they live in like &
what they must do to become functioning
members of society. Some argue that the language
of a society structure the perceptions of its
By the words it contains & the concepts it can
formulate, language is said to determine the
attitudes, the understandings & the responses
of the society. Language, therefore, can be both
a cause & a symbol of a cultural differentiation.
Language Spread and Change
Language spread as a geographic event
represents the increase or relocation through
time in the area over which a language is
Comparable changes occur normally & naturally
within a single language in word meaning,
pronunciation, vocabulary & syntax(the way
words are put together in a phrases & sentences).
Because they are gradual, such changes tend to go
unremarked, yet cumulatively they can result in
language change so great that, in the course of
centuries, an essentially new language has been
created. Language is rarely a total barrier to
communication between peoples.
Vernacular-nonstandard language or dialect
adopted by the social group.
A Pigdin is an amalgam of languages, usually a
simplified form of one of them.
Creole Languages have proved useful integrative
tools in linguistically diverse areas.
Lingua franca- is an established language use
habitually for communication by people whose
native tongues are mutually incomprehensible.
For them, it is a second language one learned in
addition to native tongue.
Language and Culture
Language embodies the culture complex of a people,
reflecting both environment & technology.
Toponyms-place-names-are language on the land,
that record of past & present cultures whose
namings endure as reminders of their passing &
their existence.
Toponomy-the study of place-names, therefore, is a
revealing tool of historical cultural geography.
Is a less- pronounced identifier or transmitter
of culture than is language, but even in
secular societies religion may influence
economic activities, legal systems, holiday
observances,& the like. Spatial patterns of
religion are distinct & reveal past histories
of migration, conquest, & diffusion. Those
patterns are important components in the
spatially distinctive cultural landscapes
created in response to various religious
belief systems.
Classification and Distribution of Religions
Religions are cultural innovations. They may be unique to a
single culture group, closely related to the faiths professed
in nearby areas, or derived from identical to belief
systems spatially far removed. Although interconnections
& derivations among religions can frequently be
discerned- as Christianity and Islam can trace descent
from Judaism- family groupings are not useful in
classifying religions as they are studying languages. A
distinction between monotheism, belief in a single deity,
and polytheism, belief in many gods, is frequent but not
particularly spatially relevant. It is more useful for the
spatial interests of geographers to categorize religions as
universalizing, ethnic, or tribal(traditional).
Christianity, Islam, & Buddhism are major
universalizing religions, faiths that claim
applicability to all humans and that seek to
transmit their beliefs to all lands through
missionary work and conversion.
Membership in universalizing religions is
open to anyone who chooses to make a
symbolic commitment, such as baptism in
Christianity. No one is excluded because of
nationality, ethnicity, or previous religious
Ethnic religions- have strong territorial and
cultural group identification. One usually
becomes a member of an ethnic religion by
birth or by adoption of a complex lifestyle &
cultural identity, not by a simple declaration of
faith. These religions do not usually
proselytize(convert nonbelievers), & their
members form distinctive closed communities
identified with a particular ethnic group,
region. Or political unit. To be a part of religion
is to be immersed in the totality of the culture
* Judaism, Indian Hinduism, Japanese Shinto
Tribal(or traditional) religions- are special forms of
ethnic religions distinguished by their small size,
their unique identity, with localized culture groups
not yet fully absorbed into modern society, & their
close ties nature.
*Animism- is the name given to their belief that life
exists in all objects, form rocks & trees to lakes &
mountains, or that such objects are abode of the
dead, of spirits, & of gods.
*Shamanism- is a form of tribal religion that involves
community acceptance of shaman who, through
special powers, can intercede with & interpret the
spirit world.
The Principal Religions
Each major religions has its own unique mix of
cultural values & expressions, each has had its own
pattern of innovation and spatial diffusion, and
each has had its own impact on the cultural
landscape. Together, they contribute importantly
to the worldwide pattern of human diversity.
Judaism- is a distinctively ethnic religion, the
determination factors of which are descent from
Israel(the patriarch Jacob) the Torah(law &
scripture), & the traditions of culture and faith.
had its own origin in the life & teachings of
Jesus, a Jewish preacher of the 1st century of
the modern era, whom his followers
believed was the Messiah promised by God.
The new covenant he preached was not a
rejection of traditional Judaism but a
promise of salvation to all humankind,
rather than to just a chosen people.
springs the same Judaic roots as Christianity and
embodies many of the same beliefs : there is only
one God, who can be revealed from human to
prophets; Adam was the first human; Abraham
was one of his descendants. Mohammed is revered
as the prophet of Allah (God) , succeeding and
completing the work of the earlier prophets of
Judaism and Christianity, including Moses, David
and Jesus. The Koran the word of Allah revealed to
Mohammed, contains not only the rules of worship
& details of doctrine but also instructions on the
conduct of human affairs.
Muslims Five pillars of faith:
1. Repeated saying of the basic creed;
2. Prayers 5 times daily facing Mecca;
3. A month of daytime fasting(Ramadan);
4. Almsgiving;&
5. If possible, a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Mosque- place of worship, community
clubhouse, meeting hall, and school.
is the world’s oldest major religion. Though it has no
datable founding event or initial prophet, some
evidence traces its origin back 4000 or more years.
Hinduism is an ethnic religion, an intricate web of
religious, philosophical, social, economic, and artistic
elements constituting and distinctive Indian
civilization. There is no common creed, single
doctrine, or central ecclesiastical organization
defining the Hindu. A Hindu is one born into a caste, a
member of a complex social and economic as well as
religious community. Hinduism accepts and
incorporates all forms of beliefs; adherents may
believe in one God or many or none.
The caste (meaning birth) structure of society is
an expression of the eternal transmigration of the
souls. The practice of Hinduism is rich with rites &
ceremonies, festivals & feast, processions & ritual
gatherings of literally millions of celebrants. It
involves careful observance of food and marriage
rules and the performance of duties within the
framework of the caste system. Worship in the
temples and shrines that are found in every village
and the leaving of offerings to secure merit from
the gods are required. The temples, shrines, daily
rituals & worship numerous specially
garbed or marked holy men & ascetics, and ever –
present sacred animals mark the cultural
landscape of Hindu societies, a landscape infused
with religious symbols and sights that are part of a
total cultural experience.
- the largest & most influential of the dissident
movement is Buddhism, a universalizing faith
founded in the 6th century B.C. in northern India by
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha (“Enlightened
One”). The Buddha’s teachings were more moral
philosophy that offered an explanation for evil &
human suffering than a formal religion.
He viewed the road to enlightenment & salvation to
lie in understanding the “four noble truths”:
existence involves suffering; suffering is the result
of desire; pain ceases when desire is destroyed;
the destruction of desires comes through
knowledge of correct behavior & correct thoughts
the Buddha instructed his followers to carry his
message as missionaries of a doctrine open to all
castes, for no distinction among people was
East Asian Ethnic Religions
The Far Eastern ethnic religions are syncretisms,
combinations of different forms of belief &
practice. In China, the union was with
Confucianism & Taoism, themselves becoming
intermingled by the time of Buddhism’s arrival, &
in Japan, it was with Shinto, a polytheistic animism
and shamanism. Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu), a
compiler of traditional wisdom who lived about
the same time as Gautama Buddha, emphasized
the importance of proper conduct between ruler &
subjects & between family members.
There are no churches or clergy in Confucianism,
though its founder believed in a heaven seen in
naturalistic terms, & the Chinese custom of
ancestors worship a mark as a mark of gratitude &
respect was encouraged. Confucianism was joined
by, or blended with, Taoism, an ideology that,
according to legend, was 1st taught by Lao Tsu in
the 6th century B.C. its central theme is Tao(the
Way), a philosophy teaching that eternal
happiness lies in total identification with nature &
deploring passion, unnecessary invention,
unneeded knowledge, & governmental
interference in the simple life of individuals.
Any discussion of cultural diversity would be
incomplete without the mention of ethnicity.
Based on the root word ethnos, meaning
“people” or “nation”, the term is usually used to
refer to the ancestry of a particular people who
have in common distinguishing characteristics
associated with their heritage. No single traits
denotes ethnicity. Recognition of ethnic
communities may be based on language,
religion, national origin, unique customs, or
improperly, ill-defined concept of “race”
Ethnicity, therefore, is an evidence of areal
cultural diversity & a reminder that culture
regions are rarely homogenous in the
characteristics displayed by all of their
Territorial segregation- a strong & sustaining
trait of ethnic identity, one that assists group to
retain their distinction.
Gender and Culture
Gender-refers to socially created- not biologically
based- distinctions between femininity &
masculinity. Gender distinctions are complex, &
the role & reward assignments of males & females
differ from society. In many fundamental ways
those assignments are conditioned by a really
different levels of economic development. Hunting
& gathering cultures observed a general
egalitarianism; each sex had a respected,
productive, coequal role in the kinship group.
Gender is the most involve & changeable in
agricultural societies . The Agricultural Revolution
The Agricultural Revolution- a major change in
technological subsystem- altered the earlier
structure of gender- related responsibilities. In
the hoe agriculture that was the 1st advance
over hunting & gathering & is today found in
much of sub-Saharan Africa & in South &
Southeast Asia, women became responsible for
most of the actual fieldwork, while retaining
their traditional duties in child rearing, food
preparation,& the like; their economic role &
status remained equivalent to males.
Thank You
GOD bless!