1.2 Cultural diffusion

1.2 Cultural diffusion
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AardrijkskundeMiddelbare schoolhavo, vwoLeerjaar 2

This lesson contains 18 slides, with interactive quiz, text slides and 1 video.

time-iconLesson duration is: 30 min

Items in this lesson

1.2 Cultural diffusion

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Learning objectives
After studying this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the main reasons for cultural diffusion, both in the past and present;
  • Explain the difference between cultural homogenisation and heterogenisation.

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Cultural diffusion
The spread of cultural elements is called cultural diffusion
  • Examples: Food (Italian pizza), music from other countries and language (TTO!)
  • Cultures can influence each other and change.

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A McDonald's restaurant in Japan, an example of cultural diffusion.

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Cultural diffusion in the past: This picture was not taken in Rome, but in El Djem, Tunisia.

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Cultural diffusion in the past
From the end of the fifteenth century, several European countries started founding colonies in other continents. A colony is a settlement in a foreign land. Colonies were used for the exploitation of herbs and spices, like pepper and cinnamon. Later on, colonialism also led to the diffusion of religion, language and other cultural elements across the globe. In colonial times, it was European cultures that were spread in particular. This diffusion of European cultural elements is also called Europeanisation.

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Europeanisation in Latin America: Many countries in South America used to be Spanish colonies. This explains why a lot of people in these countries still speak Spanish and are Catholic. 

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Cultural diffusion nowadays
The main reasons for our present day cultural diffusion are:
  1. Trade relations: When people from different countries trade, they come into contact with each other’s cultures and products. 
  2. Migration: When people move from one country to another, they also bring elements of their culture with them.
  3. Tourism: When people visit other countries on holiday, they can experience another culture or spread their own culture. 
  4. Media: When people listen to the radio, watch television or surf on the internet, they can also encounter information from other cultures. 

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People buying Indian food at Camden Food Market, London. Many people migrated from India to the United Kingdom. They brought elements of their culture with them.

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Cultural homogenisation
Since World War II, North American culture has become more and more dominant around the world. This is called Americanisation

Our world is now more interconnected than ever. We call this globalisation.

When cultures adopt more cultural elements from each other, they become more and more similar. This process is called cultural homogenisation.

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Will cultures worldwide influence each other so much, that we will end up with a global culture? If this happened, everyone around the world would share about the same cultural elements.

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Cultural heterogenisation
Globalisation can also lead to a revaluation of a culture:
  • People could get more aware of their own culture
  • They appreciate more of what they have and so express certain cultural elements more. 
  • Cultures would become less similar > cultural heterogenisation.

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Bullfighting in Spain
'Black Pete' in the Netherlands
Examples like these show that a global culture will probably not come anytime soon.

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Talking point:
Do you believe we should protect our
own culture from outside influences?

Slide 14 - Open question

The word glocalisation combines the words ‘globalisation’ and ‘local’. It refers to products that are distributed globally, but which are customised for local markets. Just think of McDonalds, which has restaurants all over the world and is a leading example of globalisation. It doesn’t matter whether you buy a Big Mac in Singapore, Israel or the Netherlands, the taste should be the same. However, since people value local traditions as well, McDonalds also sells specific products that take local culture into account. Can you guess where the McRice and McFalafel are sold? Or what do you think of the McKroket?

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Slide 16 - Video

Cultural elements can spread and be adopted by other cultures. We call this cultural diffusion. Cultures diffuse because of trade relations, migration, tourism and media like the internet. Because of globalisation, cultures now influence each other more than ever. This can lead to cultures becoming more similar (cultural homogenisation). At the same time, globalisation can also lead to a revaluation of local culture, which leads to cultures becoming less similar (cultural heterogenisation).

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Go to the planner in Teams to see which exercises you have to do!

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