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De Blij 7th Edition: Outline Chapters 29-32


CHAPTER 31       CHAPTER 32        CHAPTER 29



In the last two decades, geographers have become extremely interested in the issue of ethnicity. Ethnic groups are found in essentially all societies. Ethnic groups are populations that feel a common bond and have a sense of common origin that distinguishes them from other groups. Religion, language, national origin, and skin color are all used to various degrees by ethnic groups to distinguish themselves from others. It is estimated that the 200 or so independent countries recognized by the United Nations are made up of about 5000 ethnic groups. Increased migration of people in the last 200 years has produced a complex pattern of ethnic groups.

Essentially, ethnicity is a spatial concept. Ethnic groups are associated with clearly recognized territories, either some large homeland district or some smaller urban or rural enclaves in which they are the primary or exclusive occupant. In addition, they have somehow marked these places with certain distinguished cultural signs.

Students should be made aware of the fluidity of the concept of the term ethnicity. For example, the various language groups that occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans (e.g., Iroquois, Apache, etc.) are generally not described as ethnic groups, while individual populations migrating from patterns of similar complexity in Europe are always called ethnic groups (e.g, Germans, Bohemians, etc.).

The term "ethnic" comes from the Greek word ethnos, which means people or nation, but it is used in the contemporary world to label groups that share some prominent trait. While there must be some physical and social identification, which sets them apart from other nations, there is no single trait that denotes ethnicity. Ethnic groups are frequently distinguished from racial groups, but the concept of race is so poorly defined that many people use the word race and ethnicity interchangeably. Most readings on ethnicity link it directly to immigration, and most major textbooks in geography focus on ethnicity in the United States . Since the fall of the Soviet Union , ethnicity has become a more common topic for academic discussion. It is also linked with the notion of nationalism. Nationalism argues that distinctive groups (perhaps ethnic groups) should have sovereignty and control internal political and economic affairs.

Human geographers give varying amounts of importance to ethnicity in the United States in the introductory courses. A survey of books published in the last decade will shows a growing emphasis on ethnicity. Although emphasis has increased, the confusion between race and ethnicity has not diminished. Most textbooks discuss ethnic enclaves or even entities such as the "Mormon cultural region."  Some textbooks refer to Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans as ethnic groups and map their various patterns and change over time.

Textbooks also focus on the landscapes produced by ethnic groups, although it is very difficult to find clear-cut examples of such areas. Agricultural landscapes created by North American immigrants have been subsumed in the mass culture produced by the industrial era. In contrast, European landscapes are not threatened by mass culture to the same degree, because unique field and crop patterns or house types make them more distinct.

American textbooks also describe ethnicity as it relates to urban patterns and to historic processes by which groups that are confined to certain parts of industrial cities become minority populations in the United States (i.e., segregation). Segregation is, of course, a shorthand term for the concept that these individuals are not distributed randomly over the city, and it continues today in North American cities. There are two kinds of segregation: One is forced segregation, in which individuals are coerced by majority powers to stay in a certain area. The other pattern in known as affinity segregation, in which groups choose to live with one another, even though there is no official sanction against them spreading over the entire region.

In recent times, the American public has been shocked by the conflict among ethnic groups in Rwanda , the Balkans, and particularly those surrounding the breakup of the former state of Yugoslavia . Conflicts among ethnic groups in places like Israel , Yugoslavia , Armenia , Azerbaijan , Rwanda , Ethiopia , and Eritrea are regrettably frequent and violent. Geographers have no real insight into why ethnic groups hate and/or go to war against one another. At one time it was thought that there was some deep-seated instinct to defend territory that united humans with animals, birds and fish. Today, belief in defensible territoriality is not widespread through the profession.

The distinction between ethnicity — as discussed in the chapter on cultural geography — and nationalism — which is discussed in the political geography section of the course  —  is, in many respects, a question of scale. Nationalities are ethnic groups that have control of a territory or a country which may or may not be completely independent. When members of a nation move into another nation-state, they become an ethnic group in the new country. So the distinction between these two concepts is one of time and place. Ethnic groups can become nations through a process of nation building and wars of independence and liberation. Members of nations can also become ethnic groups by moving from their country of origin into another country.

One feature that characterizes ethnic and nationalist warfare is what is now called ethnic cleansing. This is an ancient practice in which the victors relocate the vanquished by moving them. For example, the Native Americans were moved from almost the entire area they occupied in the eastern section in the United States . More recently, during the breakup of Yugoslavia , Serbs moved Croatians, and Croatians moved Serbs — each moving the other from territories they felt belonged to them. Most recently, the Serbian population was forced out of the Serbian province of Kosovo .

We use the term racism widely to refer to patterns of behavior, which demonstrate that members of one race feel that another race is inferior. This attitude also seems to apply to ethnic groups as well, but we don't have a word like "ethnicism" which would mean one ethnic group feels superior to another because of the innate quality of the group. In this case, it would be a cultural rather than a strictly biological quality. This whole field of inquiry into racism, prejudice, and ethnic feelings and attitudes is in a major state of flux at present because of the rise of strong nationalism and feelings of ethnic group solidarity. The renewed importance of ethnicity seems to have taken American scholars by surprise.  Scientists are struggling to come up with some kind of understanding of this apparently very ancient attitude.


   I.       The human race

             A.    All humans belong to the same species

                     1.     The term race focuses on differences rather than on similarities

                     2.     Many anthropologists believe the whole concept of human "races" should be abandoned

  II.       A geography of race

             A.    Genetic makeup is the key

                     1.     Within a species, chromosomes of reproducing organisms are identical in number and size

                     2.     Focus on: Genetics

                     3.     Regional differences in physical appearance

                             a)     Does not result from differences in fundamental genetic makeup of each group

                             b)     Does result from differences in gene frequencies among populations

                     4.     Blood type differences

                             a)     Type O dominates in Native American populations

                             b)     Type A dominates in Western Europe

                     5.     Differences occur within the human race, not between races

                             a)     Differences probably result from a long history of adaptation to different environments

                             b)     Use of the term "race" is in error

             B.     Culture and race

                     1.     After thousands of years populations with distinct physical attributes are still clustered

                     2.     Example of Rwanda : a cultural not a racial conflict

                     3.     Examples of Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland

                     4.     Culture often fires conflict

             C.    Human biological variation

                     1.     Some anthropologists argue there are four basic human stocks

                             a)     The Negroid Stock

                             b)     The Australoid Stock

                             c)     The Mongoloid Stock

                             d)     The Caucasoid Stock

                             e)     Not all groups fit into the above four categories

                     2.     Skin color (Figure 30-1)

                             a)     Most pervasive biological-physical traits

                             b)     Melanin pigment

                                      (1)      Protects against the sun's radiation in tropical populations

                                      (2)      Higher latitude people have less melanin and lighter skins

                                      (3)      Protects inner layers of skin from ultraviolet rays

                             c)     Often first thing people notice about another person is their color                                            

                             d)     Populations in South America have lighter skins than populations in African and Australiasian tropics

                     3.     Physique and size

                             a)     Bergmann's Rule – the closer you get to the tropics the slimmer the people tend to be.

                             b)     Stress and diet can be determining factors

                             c)     People in Europe , Japan , and the United States are growing taller

                             d)     No totally satisfactory explanations for variations in humanity's physical appearance

                     4.     Other physical traits

                             a)     Head shape: cephalic index

                             b)     Facial features: nose shape and length

                             c)     Hair types: straight, curly, woolly

                             d)     Epicanthic fold: overlapping skin over the eye

 III.       Race as a social category

             A.    Racism

                     1.     Part of the human condition, has both geographic expression and geographic consequences

                     2.     Turkish guestworkers in Germany are attacked

                     3.     In India , lighter-skinned families have enjoyed advantage and privilege for centuries

                     4.     Example of the United States ' relationship with African Americans

                     5.     Perception of segregated neighborhoods in the United States

             B.     Race and environment

                     1.     Early civilizations

                             a)     Asia and Africa developed sophisticated cultures long before most European societies arose above simple tribal organization

                             b)     Example of China and Southwest Asia

                     2.     The "racial" stereotype remains a huge obstacle to social harmony

  IV.     Ethnic patterns and processes

             A.    Introduction

             B.     Ethnic mosaics

                     1.     In America , ethnic enclaves are common

                             a)     Have names such as "Little Italy, " Chinatown ," or "Little Havana" etc.

                             b)     Place names can refer to ethnic background

                     2.     Term ethnic comes from the Greek word ethnos, meaning "people" or "nation"

                     3.     Racial identity is largely a matter of self-perception

                             a)     Previously discussed Slovenia

                             b)     Northern Ireland and its religious ethnic glue

                             c)     Belgium 's problem is principally linguistic

                             d)     The Maori community in New Zealand have a growing ethnic awareness and identity

                     4.     Ethnicity exists at many spatial dimensions, large and small

                     5.     Advantages of ethnic community

                             a)     Group identity and cohesiveness yield advantages for the individual

                             b)     Constitutes a social network

                             c)     For the new arrival it eases transition

                             d)     A familiar language and common church

                             e)     Preserves and protects customs and traditions to mutual advantage

             C.    Acculturation and ethnicity

                     1.     Diffusion of popular American culture traits affects ethnic neighborhoods

                     2.     Miami 's Cuban neighborhoods

                             a)     Now a generation old

                             b)     The older Spanish-speaking residents represent a dwindling minority

                             c)     Old values still prevail, but acculturation is eroding them

                             d)     Young Cubans born in Florida are adopting American cultural norms

                             e)     These neighborhoods are in transition that will stabilize

                     3.     Miami also has other ethnic culture neighborhoods (Figure 30-3))

                     4.     Focus on: Ethnicity and Environment

                     5.     Cultural revival

                             a)     People of similar ethnic background first clustered in particular areas                                   

                             b)     Later they diffused outward relocating from the cluster that served as a stepping stone (Figure 30-3A)

                             c)     These dispersed immigrants intermarry and form loose networks

                             d)     They are still conscious of their shared ethnicity (Figure 30-3B)

                             e)     Prosperity generates funds used to revive old ties to the common cultural source–renewed awareness of cultural linkage (Figure 30-3C)

                             f)      Renewed cultural linkage tends to counter assimilation

                             g)     In recent years former immigrant groups have even demonstrated in support of their former homelands

                     6.     Focus on: Ethnicity, Folk Culture, and Popular Culture

   V.      Ethnic conflict

             A. Introduction

             B.     The case of Quebec

                     1.     Large environmentally diverse country with a plural society

                     2.     Canada is divided into 10 provinces, and two territories

                     3.     Has a specially designated territory of Nunavut , set aside for the indigenous peoples (Figure 30-4)

                     4.     Because of a vast regional geography, Canada faces diverse problems

                     5.     Provinces are accustomed to a degree of autonomy

                     6.     Today the biggest problem in Canada is ethnicity and ethnic revival

             C.    French Canada

                     1.     Historical geography of Quebec

                             a)     French entered part of what is now Canada in the 1530s; the British followed

                             b)     French created laws, a land tenure system, and the Roman Catholic church prevailed

                             c)     A series of wars with the English ended with French defeat

                             d)     French kept a certain amount of territory, their land tenure system, and church

                             e)     The British parliament changed Quebec province many times before the French accepted their terms

                             f)      When Charles de Gaulle visited Canada the French found a champion

             D.    Ethnic revival

                     1.     Ethnic feeling in Quebec has risen in surges since the 1960s

                     2.     Quebec demanded to be recognized as a "distinct society" within Canada

                     3.     In 1988 Quebec enacted a law making it illegal to exhibit any outdoor commercial sign in a language other than French within the entire province

                     4.     Feelings of ethnicity rose among Canada 's native peoples as well

                             a)     They want their rights protected by the Canadian federal government

                             b)     Quebec 's Mohawks do not wish to become part of a sovereign Quebec

             E.     Territorial adjustments

                     1.     Ethnic assertion by Canada 's native peoples could have an impact on the future map of  the country

                     2.     The Crees' historic domain extends over more than half of Quebec

                     3.     Quebec remains a prime example of ethnic revival

                     4.     The Quebec government has established an official presence in Paris , France

                     5.     Canada 's government has tried hard to prevent the problems of ethnic revival, but it has not worked

                     6.     The forces of ethnicity can disrupt even the most stable governmental system


Just as there is a geography of ethnicity, language, and religion, there is a geography of gender. Gender refers to the inequality of the sexes, and is a term that is related to social situation, not just biology. We can see the differences between modern geography and tradition geography most clearly in the treatment of the geography of gender. In the past, scientists and writers viewed humans not as sexual beings, but just as people. The way a man viewed the environment was thought to be shared by women and children of all ages. Beginning in the 1980s, a new interpretation of cultural geography took hold. Sometimes called the new cultural geography, it breaks down the old monolithic view of culture.

There are five general contexts in which the geography of gender is the most important: demography and health; family and social conditions; education and opportunity; economic and productive activity; and politics/public life. Students of the geography of gender are plagued by the lack of accurate statistics and comparable data from different places around the world. Therefore, this field of geography is attracting researchers.

Looking first at demography and health, we see the longevity gap (the fact that women tend to live longer than men). Since 1950, the longevity gap in the world expanded from five to seven years. In India , Pakistan , and Bangladesh , male and female longevity rates are essentially the same. However, Russia women, on average, live fourteen years longer than men, and in the United States , women live six years longer. This pattern varies all over the world. The gap may be rooted in women's behavior. Women are less likely to adopt the unhealthy habits associated with wealth including cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. Although women live longer, this is not an indication that their quality of life is significantly better than that of men. Women face high maternal mortality rates and, in some parts of the world, they are malnourished and overworked. In some cultures where there is a strong bias toward men, female infanticide is practiced. It is reported that 300,000 more girls than boys die each year, and many more are never born because they are aborted after gender detection tests. As a result, the ratio of men to women in India continues to widen where now it is approximately 900 women to 1000 men. In 1994, the United Nations reported that there are 133 single men for every 100 single women.

Education is also disproportionately available for girls and boys. In North America , it is normal for all boys and girls to attend school, but in other places, it is quite uncommon for women to study. In India the overall literacy rate is 55 percent, but UNICEF estimates that 65 to 75 percent of all Indian women are illiterate.

If we look at economic productivity, we see a problem in the collection of statistics. Women's work is primarily focused inside the home and is not given any dollar value. This makes any discussion of productivity flawed. The female labor force is growing, and in advanced economies, more and more women are working as skilled labor.

Politics and public life is a sad story. In major democracies worldwide, women only recently began to vote, and in only a few, such as Norway , Iceland , and the United Kingdom , they occupy high-level positions. In the United States , women were enfranchised only in 1920, and their political power is still less than that of men.

One of the growing subfields of geography is the study of geography of the home. Many feel this topic is the last unexplored area on the surface of the earth. Landscapes like the home that are created and dominated by women are usually unreported in the core literature of geography.


   I.       Introduction

             A.    Women's inequality in poorer countries

                     1.     Countries with high population growth rates

                             a)      Women who bear the children are confined to their village

                             b)      Men and women born and raised in the same village live in different worlds

                     2.     Migration

                             a)      In African refugee camps, women and female children always are the worst off

                             b)      In voluntary migrations, males tend to dominate the decision-making process

                             c)      In new destinations, males quickly widen their activity spaces

                             d)      Male dominance remains the rule rather than the exception

             B.     Women in the modern developed countries

                     1.     Reduction of inequality between men and women

                     2.     Women not always paid the same wage for the same work as men

                     3.     In corporate, political, and many other settings inequality can still be seen

                     4.     Women take jobs closer to home

                             a)      Families to take care of

                             b)      Work hours so they can be home when necessary

                             c)      They lose opportunity for advancement

                     5.     Example of Saudi Arabia , an oil rich nation

                             a)      Women are not allowed to drive automobiles

                             b)      Women who drove during the Gulf War were arrested

  II.       Demography and health

             A.    The longevity gap

                     1.     On the average women today tend to live about 4 years longer than men

                     2.     In the developed countries, between 1950 and 1990, the gap widened from 5 to 7 years

                     3.     Men and women have equal life expectancy in just three of the world's countries

                             (Figure 31-1)

                     4.     In virtually all cultures, men tend to marry younger women

                     5.     Hundreds of millions of women who spent lifetimes sustaining families die alone in poverty

             B.     Quality of life

                     1.     Women in the poorer countries of the world

                             a)      Pregnancy and childbirth confront women with high health risks

                             b)      Pregnancy risk is 80 to 600 times higher than that in developed countries

                             c)      Asian women face the highest maternal mortality rate

                             d)      Inadequate medical services

                             e)      Excessive number of pregnancies and malnutrition (Figure 31-2)

                     2.     Gender differences in nutrition in the poorer countries

                             a)      Women are less well nourished than men

                             b)      Female children are even worse off

                             c)      Reports from WHO indicate that anemia affects the majority of women

             C.    Female infanticide

                     1.     India

                             a)      Many are aborted after gender-detection tests

                             b)      India , in 1994, had 133 single men for every 100 single women

                             c)      Female infants are killed by oleander berries, smothering, by depriving them of food

                             d)      Laws prohibiting prenatal tests solely to determine sex of a fetus are being violated

                             e)      Fathers want male children to see the lineage preserved

                             f)       Tradition of dowry makes males valuable even if it is now illegal

                     2.     China

                             a)      One-child policy has brought an imbalance in male-to-female ratio

                             b)      Number of males unable to find wives during the first decade of the twenty-first century will double or even triple

                     3.     Government incentives may be necessary to stop the imbalance in male-to-female ratios

                     4.     Millions of babies die from food deprivation, denial of medical care, abandonment, and murder

                     5.     Female infanticide more common in urban areas

                     6.     The impact on women can be devastating without legal constraints and balanced incentives

 III.       Family and social conditions

             A.    Mortality rates in poorer countries (Table 31-1)

                     1.     Higher for girls than boys

                     2.     Reflects the lower status of girls and women in many societies

                     3.     Much of what happens to women is unknown because so many live in rural areas

                     4.     The cultural landscape is essentially male-created and male-dominated

                     5.     The woman's indoor home is her female space

                     6.     Women are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence worldwide

             B.     Women in India

                     1.     Girls are still forced into arranged marriages

                     2.     Dowry deaths are on the rise     

3.     Federal and state governments created legal aid offices to help women

                     4.     Family courts to hear domestic cases have been created

                             a)      Tend to be run by older male judges

                             b)      Try to force the battered or threatened woman back into the family fold

                             c)      Hindu culture attaches great importance to the family structure

                     5.     Resurgence of Muslim fundamentalism created a controversy over rights of divorced Muslim women

             C.    Women in Islamic countries

                     1.     Many women live a medieval existence of isolation and servitude

                     2.     Many Muslim political and social leaders deplore this situation

                     3.     Some women have succeeded in becoming doctors, lawyers, and other professionals

                             a)      Islamic laws and rules restrict even their lives

                             b)      They must still appear cloaked and veiled in public

                     4.     Resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism and severe Sharia laws have had an especially strong impact on women

  IV.     Education and opportunity

             A.    Education gives the chance to improve one's circumstances

                     1.     Where education levels are higher, women's circumstances are better

                     2.     In much of the less-developed world girls are left home when boys start school

                     3.     Progress is being made

                             a)      More girls now go to school, at least at the elementary level

                             b)      A growing number of women reach levels of higher education

                             c)      Sharp contrast between urban and rural areas

                     4.     Women are still being denied access to training in such practical fields as forestry, fishing, and agriculture

                     5.     Women in our literate society still face special job-related difficulties (Figure 17-3)

                     6.     Recent reports from Africa and Asia suggest that progress in women's education has been halted or even reversed

                     7.     In Africa , economic setbacks and armed conflicts have combined to erode education systems

                     8.     Factors that impede progress

                             a)      Rapid population growth

                             b)      Limited budgets

                             c)      Cultural and political barriers

   V.      Economy and productivity

             A.    Women's productivity

                     1.     Their work is not included in the world's GNP

                     2.     A woman's unpaid labor in the periphery                                 

                             a)      Produce more than half of all the food

                             b)      Build homes, dig wells, and make clothes

                             c)      Plant and harvest crops

                     3.     The realm of Africa

                             a)      Women probably have the hardest life

                             b)      Produce an estimated 70 percent of the food by hand labor

                             c)      Gather firewood from ever-increasing distances

                             d)      Left many times without a husband who has moved to the city

                             e)      Cannot get bank loans or title to the land she works

                             f)       A young girl will start working 12 hours a day as soon as she is able

                             g)      Cash crops such as tea are called "men's crops" because the men trade in what the                                                        women produce

             B.     Women in the labor force

                     1.     In the core realms from 35 to 39 percent of the labor force

                     2.     In Sub-Saharan, Africa nearly 80 percent work in agriculture

                     3.     In Asia more than 50 percent work in agriculture

                     4.     The comparatively small number working in manufacturing is rising

                     5.     Many women engage in home-based economic activities

                             a)      Tailoring, beer brewing, food preparation, and soap making, etc.

                             b)      These informal activities are often the mainstay of the community

                     6.     All over the world, women still face job discrimination

  VI.     Politics and public life

             A.    The dominance of males

                     1.     In the United States and Canada , women did not receive the right to vote until 1920

                     2.     Male domination of political institutions was well established by 1920

                     3.     Not all countries have given women the right to vote

                     4.     Many countries gave the right for women to vote only recently (Figure 31-4)

                     5.     The right to vote does not give women political power (Table 31-2)

                     6.     In recent years there has been an increase of women in politics

1.        A few national leaders have been women

2.        When women have been in power their policies tend to emphasize equality, development, and peace



Popular and Folk Culture

Within the broad context of cultural geography, writers have struggled to deal with the difference between modern urban culture, which is highly changeable and influenced by technological developments, and the traditional, long standing customs of populations which are only minimally affected by urbanization. As a result, human geography in the 1990s began to focus in on the new subfield of cultural geography, which explores the contrasts between "folk" culture and "popular" culture. These terms are somewhat problematic because they ignore the issue of mass culture (or the culture of the masses) and what is sometimes called high or elite culture. In some writings, popular culture is thought to be a protest against the mass culture which is produced by the elite for the middle-class. These politicized views of the distinctions between popular, folk, mass, and elite culture engage scholars from a wide range of disciplines. Geographers have played a role in these discussions, but most human geography books ignore the issues of class related to the development of cultures and focus instead on the differences between folk and popular culture.

Folk culture is defined as traditional practices held by small homogenous groups typically living in isolated areas. Popular culture, on the other hand, is found in large heterogeneous societies that share certain habits and customs.

Geographers typically ask two basic questions for both folk and popular cultures: What is the origin and what is the diffusion of folk and popular culture? Folk cultures generally have anonymous locations. Their practices are so deeply embedded in the culture that it is hard to know when and where things developed. In contrast, popular culture is generally well documented because it is so new. Its origins are often in wealthy countries such as Japan and those of North America and western Europe. The usual examples of popular culture refer to clothing, music, and foods. Much, if not all, of popular culture refers to leisure time and the growing affluence of the world's population.

The cultural trait of music shows interesting variations. We can think of folk music, popular music, and artistic or academic/classical music. Classical music is not discussed in geography textbooks, but there are many discussions of popular and folk music.

The boundaries between folk and popular music are vague. In the United States , country music — which is said to have originated in the Ozark Uplands and the Appalachian Mountains in middle Tennessee and Kentucky lowlands — is an example of how folk music was commercialized, standardized, and made into popular music. Popular music is music written by specific individuals for the purpose of being sold to a large number of people. Accordingly, country music fits the definition of popular music, although frequently it makes use of traditional themes, tunes, and story lines. Popular music is relatively new (since approximately 1900 in Europe and North America ) and its continuing evolution reflects the influences of various populations.

Folk cultures are promoted by isolation. The physical can provide barriers to movement and themes for stories and songs. It also dictates some food preferences and dress patterns. Folk housing is also an important part of the cultural landscape, and it has attracted the attention of many geographers over the years. It is difficult to study folk housing in the United States because the rapid industrialization of society very quickly standardized building types and building materials.  Even so, geographers have shown interest in the traditional house types that originated on the eastern seaboard and diffused westward.

Popular culture is also important when discussing housing, food, and clothing styles, although it is difficult to gather comprehensive data on these practices. Folk culture is threatened by popular culture. Popular culture is spreading around the world.  Carried by television and other forms of media, it has penetrated formerly isolated locations in the world. In the United States and western Europe, the many critics of the diffusion of popular culture decry the homogenization and power of the culture that they are a part of. They complain about the uniform landscapes created by popular culture. Architectural taste is criticized by writers and scholars. They heartily dislike the fast-food culture that characterizes popular culture. Many environmentalists are concerned that the material needs of popular culture will put greater demand on the earth's resources. In the last fifty years, it is youth who have been the primary focus and carriers of popular culture. Most of the students in an AP Human Geography course will be part of the popular culture and will certainly have opinions they would like to share with each other.


1.       Cultures have affected one another throughout history, but the extent and scale of interaction has greatly increased over the past century.

2.       The globalization of culture has eroded the distinction between folk culture and popular culture while fostering the development of new identity communities that cut across traditional cultural lines.

3.       Cultural products produced in a small number of places exert an influence greatly disproportionate to their size, but the geographic pattern of this influence is highly uneven.

4.       Economic and cultural globalization are closely linked, and that link has increasingly led cultural products to be seen as commodities to be bought and sold (commodificaion).

5.       The twin impacts of economic and cultural globalization make it increasingly important to see individual places not in isolation but in relationship to other places and to processes unfolding at extra-local scales.

6.       The globalization of culture has threatened distinctiveness of individual places, leading to efforts to protect endogenous cultural products.


  I.    Introduction

  II.    The changing scope of cultural interaction

         A.  All cultures have been affected

               1.   No culture exists in isolation

               2.   Examples of cultural interaction

               3.   Folk cultures—largely self-sufficient, somewhat isolated groups with long-standing traditions that change comparatively slowly through time

               4.   Popular culture—the rapidly changeable, nontraditional heterogeneous ideas and practices of urban industrial societies

               5.   Discussion of the disappearing folk cultures

               6.   All cultures are dynamic

               7.   Discussion of today’s fast pace of diffusion

 III.   Impacts of the globalization of culture

         A.  The influence of television

               1.   American and to a lesser extent British products are now seen and heard around the world

               2.   The French cinema has carved out a special niche in the film world

               3.   Cultural forms produced in a few places exert an influence disproportionate to their size—and with clear cultural impacts

               4.   The threat of cultural homogenization

                     a)   Much evidence individual cultural productions are interpreted and understood in                                                     different ways

                     b)   Example of American war movies

         B.   The link between economic and cultural globalization

               1.   Example: McDonald’s hamburger outlets are now spread over six continents

                     a)   Success not based primarily on tourists

                     b)   Local consumers largely sustain them

                     c)   Introduced a fairly standardized fare with some local variations reflecting local tastes

                     d)   Alter character of the cultural landscape

               2.   Commodification defined

               3.   Example of different kinds of commodification are given

         C.   The evolving cultural landscape

               1.   Architectural forms and planning ideas have diffused around the world

               2.   Individual businesses and products have become so widespread they leave a distinctive                                         landscape stamp

               3.   Borrowing of idealized landscape images promote a blurring of place distinctiveness

               4.   The skyscraper (Figure 29-1)

               5.   Discussed: the growing tendency to transpose landscape ideals from one place to another

         D.  The changing meaning of “local”

               1.   We cannot speak of cultural convergence in any meaningful sense

               2.   The same cultural form or process will not have the same impact in different places

               3.   We are not moving toward a mono-cultural world

               4.   Global-local continuum—what happens at one scale is not independent of what happens at other scales

 IV.   Reactions to cultural globalization

         A.  Discussion of events tied to the link between globalization and culture

         B.   Concerns over the loss of local distinctiveness

               1.   Appeal of external cultural forms promotes concerns about their implications for local                                           distinctiveness and identity

                     a)   Can represent a challenge to cultural forms and behaviors with a high degree of                                                    symbolic importance

                     b)   Accelerate human alteration of the environment

               2.   Minorities in the global core sometimes see change as an effort to promote an influx of dominant cultural norms on them

               3.   Seen as efforts to promote a national ideology

         C.   Impacts of resistance

               1.   Resistance is widespread and often vehement

               2.   Impacts of resistance is limited

               3.   Some degree of hybridity has characterized most cultures and landscapes

               4.         How Michael Jordan became the most recognized person on Earth is discussed