Diffusion refers to the spreading out and blending of pieces of different cultures. The different cultures have many kinds of food, clothing, and even languages that people love and enjoy every day. There is no doubt that these different cultures will eventually be spread throughout America, but it is important to realize that it can be both a good and a bad thing. It seems to be a bad thing since a lot of people are afraid to learn or be around other cultures because all they know is their own and may not be open to learning anything new. There is also the possibility that cultural diffusion may not be a good thing, since the original culture in the area is being somewhat washed away and minimally replaced in certain areas.
It is important to realize that although there are some difficulties associated with cultural diffusion, there are also positive aspects such as learning more about how other people live, work, and survive. I have found that different cultures have a unique way of living and to me, this adds character to America and allows people who may never be able to leave the country to have a glimpse into what life outside of the country is like. Furthermore, cultural diffusion is also rather amazing because it allows you to fully comprehend how you are different from others and, in turn, may make you appreciate your own a little more.
At Northeast Library, we have a variety of books about different cultures like African culture and Asian culture. One of the books we have is How to Build a Museum by Tonya Bolden, which is about the African American museum. Another one is Adventures in Asian Art by Sue DiCicco. Even books in different languages are available, including Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and more. Why not learn more about a different culture and open your eyes to some of the wonderful things that can result from opening up and looking around?
What is Cultural Diffusion?
The beliefs, cuisines, and customs of every culture differ. This phenomenon is sometimes called transcultural diffusion. Diffusion of culture involves how various parts of one culture are adopted by other cultures. The widespread adoption of a cell phone (and often a smartphone) across many different countries and cultures is an example of cultural diffusion.
It is important for someone to consider their own cultural diffusion. Different cultures have been shaped by cultural diffusion. Someone might consider their own immersion in trying different nontraditional foods to their own culture. Each culture has cultural elements, which are the beliefs, knowledge, and everyday practices of that culture. Celebrations of the Chinese New Year in New York are another example of cultural diffusion.
Types of Cultural Diffusion
Culture is diffused in five different ways. There are expansion, contagious, hierarchical, stimulus, and relocation diffusion.
The expansion diffusion of an idea occurs when an idea gains popularity, and the number of people influenced by it expands rapidly. Consider the use of mobile phones as an example. Several years ago, very few people had mobile phones, and they were very expensive. Similarly, cell phones needed to be continually charged and needed many batteries, often taking up the space of a briefcase to support their battery life.
Following that, the prices and plans became cheaper, and batteries became smaller and smaller. People began to use mobile phones, but there were no smartphones. During the early stages of texting, people would press the number keypad on their phone 1 – 4 times on the same number to select a letter or number.
In addition, the fees for texting were not unlimited, and the only way to access the Internet was through a computer. In this expansion diffusion, however, the idea of being able to access the Internet outside the home through a cell phone became extremely popular. In most parts of the world today, most people have access to a smartphone and/or own one themselves.
The reader probably owns a smartphone. There are three subsets of expansion diffusion, which are hierarchical diffusion, stimulus diffusion, and contagious diffusion.
Contagious diffusion occurs when a new cultural idea spreads rapidly among different groups and cultures. Social diffusion occurs very quickly when videos go viral because most of the world is connected through the Internet. If a celebrity or important politician posts a video with a controversial theme, it becomes more popular than expected and goes viral.
Viral content spreads through social media because a lot of people see it and repost it to others, which is contagious diffusion through social media. Consider any time you have seen a news update because of a viral video. This would be an example of contagious diffusion.
Hierarchical diffusion refers to the structure of diffusion. Diffusion is hierarchical in nature and begins with a hierarchy of people and then spreads downward. A business owner or the leader of the country, for example, will be the first to learn new information. Since the importance of their role will spread to the subordinates in a company, such as directors, managers, and then workers.
It will spread to different members of the executive branch of government, and then be spread through the media. Because of the respect and importance of those at the top of the hierarchy, hierarchical diffusion occurs. Then it filters down to people lower in the hierarchy.
A classic example of hierarchical diffusion was started by President Warren G. Harding with his phrase “return to normalcy.” Normalcy was not originally a word in the English language. Due to hierarchical diffusion and its use of it by many people after President Warren G. Harding, it now means a return to normality.
Hierarchical diffusion is also exhibited when a late-night talk show host has an unknown band perform on the late-night show, and the band quickly becomes popular. There is hierarchical diffusion in this case since the talk show host is famous and has access to a large audience.
When culture takes an idea and adapts it to its own culture, it is called stimulus diffusion. When someone travels to another part of the world and visits a fast-food chain different from his or her own, the menu items may be different from those in the country that the traveler originates from.
Mexican and Chinese food served in America is different from Mexican and Chinese food served in Mexico and China. Diffusion also occurs when ideas or religious tenets are adopted from religious texts and their interpretations change from culture to culture. This is another example of stimulus diffusion. Culture changes as it spreads due to stimulus diffusion.
Ideas and practices are not only transmitted through expansion diffusion and its various forms. Culture can also spread by relocation diffusion when a person moves away from their home and shares their culture with a new environment.
Migration patterns explain much of the folk culture found in different regions. A person who grows up in a large city may have lived near a neighborhood such as Little Italy or Chinatown. Thus, the surrounding community has the opportunity to learn about and even participate in the cultural traditions of these groups. A tradition can also be passed on to family members, neighbors, and friends.
Culture and Cultural Diffusion
Culture refers to the arts, beliefs, customs, foods, social practices, and values of a people. Culture can be defined in terms of location (”American culture,” ”Southern culture,” etc.), generation, religion, and so forth. Each individual’s culture adds to the picture of the culture and history of that time and place.
Certain elements of culture may be inherent to a group, but culture often spreads from one group to another through a process called diffusion. The diffusion of any element of a culture from one group to another is called cultural diffusion.
Consider what defines your culture. Which of these elements do you think is inherent to the area where you live and which do you think can be traced to another culture?
Examples of Cultural Diffusion
The spread of cultural beliefs and social activities from one group of people to another is called cultural diffusion. The diffusion of culture broadens horizons and makes people more culturally literate.
Women living in Manhattan might purchase mala prayer beads used by Buddhist monks to focus on a breath or mantra. Her use of the beads, which originated halfway around the world, now positively impacts her daily meditation practice.
If she had only walked the streets of Manhattan, never engaging with any products or activities outside her borders, her life would be very different. That same woman would not be able to enjoy sushi night every Thursday evening with her friends if it weren’t for cultural diffusion.
World cultures are mixing through the mixing of ethnicities, religions, and nationalities due to advancements in communication, transportation, and technology. Someone living in Australia can communicate with someone living in Russia daily via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. As a result of enrichment, we can open our minds and learn as much as possible from every corner of the globe.
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Common Cultural Diffusions
Today, let’s expand our horizons beyond sushi dinners and daily tweets with some examples of cultural diffusion in society:
- You’ll find the largest concentration of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere in New York City’s Chinatown. In America, you can find some of the most delicious and authentic Chinese cuisines.
- The diffusion of music throughout the world is another example of cultural diffusion. Jazz began in the US as a combination of African and European musical traditions. Having spread across the globe, it now encompasses many different variations within the genre.
- Signs in southern US cities, especially border towns, acknowledge the migration of people from neighboring countries in both English and Spanish.
- Many people in European cities and former colonies speak both their native language and English. It is estimated that almost 80 percent of English speakers in the world are non-native speakers due to the spread of the language through imperialism and trade.
- Japanese culture has fascinated foreigners for centuries. Japanese culture and cuisine have spread around the world due to the popularity of sushi, a traditional Japanese dish.
- Almost 300 years after its founding, the French Quarter in New Orleans still displays an array of French culture through its architecture and cuisine.
- Due to the large Mexican population in the United States, people celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French Empire. The day is probably more celebrated in the US than it is in Mexico.
Religion and Cultural Diffusion
Religion has always been an integral part of life for many cultures. (You will find a number of studies exploring the parallels between Buddhism and Christianity.) And this is the true beauty of cultural diffusion, that expansion of the mind. We can learn a great deal more from a friend or acquaintance from another faith and live our best lives.
Check out how cultural diffusion works in religious circles.
- Christianity originated in Israel but is now practiced all over the world, initially spread by the Roman Empire.
- As a result of the march of Emperor Wu’s armies and the opening of new trade routes, Buddhism spread from India to China during the Han Dynasty.
- As with Christianity, Islam is no longer confined to one region of the world.
- The Spanish, French, English, and Portuguese forced the native populations of the Americas to convert to Christianity as an example of forced diffusion.
Cultural Diffusion in Technology
Knowledge is power, they say. I appreciate the sharing of information when one group of people develops a technology that can benefit people around the world. Nowadays, this happens at lightning speed.
Take a look at technological diffusion through the years.
- The first paper was made in China, then spread to the Middle East and Europe.
- Gunpowder was also invented in China. Nations all over the world produced gunpowder, as well.
- The fax machine was invented by Scottish inventor Alexander Bain but certainly didn’t remain in the UK alone.
- In spite of claims that Mercedes developed the anti-lock brake system first, the system was developed in the United States. It was then perfected by the Germans.
Economics and Cultural Diffusion
The benefits of cultural diffusion were evident even before the Middle Ages when merchants traveled from region to region to trade their goods. When one region did not have the climatic conditions for a crop, another region did, and those goods were diffused across countries and nations. A good was traded for another and a variety of goods were enjoyed by communities. That benefit remains today as world trade grows.
Here’s what you need to know about cultural diffusion.
- Since the Silk Road and beyond, when caravans would travel between Europe and Asia, trade has been a means of cultural diffusion.
- Tuition money can now be applied to a variety of study abroad programs. There are options for students to spend semesters in Ireland, Greece, or Japan. During your immersion in another culture, you’re sure to bring various aspects of that lifestyle back home with you and perhaps inspire someone else to go abroad.
- When people learn about new products in other countries, such as personal computers or cell phones, demand increases, the product becomes more affordable, and it spreads around the world.
Exchanging Ideas, Increasing Knowledge
Cultural diffusion can be life-changing in the end. If cultural diffusion weren’t a reality, an American woman in Wisconsin might develop a lifelong friendship with an Argentinian man who teaches salsa classes.
While a man living in Los Angeles watches YouTube videos on how to make sushi at home, he reaps the benefits of a healthy lifestyle provided by the Japanese culture. One comment in the comments section might lead him to a Japanese chef, and there you have it. New friendships are formed and bits of knowledge are shared.
It is said that travel expands our minds and allows us to discover new worlds. The process of cultural diffusion, however, is much more permanent and steadfast. As entire communities trade ideas, goods, and knowledge, the learning opportunities continue. We’re sure to be on the winning side of cultural diffusion if America is a melting pot.
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Cultural Diffusion In Sociology
Cultural diffusion is the process of elements of culture spreading from one society or social group to another, which means it is, in essence, a process of social development. The diffusion of innovations is also the process by which innovations are introduced into an organization or social group. Diffusion occurs when ideas, values, concepts, knowledge, practices, behaviors, materials, and symbols spread.
The primary mechanism through which modern societies developed the cultures that they have today is cultural diffusion, according to sociologists and anthropologists. In addition, they note that diffusion is distinct from the process of forcing elements of a foreign culture into society, as did colonization.
Social Sciences Theories
Anthropologists pioneered the study of cultural diffusion to explain how the same or similar cultural elements could be found in many societies around the world before modern communication tools emerged.
During the mid-nineteenth century, British anthropologist Edward Tylor proposed the theory of cultural diffusion as an alternative to using the theory of cultural evolution to explain cultural similarities. The German-American anthropologist Franz Boas developed a theory of cultural diffusion to explain how the process works among geographically close regions.
Scholars have noted that cultural diffusion occurs when societies with different ways of life come into contact and that as they interact more and more, the rate of diffusion between them increases.
During the 1920s and 1930s, American sociologists Robert E. Park, Ernest Burgess, and Canadian sociologist Roderick Duncan McKenzie formed the Chicago School of sociology, which studied urban cultures in Chicago and applied what they learned elsewhere.
They studied cultural diffusion from the perspective of social psychology, which meant that they focused on the motivations and social mechanisms that promote diffusion in their now-classic work, The City, published in 1925.
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Anthropologists and sociologists have proposed a variety of theories of cultural diffusion, but the following general principles can be considered to be general principles of cultural diffusion.
- A society or social group that borrows elements from another will alter or adapt those elements to fit within their own cultures.
- It is typically only aspects of a foreign culture that fit into the existing belief system of the host culture that is borrowed.
- Members of the social group will reject cultural elements that do not fit into the host culture’s belief system.
- Cultural elements will only be accepted within culture if they are useful for the host culture.
- Societies that borrow cultural elements are more likely to borrow them again in the future.
The Diffusion of Innovations
In contrast to cultural diffusion across groups, some sociologists have focused on how innovations are diffused within a social system or organization. In 1962, Everett Rogers wrote a book titled “Diffusion of Innovations” that laid the theoretical groundwork for the study of this process.
Rogers identifies four key variables that have an impact on how an innovative idea, concept, practice, or technology diffuses through a social system.
- Innovation itself
- the channels by which it is communicated
- how long it is exposed to the group in question
- characteristics of the group in question
- Together, these will determine the speed and scale of diffusion as well as whether or not the innovation is successfully adopted.
Steps in the Process
According to Rogers, diffusion occurs in five steps:
- Knowledge: An understanding of the innovation
- Persuasion: a person becomes intrigued by the innovation and begins to research it further
- Decision: a person or group evaluates the pros and cons of the innovation (the key point in the process)
- Implementation: leaders introduce the innovation to the social system and evaluate its effectiveness
- Confirmation: those in charge decide to continue the innovation
Throughout the process, Rogers noted that the social influence of certain individuals could play a significant role in determining the outcome. People in the marketing field are interested in studying the diffusion of innovations due to this reason.
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How Does Cultural Diffusion Affect Civilization?
When a culture is influenced by another, it is called cultural diffusion. Due to the influence that each culture has on the other, beliefs and social aspects of society can change when two cultures coexist in a region.
How did cultural diffusion impact civilization?
Ancient civilizations were able to share new technologies through cultural diffusion, which allowed them to grow and build.
How does cultural diffusion affect societies around the world?
Through cultural diffusion, societies around the world can share technologies leading to inventions such as the printing press and the computer. By blending ideas and beliefs, cultural diffusion enables societies to interact more easily.
What is an example of an effect of cultural diffusion?
The process of cultural diffusion refers to the way different elements of a culture are adopted by other cultures. One example of cultural diffusion is the widespread use of cell phones (and often smartphones) across many countries and cultures.
Why did civilizations experience cultural diffusion?
Diffusion of culture involves the spread of ideas from one civilization or society to another. Religious and political beliefs, art, and architecture are examples of things that spread. Travel and trade enabled these influences to spread throughout ancient times.
Is cultural diffusion positive or negative?
Although cultural diffusion can have both positive and negative effects, it tends to be positive. New things can be learned through cultural diffusion. French explorers, for example, brought many new foods back to Europe from North America but left smallpox and the natives behind.
Why is cultural diffusion bad?
Diffusion of cultures is the spread of pieces from different cultures. Culture diffusion can also be considered a bad thing because the original culture in the area is being washed away and minimally replaced in certain areas.
Why is cultural diffusion important to the study of geography?
Culture develops through cultural diffusion because it allows cultures to learn from each other. Through trade, travel, or immigration, one country can influence the culture of another.
How can cultural diffusion have a positive impact?
By learning more efficient ways of doing things, cultural groups often benefit from cultural diffusion. Borrowing positive cultural artifacts from another group can help solve long-standing problems and enhance communication.
How cultural diffusion can have both positive and negative effects?
The diffusion of cultures does not always lead to positive exchanges. Conflicts can arise when different cultures come into contact with each other. Cultures differing from one another have led to wars in the past. The spread of diseases is another negative consequence of cultural diffusion.
What is cultural diffusion and how does it happen?
When something from one area or culture spreads to another area or culture regardless of the location or climate zone, it is called cultural diffusion. More ideas and products spread and are shared as more cultures come into contact.
How did cultures change with the development of early civilizations?
Egyptian technology is one example of cultural change. They built impressive buildings due to their geometrical knowledge. Similarly, the papyrus in Mesopotamia represented a huge advance in that civilization, affecting the way in which they recorded and transmitted knowledge.
What are some causes of cultural diffusion?
The main causes of cultural diffusion have traditionally been migration, trade, and conflict. In addition to being a cultural trait developed through diffusion, the satellite dish serves as a reminder that technological improvements can spread cultural traits more quickly across cultures than ever before.
What had the most influence on the rise of civilizations from cultural hearths?
What do you think was the most influential factor in the rise of civilizations from cultural hearths? People began mass-producing goods with power-driven machines and factories.
What are the benefits of cultural blending?
Culture blending benefits societies that are open to new ideas and willing to adapt and change. A new pattern of behavior appears in the culture as a result of the blending of ideas.
What are the positive effects of the connection between cultural diffusion and technology?
Cultural groups often benefit from cultural diffusion when they learn more efficient ways of doing things. By borrowing positive cultural artifacts from another group, long-standing problems can be solved and communication can be improved.
Why is cultural diffusion so important?
Cultural diffusion broadens people’s horizons and enriches their cultural literacy. Communications, transportation, and technology have only increased the mixing of world cultures through different ethnicities, religions, and nationalities.
What are the advantages of diffusion?
Bonded materials have the same physical and mechanical properties as the base material. A bonded surface can be tested by tensile testing. The joints created by diffusion bonding are clean, high quality, and free from discontinuity and porosity.
How do cultural diffusion and globalization make the world a smaller place?
As cultures become more homogenized and standard, they are gradually replacing local and unique ways of being. There is a sense of familiarity or sameness wherever you are because of all of this global integration.
What are the changes in culture and society?
Raimon Panikkar identified 29 ways in which cultural change can be brought about, including growth, development, evolution, involution, renovation, reconception, reform, innovation, revivalism, revolution, mutation, progress, diffusion, osmosis, borrowing, eclecticism, syncretism, modernization, and indigenization.
Why do cultures change?
Cultures can change for many reasons, including the environment, technological inventions, and contact with other cultures. Moreover, cultural ideas can transfer from one society to another through diffusion or acculturation. Discoveries and inventions are mechanisms of cultural change.
How does contagious diffusion impact the changing cultural landscape?
Contagious diffusion refers to the spread of ideas through one-to-one interaction between individuals. When people interact, they absorb the culture of the people they interact with, and the culture spreads.
How do cultures spread to different regions?
Cultural diffusion refers to the spread of cultural traits from one region to another. This usually happens when people move from one place to another. They change their government, their religion, and their customs.
What are some examples of cultural diffusion that can be seen in Africa today?
In North Africa, Islam was the religion practiced. As time passed, the Berbers also adopted Islam. Having done business in West Africa’s trading centers, the Berbers introduced Islam there, as well. Culture is diffused along trade routes.
How important is diffusion in social change?
In incorporations and businesses, diffusion is the process by which ideas are fleshed out. The diffusion of innovations provides insights into the process of social change: one can observe the characteristics of successful innovations and the role of communication and networks in their dissemination.
What is diffusion in cultural change?
Anthropologists often use the terms diffusion, invention, and innovation to describe mechanisms of cultural change. The process of diffusion is defined as the borrowing by one society of a cultural trait belonging to another as a result of contact between the two.
What is the difference between cultural diffusion and innovation?
A cultural element is diffused from one culture to another over time by cultural diffusion. For example, Hip Hop Music and the iPhone are examples of cultural diffusion. innovation emerges from outside the receiving culture and competes with and replaces the local element in cultural diffusion.
How does World Trade lead to cultural change?
Because people move from place to place around the world as they trade, trade spreads ideas and cultures. As they move, they (and the people they meet) come into contact with new ideas and cultural practices. Today, trade is a rather impersonal business.
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