The concept of cultural diffusion refers to the Illustrates Cultural Diffusion of cultural beliefs and social activities between different groups of people. As a result of Illustrates Cultural Diffusion, people’s horizons are broadened and their cultural knowledge is increased.
As an example, a woman living in Manhattan might purchase mala prayer beads used by Buddhist monks to concentrate on a breath or mantra. As a result of using those beads, which originated halfway around the world, she has been able to positively impact her meditation practice on a daily basis. The outcome of her life would have been very different if she had only ever walked the streets of Manhattan, never engaging with any product or activity outside of her borders. It is also important to note that if it had not been for Illustrates Cultural Diffusion, the same woman would not be able to enjoy sushi night with her friends every Thursday evening!
In the past few decades, the mixing of cultures around the globe has only increased as a result of the advancement of communication, transportation, and technology. Australians can communicate with Russians on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram every day. Through this enrichment, we can open our minds and learn as much as possible about the world around us.
Cultural diffusions that are common
Let’s expand our horizons beyond those sushi dinners and daily tweets with some examples of Illustrates Cultural Diffusion in society today:
- The largest concentration of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere can be found in New York City’s Chinatown. You will find some of the most delicious and authentic Chinese cuisines in the country here.
- Cultural diffusion is also evident in the spread of music throughout the world. For example, jazz originated in the US as a blend of African and European musical traditions. Currently, the genre is enjoyed across the globe, taking on a variety of different variations.
- There are signs in both English and Spanish in southern U.S. cities, particularly border towns, acknowledging the spread of people between neighboring nations.
- It is not uncommon for people in European cities and former colonies to speak both their native tongue and English at the same time. It is estimated that 80 percent of English speakers in the world are non-native speakers due to the spread of the language through imperialism and trade.
- Foreigners have often been fascinated by Japanese culture. Japanese culture and cuisine have spread throughout the world due to the popularity of sushi, a traditional Japanese dish.
- French culture can still be seen through the architecture and cuisine of the French Quarter in New Orleans, about 300 years after it was founded.
- Due to the large Mexican population in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated as a commemoration of Mexico’s victory over the French Empire. Currently, the day is probably more celebrated in the United States than in Mexico.
Diffusion of religion and culture
It has always been a part of daily life for many cultures to practice religion. Several studies have examined parallels between Buddhism and Christianity. This is the true beauty of cultural diffusion, that expansion of the mind. As a result of a friendship or acquaintance with someone from a different faith, we have the opportunity to learn a great deal and to live our best lives to date.
Take a look at how cultural diffusion works in religious circles.
- Initially spread far and wide by the Roman Empire, Christianity started in Israel and is now practiced throughout the world.
- Buddhism spread from India to China as a result of the march of Emperor Wu’s armies and the opening of new trade routes during the Han Dynasty.
- In a similar manner to Christianity, Islam is no longer confined to a particular region of the world as a result of immigration.
- Spanish, French, English, and Portuguese forced the native population of the Americas to convert to Christianity as an example of forced diffusion.
Diffusion of cultural values in technology
It is said that knowledge is power. It is also nice to see that information is shared when one group of individuals develops an important technology that could benefit people throughout the world. This can happen at lightning speed in today’s world, of course.
Let’s examine technological diffusion over time.
- The first paper was made in China, and it was later exported to the Middle East and Europe.
- It is also believed that gunpowder originated in China. Gunpowder was also produced by nations throughout the world.
- Alexander Bain invented the fax machine in Scotland, but it did not remain there for long.
- In spite of many claims that the German manufacturer Mercedes had developed the anti-lock brake system first, the anti-lock brake system was invented in the United States. It was then perfected by the Germans.
Diffusion of culture and economics
Cultural diffusion can be defined as the geographical and social spread of different aspects of one or more cultures to different ethnicities, religions, nationalities, regions, etc. Diffusion of culture refers to the spread of culture over time. Various types of cultural diffusion exist, and this guide will describe the types and provide examples. This unit series includes additional study guides that examine cultural diffusion in specific historical and contemporary contexts.
Cultural diffusion was evident even before the Middle Ages, when merchants traded goods from region to region. If a region did not have the climate to produce a particular crop, another region did, and these goods spread across countries and nations. As a result of the trade of one good for another, communities benefited from a variety of goods. As world trade continues to grow, this benefit remains true today.
Let’s examine the economics of cultural diffusion.
- Since the time of the Silk Road, when caravans traveled between Europe and Asia, trade has been an important means of cultural diffusion.
- Today, tuition money can be applied to a variety of study abroad programs. Whether it is Ireland, Greece, or Japan, students are able to spend semesters anywhere. It is likely that you will bring various aspects of that lifestyle back home with you as you immerse yourself in another culture, and you may inspire someone else to spend their money abroad as well.
- The knowledge of new products in other countries, such as personal computers or cell phones, leads to an increase in demand, the product becoming more affordable, and the product spreading throughout the world.
Diffusion of relocations
The phenomenon of relocation diffusion occurs when people relocate from one location to another and bring their innovations with them. Immigration from one country to another, from one city to another, etc. In the process of relocating to a new location, they bring their ideas, and cultural traditions, such as food, music, and so on. Many immigrants bring along their cultural connections with them when they immigrate to a new environment, influencing those around them. It is also possible for relocation diffusion to be forced rather than chosen.
Diffusion of expansion
The process of expansion diffusion refers to the spread of an idea through a population as the number of people affected increases continuously. Expansion diffusion can be classified into three types: stimulatory, hierarchical, and contagious.
A contagious diffusion is the spread of an idea by person-to-person contact across a local population at a distance controlled by human contact. Like a disease, it spreads rapidly from one individual to another. It can also be compared to the spread of a forest fire.
Contagious diffusion examples
- People are exposed to religions when they come into contact with belief systems, especially universalizing faiths such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. Christianity was spread by missionaries.
- Social networking and media platforms have become increasingly globalized.
- Through modern technological innovations, videos and songs spread like wildfire when they become viral. Memes are contagious!
Diffusion in hierarchies
Hierarchical diffusion occurs when ideas spread from the most connected individuals to others. Consider the chain of command in businesses and government. Positions of authority are arranged in a certain hierarchy.
Hierarchical diffusion examples
- As a general rule, the federal government, including the president, vice president, and cabinet members are the first to be informed of governmental matters before the general public and state government employees.
- Business CEOs are more knowledgeable about company matters before the information is communicated to employees and the general public.
- Popular music first reached urban centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago before becoming popular with a wider audience.
Diffusion of stimuli
In stimulus diffusion, an idea diffuses from the cultural hearth to the outside world, but the original idea is altered by the new adopters. As culture adapts to changing environmental, social, and political conditions, virtually all cultural diffusions will have some aspect of stimulus diffusion.
A few examples of stimulus diffusion
- In different regions of the world, McDonald’s fast food chain has developed different menu items.
- Religious texts are interpreted differently as they are translated into other languages.
Diffusion of maladaptive ideas
A maladaptive diffusion refers to the adoption of traits that are not practical or reflective of the environment or culture of the region.
The following are examples of maladaptive diffusion:
- The spread of grass lawns and monoculture crops, both of which are detrimental to the environment
- Even though wearing blue jeans in the winter is impractical, blue jeans continue to be popular in any weather