Where does cultural variation come from?

  • Created by: aneeka
  • Created on: 19-05-19 11:04

Where does cultural variation come from?

Ecological and geographic variation

- One explanation for the different cultures that we have comes from where people reside. People lived many years ago - their geographical location. It is clear that their environment would have an effect on their daily lives. Physical environments can have a direct and an indirect effect on culture. For example, if you reside in an environment where you don't have large mammals roaming around, you wouldn't have a culture in your family/environment of hunting 

- Differences in ecology:

Different kinds of food

Different lifestyle

Different psychologies

e.g., The differences in ecology can influence cultural variation in gender roles: the harsher the environment (and requires strength and physical mobility to obtain food) and the scarcer the resources, the more masculinity is valued. 

- Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: he felt that it was geography and the biogeographical factors (not race) that are what moulded societies today 

- Sometimes small variations in ecologies can lead to dramatically different cultures. In 1532 during Pizarro's consequence of Atahuallpa, he only had 168 spanish soldiers with him when he met the emperor. Emperor surrounded by 80,000 soldiers. Within a day of Pizarro being there with his soldiers, he captured the emperor and killed almost 7,000 of the emperors men and eventually, killed off most of the men and conquered the empire = events such as these can be explained by proximal and distal causes.

- Proximal causes are those that have direct and immediate relations with their effect. In 953 conquest: they were able to take over because they had political organisation fueled by written history, oceangoing ships (travel), steel swors and armour, and guns, and horses. However, the others only had stone clubs, slingshots and a quilt of armour. During that time there was a smallpox epidemic - first time spanish came over, they brought disease so a lot of the other population was wiped out at the time. Because of these factors that 168 soldiers able to conquer empire because of their advantages. But why such a big advantage?

Distal causes: Initial differences that then lead to effects over long periods and often through indirect relations. Jared Diamond believes that its actually these subtle diffrences in geography allowed the spanish to defeat the others. In a region known as the fertile crescent hosted a unique collection of plant (wheat, barley) and animal species (sheep, goat, pigs) and all of these were suitable for domestication and this provided the basis for agriculture. There was no region in the world that had this many plants/animals that could be used for domestication. Because the latitude that goes from East to West is similiar (similiar climate), domestication could be easily spread across the entire fertile crescent (The Fertile Crescent is bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and on the East by the Persian Gulf). 
- Domesticated species spread quickly along a west-east axis in Europe. 
- Birth of agriculture led to…


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