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Cultural Traits & Cultural Imperialism

Examine the diffusion of cultural traits resulting from the international movement of workers, tourists and commodities, as well as the influence of cultural imperialism.


Cultural Traits & Cultural Imperialism

Examine the diffusion of cultural traits resulting from the international movement of workers, tourists and commodities, as well as the influence of cultural imperialism.

How do global interactions bring cultural influences and changes to places?

What cultural sterotypes from your culture are you guilty of doing?


Globalisation is viewed as key process in driving culture towards a global model. Media TNCs and the movement of workers and tourists contribute to this change, as well as elements of power through global organisations and processes such as cultural imperialism.



the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute the shared basis of social tradition


cultural hearth

an area that is or has been a rich source of cultural traits

cultural traits

individual components of a cultural complex which may be divided into three categories: sociological, ideological and technological


cultural diffusion

the spread of cultural traits, either as a result of increased movement of people, or forced e.g cultural imperialism


cultural IDENTITY

Create a collage of images with labels showing the cultural traits that you identify with.

Access the resource above to find out about cultural understanding in your country

Access the resource above to find out about cultural understanding in your country

  1. Language
  2. Customs
  3. Beliefs
  4. Dress 
  5. Images
  6. Music 
  7. Food 
  8. Technology


Linguistic Map

Linguistic Map



Cultural imperialism refers to the imposition by one usually politically or economically dominant community of various aspects of its own culture onto another, nondominant community.

It is cultural in that the customs, traditions, religion, language, social and moral norms, and other aspects of the imposing community are distinct from, though often closely related to, the economic and political systems that shape the other community.

It is a form of imperialism in that the imposing community forcefully extends the authority of its way of life over the other population by either transforming or replacing aspects of the nondominant community’s culture.




“Cultural diffusion is a process that takes place in many ways but can be halted by many barriers.” Discuss this statement. (15 marks)


Pathways for cultural diffusion include the movements of workers and tourists who carry cultural traits with them.

A wide variety of traits could be explored, such as language, religion, arts and music, cuisine, fashion etc. The movement of commodities and the diffusion of the internet and films, orchestrated by technology, TNCs and global media corporations respectively, are other key ways in which “messages” are transmitted.

Military and imperial ventures could also be discussed. A “Trojan horse” strategy of contemporary glocalization could be explored – wherein western cultural icons (for example, denim, burgers etc.) gain access to foreign markets by donning “cultural camouflage”).

MGO membership – notably the EU – also aids cultural transfers by easing restrictions on a variety of flows and pathways for cultural diffusion (such as greater freedom of movement for people or goods).

The barriers may be physical, political, economic or cultural and they can include nationalism and anti-globalisation movements and sentiments. A range of local responses could be explored that challenge cultural imperialism or at least negotiate glocalised outcomes in ways that restrict the pace of cultural change (censorship of Google in China is one example).

To access bands D and E, the answer should be well balanced between coverage of the processes themselves and of possible barriers to their operation. The best answers may look beyond a “black and white” world (where processes of exchange either do or do not operate) and might critically explore ways in which global cultural exchanges are negotiated locally, resulting in partial or selective transfers of culture that bring into being new hybridised cultural forms (language, art, music or cuisine often show a “fusion” of different influences).


Cultural Dilution

Explain how Chinese actions in Tibet have contributed to cultural dilution

Cultural Dilution

Explain how Chinese actions in Tibet have contributed to cultural dilution


Cultural dilution is viewed as a negative outcome of globalisation processes. It is a process that involves the addition of different cultural traits within a host nation, or the suppression of cultural traits within a nation, or both. Think about some examples of this that you know of and be prepared to contribute to a discussion about this.



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Prior to China’s invasion in 1950, Tibet maintained a unique culture, religion and language for centuries.

Today, this culture is under threat from mass Chinese immigration and the strict control of all expressions of Tibetan culture and national identity.

Photo: Pedro Saraiva

Photo: Pedro Saraiva

China boasts of huge investment in Tibet but its economic development is primarily intended to cement its hold on Tibet and enhance its ability to exploit Tibet's natural resources. Economic development has improved conditions for some Tibetans but overwhelmingly it favours Chinese migrants, continuing to disadvantage Tibetans economically. 

Along with other countries around the world, Tibet has changed greatly over the past 65 years. However, Tibetans continue to work to preserve their culture and resist oppressive policies on a daily basis. (Source)

Click to explore Tibet's history and cultural identity (Source)

Click to explore Tibet's history and cultural identity (Source)

  1. Compare and contrast cultural dilution and cultural hybridity
  2. Explain the ways in which China influences control over Tibet and Tibetan culture (p 588)
  3. Explore the resources above and on
  4. Create a case study summary file with images, facts and specific examples


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Examine the glocalisation of branded commodities & cultural hybridity


Examine the glocalisation of branded commodities & cultural hybridity



leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others



glocalisation is a combination of "globalisation" and "localisation", used to describe a product or service that is developed and distributed globally, but is also adjusted to accommodate the user or consumer in a local market.



  • Critics of globalisation view the process as a predatory force driven by corporate capitalism

  • Some argue that the presence of global brands in local cultures produce cultural heterogeneity

  • Others view globalisation as a force of homogenisation, with global brands acting as Trojan horses through which transnational corporations colonise local cultures



Watch the video. Explain why glocalisation of globally branded products is seen by some as a “trojan horse strategy”. From this perspective, who/what are the Greeks, Trojans, horse etc.?



Explore the Prezi below. Explain the ways in which Starbucks uses glocalisation to expand its global markets.



  1. Define globalisation and glocalisation

  2. Describe 3 examples of glocalisation

  3. Explain why glocalisation occurs

  4. Create a summary of McDonalds and Coca Cola from pp 590-592


essay question

Explain how and why glocalization occurs [10 marks]

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Homogenisation of Landscapes

Explain the evolution of uniform urban landscapes; the effects of common commercial activity, structures, styles of construction and infrastructure.

Homogenisation of Landscapes

Explain the evolution of uniform urban landscapes; the effects of common commercial activity, structures, styles of construction and infrastructure.

On an A4 piece of paper, draw a labelled diagram of a large city from above. Share it with the class.

Homogenisation of landscapes is the process whereby different landscapes in a country increasingly resemble those found in other countries because similar processes of change are at work.

COMMON structures and styles of construction

The globalised nature of city planning and architecture has led to increasingly homogenised landscapes that cater for the limited needs of humans.

Watch the videos below and read the article. Explain the reasons for increasingly similar urban design.



Gentrification is a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district's character and culture.

The term is often used negatively, suggesting the displacement of poor communities by rich outsiders.

But the effects of gentrification are complex and contradictory, and its real impact varies. (Source)

Demographics: An increase in median income, a decline in the proportion of racial minorities, and a reduction in household size, as low-income families are replaced by young singles and couples.

Real Estate Markets: Large increases in rents and home prices, increases in the number of evictions, conversion of rental units to ownership (condos) and new development of luxury housing.

Land Use: A decline in industrial uses, an increase in office or multimedia uses, the development of live-work "lofts" and high-end housing, retail, and restaurants.

Culture and Character: New ideas about what is desirable and attractive, including standards (either informal or legal) for architecture, landscaping, public behavior, noise, and nuisance.



Using examples, analyse the increasing uniformity of many of the world’s urban landscapes. [12 marks]


“Uniformity” might relate to increased homogeneity of appearance, the growth of branded “commodityscapes” (clone towns), the trend towards a “global language” of modern architecture (“technoscapes”), the recurrence of some global diaspora groups in multiple world cities (eg, Chinatowns). The concept of landscape could also encompass the associated concept of soundscape (common music and languages that are heard in many places) and the ubiquity of English or Spanish words and brand names in advertising and public spaces in world cities and airports.

The analysis should go beyond mere description to offer some analysis of why this is happening (this might encompass the power of TNCs, superpower states such as the USA, the influential role of some architects).

Good answers may analyse the category of “urban landscapes” and might distinguish, using the concept of scale, between megacities, world cities and smaller towns. Another approach would be to analyse a trend towards uniformity in some – but not all – respects. There are many “mixed” urban landscapes, like London and Paris, which retain heritage alongside new technoscapes (in contrast to some cities, such as Doha and Dubai, which lack the same mix).

Do not over-credit answers which compare the size, function and sustainability of cities unless there is some clear reference to the taught elements of the paper three course which deal with landscape characteristics.

For band C (4-6 marks), expect a weakly-evidenced outline of one or two ways in which recognisable places are becoming increasingly uniform (eg branded logos).

For band D (7-8 marks), expect

  • either a more detailed and well-exemplified analysis of the increased uniformity of urban landscapes

  • or an analysis that contains explanatory elements (such as the power of planners and corporations, or demands of consumers).

For band E (9-10 marks), expect both band D traits.

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How diasporas influence cultural diversity and identity at both global and local scales


How diasporas influence cultural diversity and identity at both global and local scales

Diaspora: a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale, usually resulting from a movement of the population from its original homeland.

World's Largest Diaspora by County (2015)

Are diaspora communities contributing to global cultural hybridity or homogeneity?


Diaspora communities represent global networks of connected people that bring a number of socio-cultural and economic benefits for home and destination countries. While we are focused on the impact on culture, it is useful to begin by examining the value of diaspora communities to the global economy.

  1. Read and highlight the article.

  2. Name 3 examples of diaspora communities and provide data explaining their importance.

  3. Explain how diaspora communities facilitate the flow of:

    • goods

    • ideas

    • capital

  4. Describe the benefits of diaspora communities for source and host countries




Chinatown in a North American city ( Source )

Chinatown in a North American city (Source)


Explore Chinatowns around the world and identify similar cultural traits. To what extent are Chinatowns an example of cultural homogenisation resulting from diaspora populations?

Around 40 million people of Chinese origin live outside of China, making it one of the largest and most influential global diaspora populations.

Chinatowns, an important symbol of Chinese culture and identity, can be found in most major world cities. Most people around the world enjoy Chinese food and have assimilated this into the culture.



Chinese cultural influence goes hand in hand with Chinese economic influence. Chinese investment can be found all over the world and has increased each year. As a result, more and more people are interested in assimilating elements of Chinese culture, such as language. 

In 2010, 750,000 people took the Chinese Language Proficiency Test compared to 117,660 in 2005, an increase of 26.52%. 

Number of people learning Chinese on the rise in Uzbekistan

From 2000 to 2004, the number of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland taking A-Level exams in Chinese increased by 57%. An independent school in the UK made Chinese one of their compulsory subjects for study in 2006. The study of Chinese is also rising in the United States. The USC U.S.-China Institute cited a report that 51,582 students were studying the language in US colleges and universities, three times higher than in 1986.



There are more Chinese restaurants in the USA than there are McDonalds restaurants in the whole world




Examine the map and name the top four destinations for Jamaican migrants.

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Jamaicans can be found all over the world, however the largest concentrations of Jamaicans abroad can be found in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other Caribbean islands.

In the past 30 years, more than 1 million Jamaicans have emigrated to the US, UK and Canada. Many Jamaicans moved to the UK to help postwar reconstruction in the 1940s. Today, 4% of people from London are of wholly or partly Jamaican heritage. Many people are now at least second, if not third or fourth-generation Black British Caribbeans.

This has influenced the cultural diversity of the UK in a number of ways. 


influence on music - drum and bass

Drum and Bass is a form of electronic music with heavy bass lines that came to popularity in the UK in the 1990s. Young people of Jamaican origin began mixing dance music records like house music with dub reggae records to form new styles.

Listen to the podcast and explain how Jamaican communities influenced the music scene in London.


influence on food - jamaican jerk

Jamaican jerk chicken is a popular form of street food in the UK ( Source )

Jamaican jerk chicken is a popular form of street food in the UK (Source)

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica, in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.

It was originally developed by African slaves who fled into the wilds of Jamaica when the British invaded the island in 1655. Adapting to their new surroundings, the slaves made use of the natural food sources available to them, creating the spicy sauce and slowly cooking the meat over a smoking wood fire. Nowadays, the smoky taste of the meat is achieved using various alternative cooking methods, including the use of modern wood burning ovens.

Describe the distribution of Jerk Chicken restaurants in London


influence on language - jamaican patois

Jamaican patois (pat-waa) is a form of English that originated in Jamaica. It has influenced the English language of communities in Toronto, Canada and London, UK. 

Watch the video and note how Drake's musical and lyrical style is influenced by the Jamaican diaspora.



Using examples, explain how diaspora communities influence cultural diversity at different scales [10 marks]


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