Unit 4 Key Terms

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Shared beliefs, values, practices, behaviors and technologies of a society.

Cultural Traits

Visible and invisible attributes that combine to make up a group’s culture


repetitive act of a group, performed to the extent that it becomes characteristic of the group


repetitive act that a particular individual performs

Folk Culture

traditionally practiced primarily by small, homogenous groups of people often living in rural areas that are isolated and unlikely to change

Pop Culture

large, heterogeneous groups of people, often living in urban areas that are interconnected through globalization and internet/social media. Quick to change, time-space compression

Cultural Icons

a symbol that is so unique or close associated with that culture, that it is now linked with that culture

Indigenous (people)

distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy or from which they have been displaced.


what is considered to be normal in the confines of your culture


very strong negative norm that has prohibition of certain behavior that is so strict that violating results in extreme disgust and even expulsion from the group or society


norms that stem from and organize casual interactions and emerge out of repetition and routines (e.g. waiting in line, raising one's hand)


norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance; written rules (usually laws)


norm that is formally inscribed at the state or federal level that is enforced by police or other government agents

Cultural Landscape

a natural landscape that has been modified by humans, reflecting cultural beliefs and values

Cultural Realm(s)

Areas of the world that share cultural traits such as language families, religious traditions, food preferences, architectures, and/or a shared history. These cultural traits comprise a similar cultural landscape (although not the exact same) in each of these areas


influenced by aesthetics (beauty), religion, available building materials, topography and forms of government

Traditional Architecture

Influenced by the environment and built with available local materials. Reflective of history, culture, and climate

Postmodern Architecture

Diverse designs, representative of popular culture, business and economic success. Example: Skyscrapers

Land Use

sacred spaces, community functions; reflects the cultural values of the people living there

Cultural Institutions

Organization within a culture/subculture that works for the preservation or promotion of culture. (e.g. museums)


geographic origin of culture or cultural trait. Traits diffuse from the cultural hearth. (e.g. Tokyo, Paris, London)


traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of people, transmitted orally (e.g. Little Red Riding Hood)

Contagious Diffusion

Cultural trait spreads rapidly, widely, continuously from hearth through close contact (e.g. viral memes or videos, Spanish flu)

Hierarchical Diffusion

Spread of cultural traits from most interconnected, powerful, wealthy people/organizations down to others (e.g. Hip-Hop, clothing fads)

Stimulus Diffusion

As cultural traits spread, they are altered/modified due to a cultural barrier, taboo, or difference (e.g. McDonald's menu in India)

Relocation Diffusion

Spread of cultural trait through migration (e.g. spread of Christianity and Islam)

Factors that affect cultural diffusion

distance decay effect, cultural barriers, physical barriers, political barriers, economic barriers


"Post-acculturation” - dominant culture continues to influence, eventually minor culture disappears


Contact occurs > dominant culture traits are adopted but traditional traits remain important

Culture Shock

personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life (from another culture) (e.g. different language, climate)

Cultural Integration

the process of combining cultures together into one - one group assumes culture of other group without sacrificing own culture (e.g. the restaurant industry aka "Melting Pot")


separation of people based on racial, ethnic, or other differences


Combination/blending of two cultural traits in order to produce a new cultural trait


judging other cultures in terms of one’s own standards and often includes the belief that one’s own culture/ethnic group is better than others


different cultures in a society deserve value and respect for unique differences (e.g. New York City)

Cultural Convergence

theory that two cultures will be more alike as their interactions increase (e.g. change in Taco Bell's menu)

Cultural Divergence

when a culture develops differences and starts to split apart (e.g. the Amish do not use technology)

Material Cultural artifacts

anything that can physically be seen on the landscape (e.g. clothing, architecture, toys)

Non-Materials Cultural concepts

anything on the landscape that comprises culture that cannot be physically touched (e.g. sociofacts, mentifacts)


visible, physical objects created by culture (e.g. clothing, tools, furniture)


the ways in which a society behaves and organizes institutions (e.g. family, education, government, land use)


needs met at a basic level (e.g. transport, communications, water)


society’s economic, social, and political organization


ideology and symbolism

Activity Areas

a geographic extent in which people move in the course of their daily activities

Gendered Areas

places in cultural landscape utilized to reinforce or accommodate gender roles for men and women (e.g. buses for women in Mexico)

Sacred Places

Places of worship


building for public worship and especially Christian worship.


building used for public worship by Muslims.