What is Cultural Diffusion?
Cultural diffusion is the spreading and mixing of many world cultures. Increased exposure to foreign cultures in the late 20th and early 21st century has been the main cause of cultural diffusion. Some examples of cultural diffusion are American movies being played in foreign countries, and Chinese restaurants being found in countries other than China. Cultural diffusion is attributed to three factors, transportation, technology, and better education. Because all three of those things are on the rise, cultures diffuse more and more each day. Cultural diffusion can be separated into six groups, Social, Political, Religious, Intellectual, Technological, and Economic. Looking at today's society, we can find examples of cultural diffusion that will fit into each of these classifications.
This is a MacDonald's restaurant in Saudi Arabia. This picture is an example of cultural diffusion because MacDonald's is an American restaurant that has expanded to have locations all over the world. There are similar examples of this cultural diffusion in America, where it is easy to find ethnic restaurants that serve foreign food.
This picture is of several world leaders gathered together. Because of the technology and transportation advances in recent decades, world leaders are able to meet more often. Technology and transportation are major parts of cultural diffusion, because they allow cultures to travel faster.
This picture shows American Muslims. Many years ago, Islam was almost exclusively found in Africa and the Middle East. However, through cultural diffusion, Muslims are now found everywhere in the world, including North and South America, Asia, and Europe. Because of advances in transportation and education, Muslims are able to live wherever they want.
This graph shows the rising literacy rates of Pakistan over the last several decades. Literacy is on the rise in developing countries because of cultural diffusion. The education systems of developed countries are starting to transfer to developing countries, resulting in higher literacy rates. Without cultural diffusion, it is unlikely that we would see this same rise in literacy.
This picture shows Kygryz herders. The Kygryz people live in the mountains of northeast Afghanistan, and are completely isolated from the rest of the world. However, the Kygryz herders do use cellphones to take pictures and play music (they are useless for communication because cellular service doesn't reach them). This is an example of cultural diffusion through technology, because the picture shows that even the most isolated people in the world still use cellphones.
This map of international trading blocs shows how economics are affected by cultural diffusion. Today's transportation means that it is not uncommon for products to be manufactured in many faraway countries. For instance, the shirt you are wearing was probably not manufactured in America. Because it is now common to use products that were manufactured all over the world, economics are very heavily affected by cultural diffusion.