Make your own free website on

Culture has been defined as "a skill; a luxury; an elite's prestige commodity; asimple aesthetic appreciation; (or) solely a folkloric epiphenomenon."

The definition of culture I use includes every aspect of life:"know-how, technical knowledge, customs of food and dress, religion, mentality, values, language, symbols, socio-political and economic behavior, indigenous methods of taking decisions and exercising power, methods of production and economic relations, and so on."(Verhelst, T 1990 No Life Without Roots London: Zed Books p.17)

Culture: a shared set of meanings that are lived through the material and symbolic practices of everyday life.

Cultural Geography: how space, place and the landscape shape culture at the same time that culture shapes space, place and the landscape.

Environmental determinism

Carl Sauer's cultural landscape

Can culture be mapped?

Religion: belief system and a set of practices that recognize the existence of a power higher than humans.

What problems of scale appear in these maps of religion?

Diffusion of religions

Diffusion of Buddhism

Diffusion of Christianity

Cultural trait: a single aspect of the complex of routine practices that constitute a particular cultural group.

Diffusion of Hip-Hop

Cultural complex: combination of traits characteristic of a particular group.

Cultural region: the areas within which a particular cultural system prevails.

Cultural system: a collection of interacting elements that taken together shape a group's collective identity.

Ideological subsystem:ideas, beliefs, and knowledge of a culture and how they're expressed.

These mythologies, theologies, legends, literature, and philosophies tell us what we ought to believe, what we should value, and how we ought to act.

Sociological subsystem:expected and accepted patterns of interpersonal relations

These economic, political, military, religious, kinship and other associations regulate how the individual functions relative to the group.

Technological subsystem:material objects along with the techniques of their use.

Such objects enable us to feed, clothe, house, defend, transport, and amuse ourselves.

Cultural landscape: a characteristic and tangible outcome of the complex interactions between a human group and a natural environment.

Ordinary landscapes: the everyday landscapes that people create in the course of their lives.

Landscape as text:

the idea that landscapes can be read and written by groups and individuals.

Three images of Los Angeles on p.242 of your textbook: Which is the best map of L.A.?
It all depends . . .

Why are the three maps so different?

Humanistic approach: places the individual -- especially individual values, meaning systems, intensions, and conscious acts -- at the center of analysis.

Sense of place: feelings evoked among people as a result of the experiences and memories that they associate with a place, and to the symbolism that they attach to it.

Proxemics: the study of the social the cultural meanings that people give to personal space.