Evaluation of Cultural, Social and Technological Diffusion in the Modern World

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An Evaluation of Cultural, Social and

Technological Diffusion in the Modern World

Brian Daurelle

When two different cultures come together, their better ideas, innovations and ideals tend to mesh into one another.  It pertains mostly to technological advances that one people have on meeting another group, that this second group then learns of and takes advantage of.  This happens invariably whenever two cultural groups interact for a sustained time; it is particularly acute when developed culture collides with a less developed one.  Diffusion is the process of cultural integration by the mixing of ideas and objects.  To some critics, this process is a destruction of smaller ethnic cultures and a loss of diversity, driving them to term it 'Cultural Contamination.  The following are several specific cases in which such 'contamination' or diffusion has occurred, and an appraisal of its effect on the world.

        The great cities in Africa are prime examples of diffusion. The cultural and ethnic diversity there spans a broad range.  While the common people may still wash their clothing and get their drinking at a village or personal well, they can also be found talking on cell phones, which have become integrated into society in many African nations.  One of the biggest indicators of diffusion from Europe and America (the 'Western' cultures) are the African Political Leaders.  Modern African Politicians are becoming valued more for their leadership and education rather than their backgrounds, as was the case in the time when Africa was rife with ethnic tensions and revolutions. The King of Ghana, for example, is a native from Kumasi, Ghana, but he is also an Oxford Graduate, a member of the Inns of Court in London, and a devout Catholic.  Of course, there are people who think that such modernizations are ‘contaminating’ ancient traditions of tribal rule and culture.  These people, who could be called purists, are almost always foreigners, often from developed Western countries, with little knowledge of what it’s like to live in the shadow of world powers.  The natives have an idea of how the culture and tradition have changed to suit their developing technology, even in the ancient past, and diffusion of western culture should be no different.  (Appiah, The Case for Contamination)  The question becomes whether or not modern tribal cultures of Africa are to be viewed as absolute, concrete ways of life, or a still-changing framework that has adapted and can adapt.  That such adaptations may take a lifetime or more to happen should be no deterrent to letting them take place.

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        Yet while the life in many African cities has been globalized, just twenty miles out from the city one can still find mostly native peoples and cultures.  Such cities in Africa are like embassies from the rest of the world, small branches of a far-off way of life.  Much of African society hasn’t even begun to suffer from ‘cultural contamination’ on a dramatic scale. Furthermore, in general, the people there can hardly wait until they are brought up from their lower standard of living.  They know that their culture can adapt to modernization and westernization, as it has done for ...

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