Spatial Association of Culture Regions: Definition, Distinctions & Influences

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  • 0:03 Cultural Geography
  • 0:51 Spatial Association
  • 3:05 Culture Regions
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Have you ever noticed that people who live near water eat a lot of fish? Or that rainforests are in areas that have a lot of rain and high temperatures? In this lesson, we'll look at spacial associations in geography, as well as how they relate to culture.

Cultural Geography

Flora is really interested in people and culture. She has noticed that people from different parts of the world are very different from each other. For example, some people like to eat mostly vegetables and fish, and others eat a lot of red meat and potatoes. She wonders why this is.

Cultural geography is the study of how humans and their environment interact. Specifically, cultural geography looks at the effect the Earth has on human culture. A cultural geographer, for example, might try to answer Flora's question about why cultures from different areas of the globe are different.

Let's look closer at the elements of cultural geography that look at how things in a particular area fit together, including spatial association and culture regions.

Spatial Association

Flora is interested in the way that the environment affects people's culture. But more than that, she's interested in the way things that are near each other are similar. She's noticed, for example, that two cultures that share the same river are often more alike than two cultures that are on opposite sides of the world.

There's more to it than that, though. When Flora looks at maps of phenomena, she notices that the maps often overlap. That is, there are certain things that are present in the same area on a map. For example, when Flora looks at a map of high rainfall and high temperatures, she notices that the areas with both of those things also have rainforests. That is, rainforests are distributed similarly to high rainfall and temperatures around the world.

The degree to which things are similarly arranged in space is called spatial association. Think about rainforests and rainfall and temperatures: if Flora takes a map of rainforests, it will look a lot like the map she has that shows areas of high temperature and high rainfall. These things (temperature, rainfall, and rainforests) are associated with each other: to make a rainforest, you need high temperatures and lots of rain. And because they are associated, they end up in the same space. That's why it's called spatial association.

With rainforests, it seems pretty straightforward. But what about with culture? Flora has noticed, for example, that cultures living near water eat a lot of fish. If she looked at two maps, one of cultures that eat a lot of fish and one of cultures that live near water, she would notice that they looked a lot alike. Cultures in the desert, for example, don't eat much fish.

What other spatial associations might Flora notice about cultures that are near water? Well, when she looks at a map of cultures that rely on hydroelectricity (that is, electricity formed by flowing water), she can see that those cultures are all near water. That's not a surprise, since you need water to make hydroelectricity. Like rain and temperature and rainforests, these things are spatially associated because they are dependent upon one another.

Culture Regions

As we've seen, Flora has noticed that people from certain areas of the world have a culture that reflects where they are from. Remember that she's noticed that groups of people living near each other often have more similarities to each other than to people on the other side of the globe.

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