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Human Geography, Interactive Study Questions: Chapter 07

Click on each question to check your answer.

1. What are some of the debates that have arisen concerning the interaction between religion and secularism in some societies?

Secularism tends to be more popular than religious belief in urban areas of the world. Secularism comes into conflict with religion when people reject all religious beliefs and want those beliefs to remain entirely separate from the state. The two beliefs can also come into conflict when religious people are in positions of authority in secular societies and may not be able to separate their religious beliefs from the decisions they make. Some of the issues affected are the subject of evolution in education and debates over contraception, abortion, and capital punishment.

2. There are hundreds of religions globally but only three are considered to be universalizing. Why do you think this is?

A universalizing religion is one which actively tries to convert more people to that religion. The three religions which are considered universalizing are Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. The universalizing trait of these religions can be seen by studying maps and considering how far these religions have spread globally. Ethnic religions, on the other hand, are closely identified with ethnic groups and it can be seen on maps that these religions do not tend to spread as far and are not, therefore, considered universalizing.

3. How is language associated with national identity?

Language is associated with national identity in a variety of ways. For example, the official language(s) of a country clearly defines which cultural group is in power. Common languages also facilitate communication—hence, a common language might make it easier to define a nation’s boundaries via its language boundaries. Multilingual states also exist; however, it is common for there to be political instability due to tensions between language groups in these states. A nation may also have unofficial, minority languages—lingua franca, a Creole or a pidgin. These may or may not be recognized or facilitated by a nation’s government or members and, hence, may affect whether the speakers identify with that nation’s identity or not.

4. Are regions changing as a result of cultural globalization?

Cultural globalization is the process by which regions are becoming increasingly interconnected through communications avenues such as news, television, and the Internet. However, whether this is affecting regions is difficult to measure, and therefore, contested. Some regions have retained a distinctive cultural identity while remaining globally connected to other regions. However, other regions have embraced globalized identities—for instance, through the establishment of global franchises and the continued consumption of globally produced products.

5. What does the global distribution of language tell geographers about culture and society?

The global distribution of language tells geographers how cultures have moved over time. It also describes the immigration policies of some nations, as well as the prevalence of multiple languages, or even which languages are dominant in various power structures.