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Cultural Diffusion, Space-Time Compression and the Limitations on Spatial Interaction Essay

“Globalization in a Bottle” and “The Tipping Point– Three Rules of Epidemics” Chapter 1 Basic Concepts

Essay Question: How do the two articles relate to Chapter One: Basic Concepts through cultural diffusion, the limitation of spatial interaction, and space-time compression?

Whilst reading “Globalization in a Bottle” and “The Tipping Point– Three Rules of Epidemics” three key concepts of “Chapter One: Basic Concepts” become inherently apparent: cultural diffusion, the limitation of spatial interaction, and space-time compression. The two articles clearly depict these three theories, through their choice use of real world examples.

In each of these articles, cultural diffusion is a steady theme throughout. World War II marked the diffusion of Coca-Cola on a global scale, as stated in “Globalization in a Bottle.” The physical movement of soldiers from the US to other parts of the globe facilitated the spread and globalization of the drink and furthermore the brand name. When soldiers were shipped off to foreign lands so was Coca-Cola, and so it became a universal term. This action of spreading an idea through movement earns this incident a spot under the category of relocation diffusion. In “The Tipping Point– Three Rules of Epidemics” hush-puppies become popular once more through contagious diffusion, a subcategory of expansion diffusion, meaning an idea spread through rapid and widespread contact.

The origin of this so-called “epidemic” is believed to have originated among the urban “hipsters” of downtown Manhattan. These young trendsetters would go out to clubs or just simply be seen wearing these shoes and suddenly everyone wanted a pair. Diffusion is a large concept covered throughout these articles. Another underlying idea covered in the extent of the two articles is the limitation of spatial interaction—the interaction of people whether through physical contact or by other means of communication. In “Globalization in a Bottle” this is covered by the resistance of the numerous other countries to building more Coca-Cola processing plants in their territory. Many nations looked at the company as a way to spread Americas demoralizing traditions, therefore they refused to allow Coca-Cola to initially be diffused into their cultures. In “The Tipping Point– Three Rules of Epidemics” the author writes about the sexual promiscuity of homosexual men and their so called aid in the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In turn, this “lewdness” has led members of society with different sexual orientations to look at the gay community as a negative aspect of modern humanity, impeding spatial interaction between the two. One final concept embedded in the two articles is space-time compression, which is the reduction in the time it takes to diffuse something to a distant place as a result of improved communications and transportation systems. Due to the advancements in transportation, the soldiers of World War II were able to transport, and therefore facilitate the diffusion of, Coca-Cola. The same is seen with the newfound demand of hush puppies through word-of-mouth with the upgrades in communication. Overall, both articles clearly portray a society in which space-time compression is fully functioning. In conclusion, “Globalization in a Bottle” and “The Tipping Point– Three Rules of Epidemics” are both distinctly ingrained with the theories of cultural diffusion, limitations of spatial interaction, and space-time compression. The articles utilise great examples of the three ideas and truly give them meaning.

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