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Environmental and Cultural Determinism

Over the years of studying the world, the history of humankind and its development, scientists have asked what decisive factors have the most significant influence on society’s development. In an attempt to answer this question, they proposed several theories that are designed to explain what exactly determines the path of human culture. Some of the approaches may contradict one another and be opposed, while others may support each other. This paper identifies environmental and cultural determinism, which, despite some contradictions, in certain interpretations can be closely related.

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According to environmental determinism, the path of human development is determined primarily by the geographical environment. It affects the social system, the countries’ economy, and the psychological and physieconomiestures of people (Johnston 2). For example, people living in a warmer climate have no fast developing industries since their environment is more comfortable to survive. They do not have to work as hard as the northern people.

In turn, cultural determinism argues that the development of society depends on the religious and other cultural values that prevail in it. This approach emphasizes that from generation to generation, people transmit specific patterns of behavior. Moreover, according to this approach, culture forms economic, political, and other institutions in society. Examples confirming this theory can be found among neighboring countries, where under similar environmental conditions states have different levels of development and traditions. The countries such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an island, but their established societies are incredibly diverse.

I believe that both approaches are justified and also interrelated. The geographical environment is a prerequisite and a universal means of work as well as a raw material basis for social production. An incredible example of natural resource use is the United Arab Emirates, which has developed a high level of society in a short time due to oil production. Nevertheless, nature is only the initial stage of society development, and how exactly osocialities are used is determined by values. For example, one of the East Asian tigers, Singapore, developed its economy thanks to competent human management, without natural wealth.


Johnston, Tom. “Environmental determinism.” International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment and Technology: People, the Earth, Environment and Technology, 2016, pp. 1-3.

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