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Tidbits of Inspiration: Culture & Kisses

May 27, 2011

For most speculative fiction writers Worldbuilding is an important part of writing – whether you do it up-front before you dive into your narrative or more on the back-end as an organic outgrowth of the writing process.  And  if you’re worldbuilding, you’ll probably have to think, at least a little, about culture.

And so it was that I was fascinated to listen to this story, today, on NPR: “Of War and Kisses: How Adversity Shapes Culture“.  The article is about a study that draws a link between national adversity (war and contention with neighbors and other problems and disasters) and population density with the relative strictness or tightness of a culture.  There seems to be, based on this study, some correlation between nations that are constantly embattled or face regular hardship and a very strict culture, and likewise between very dense populations and a very strict culture, whereas the reverse also seems to be true: nations that are not constantly embattled or which have very diffuse populations tend to be less strict or tight, and more accepting of cultural faux pas.  Although, there are, of course, exceptions.

Still, it’s an interesting thing to think about, when you get to the part of your worldbuilding where you’re thinking about the cultures you are portraying in your story.  Go take a look at the story on NPR and let it muddle around in your mind a bit…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2011 12:45 pm

    Interesting to consider the implications of density upon strictness of culture. Great link! It makes sense. I’d be interested to see more analysis on the exceptions to the general rule as well.

    • May 27, 2011 12:51 pm

      Likewise, but it’s definitely food-for-though, worldbuilding-wise, regardless. We can have exceptions in our works… but those exceptions should probably be exceptions… I’d be interested in learning a bit more about this, too (though I do imagine reading the whole academic study might be a bit too dense for me).

  2. May 27, 2011 3:50 pm

    Good stuff to consider, Stephen. There are so many ways to show differences between cultures. Finding a manageable few that work best for your story and portraying them consistently (and believably) on the page can be challenging!

    • May 27, 2011 8:50 pm

      Agreed… there are a lot of dimensions to culture… a lot possibilities to make things interesting. Staying consistent is an important part of staying believable.

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