Global Cultural Flows

The next theorist I am going to use to analyze the symbolism of the engagement ring is Arjun Appadurai. His ideas of the international cultural flows that exist today use the notion, “scapes” to allow us to understand the fluid, irregular shapes that represent various angles influenced by history, linguistics, and political situations. Of ethnoscapes, technoscapes, financescape, mediascape, and ideoscape. These five factors contribute to the global exchange of ideas and information.

I like Appadurai’s idea of  these scapes are the building blocks to the creation of an, “imagined world.” Each scape plays a role in the historical significance behind the engagement ring and how it has changed over time. This can be seen through images of engagement rings in advertisements and the types of messages they express about gender roles. I can also analyze how these images produce ideas which can define different types of people in a society.

Ethnoscape is the shifting around of people in the world and how those individuals form different cultural politics as a result. This means that culture blends and changes as people move around. As the engagement ring originated as metal and today is of gold and diamonds, how and why did this change take place? Why is the wedding and engagement ring worn on the left hand in certain countries but not in others? etc.

Technoscapes are the global configurations of technologies and how it can move across boundaries at high speeds. The flow of machinery, technology, and software produced by trans-national corporations can be tied into the diamond industry and its success world-wide to meet the demand of the global people.

Financescapes are the disposition of global capital and the flow of currencies and capital accross international borders.

Mediascapes refer to the distribution of information through television, newspapers, magazines, and film in mass quantities. This is the most important for my research, as I will be analyzing the media and the types of images that are presented with the engagement ring, who produces these images and what is the underlying message?

Ideoscapes are the distribution of images that have to do with the dominant ideologies of states and the movements related to state power. The flow of western views of democracy, welfare rights, and sovereignty are tied into this as well.

If we are all connected to one another through these five scapes, how does this affect the culture and symbolism of the diamond engagement ring as it is a cultural practice in several different cultures and countries?


A. Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” from Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Pp. 27-47, University of Minnesota Press, 1996.


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