The Five Stages of Culture – Stage 4

Poly-cultural: A term for an assertion that all of the world’s cultures are interrelated

Poly means many or much, it also means to combine form. A polycultural marketplace is one that is comprised of blended cultures.

Polycultural marketers know that their marketplace is not only made up of a mosaic of individuals, from different cultures and ethnicities but that each individual within that marketplace identifies with and is influenced by a number of different cultures.

A polycultural workplace seeks to understand individual needs and encourages a fluid culture.

Synonym – Transcend

Where you might have seen this term used before:

Farming – Polycultural is a practice used in the agricultural industry to strengthen two or more crops by growing them in the same space. This may be because one crop wards off dangers to the second and/or because the two share similar hydration needs.

Sociology – In social studies, polyculturalism describes cultures as fluid, overlapping, and ever changing.

Music – Polyphonic means to produce many sounds. Music is a great analogy for a polycultural society. For example, Jazz music was born out of the combination of call-and-response and other vocal patterns that have their origins in African music, influences from American-southern church harmonies, and Carribean-rhythm. It uses instruments from the American, European, and African continents. The result is a kind of music all its own that later evolved into rock, pop, and rap music. Musical evolution continues today on a global scale. Take for instance Electronic Dance Music (EDM) which borrows influences from across every continent and appeals to people on every shore.

Potential workplace outcomes:

Positive – Encourages for individuality and the freedom for new generations to evolve existing cultures or establish new ones altogether.

Negative – Criticized by those who are strong advocates of tradition and/or cultural authenticity. Difficult to tabulate. 

Examples of it in modern fiction and current events:

Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama is Hawaiian born to a white mother from Wichita, Kansas and black father from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Kenya.

Blackish – In the show Blackish the main character Dre Johnson begins to question how much of the culture he’s bestowing on his children has to do with his roots, how much comes from his interracial wife, and how much is influenced by general cultural assimilation on his part.

Creole Cuisine – Part Spanish, part French, part Haitian, part African, part German… Creole cuisine is wholly different from Cajun food if you ask the right communities and an entirely American phenomenon.

Example images: 

While collectively these images represent a variety of people, cultures, and ethnicities each shows individuals representing one or more traditionally independent cultures resulting in a blend of cultures.

This article is the fourth in a five-part series on closing the generational cultural gap between the workplace and the marketplace. Originally published in the State of the Total Market Industry Report,  today’s workplace is two generations culturally removed from the marketplace. This article series provides a contextual lens on workplace and marketplace cultural definitions – understanding these nuanced differences can help identify and  #closethegap between the workplace and marketplace.

Interested in learning more about how to capture your total addressable market? Please be sure to check out these posts:

Mind The Gap: Why You’re Not Engaging 40% Of Your Market

Mono-cultural Defined

Multi-cultural Defined

Cross-cultural Defined

Trans-cultural Defined

Or get the industry’s first report on The State Of The Total Market Industry Vertical here.