Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Be An Agent of Cultural Change

Written by: on October 8, 2015



Social Geographies: Space and Society by Gill Valentine is a very unique look at geography based on the most basic words in the English vocabulary. Using common words such as body, home, community, institution, street, city, rural and nation. The author defines it this way;   “the plural social geographies which emerge here are a porous product, an expression of the many connections and interrelationships that exist between the different fields of geographic inquiry.” [1] This is what the book is about: interpretation of simple, common, everyday words that have such deep and wide complexity. Our perspective of these words defines our understanding and our worldview. It defines our society and our space.


The author was trying to draw from a simple viewpoint but not as an expert on the subject but more as a tour guide to the concepts that are so complex that it can’t be completely defined.   She stated it for the reader like this: “Some of these connections for you are in the text to draw your attention to them. Others are there for you to find.”[2] This way of approaching an intense subject is very engaging and intriguing. It causes the reader, to think for him or herself and to come to their own conclusions because of the exposure to a really wide brush stroke of material. (She then gave a detailed way to outline your own dissertation, which will be incorporated in this author’s pursuit of becoming a writer.)


The one word that kept leaping off the page was the simple word culture.   Every time a new subject was introduced there was a definition of the cultural setting or landscape that it was in.   Assumed culture or applied culture affects the outcome of any of these words. Rural culture or city culture affects the geography. Every place has a culture and people either fit in that culture or not. When it came to sexuality, culture was one of the determining factors. Gaining status happens through cultural practice, this allows individuals to demonstrate their taste and judgment.   “There has been a cultural turn: a trend in the twentieth and twenty first century which has seen the social sciences and humanities increasingly focus on culture.”[3] We are shaped by culture.

In the context of this whole book, culture shapes geographies. Here are a few examples: Body: cultural and social values in Western society construct particular groups (gypsies, lesbians and gay men.)[4] Home: factors like culture, taste and emotional attachment can shape your residential choices.[5] Community: including culture, values, language, morality and so on.[6] Institution: being a part of the ‘team’ or ‘family’ points out that an awareness of the potential value of workplace culture dates back to the 1930’s. [7]

How much power is there in the fact that your culture can shape how you view and act on these simple words? Culture affects meanings, identity and life.

Can you change your own culture? What will your own culture look like? Are you willing to go against the main stream to develop your own culture? In the work place will you bring something to the culture? In your home, will you determine the culture? Did Christ change his culture? Are we called to change our culture?   Be a light? Be salt?


Develop your culture and then shape your geography! Be an agent of cultural change.


Kevin Norwood


[1]Gill Valentine, Social Geographies: Space and Society, Harlow, UK, Prentice Hall,

2001, 1.

[2]IBID 12.

[3]IBID 342.

[4]IBID 342.

[5]IBID 32.

[6]IBID 114.

[7]IBID 154.

About the Author


Kevin Norwood

My name is Kevin Norwood and I have been in youth ministry for the past 34 years. On February 14th, 1994, 27 years ago, we moved to Owasso OK and wow what a ride. My wife, Ann, is an RN and specializes in Clinical Documentation working from home. Maci is a my 21 year old daughter and she loves and shows horses. Her horse's name is Charlie. She is currently working with animals and loves to go on trail rides with her horse. London is my 10 year old son and he keeps me young. He absolutely loves life!! Golfing, baseball and Hawaii is his latest adventures. He skied for the first time in Colorado this year. I have started a coaching business for pastors at www.kevinnorwood.com and it is exciting the doors that God is opening. I earned my Doctorate in Leadership and Global Perspectives from George Fox on Feb 10, 2018.

10 responses to “Be An Agent of Cultural Change”

  1. Claire Appiah says:

    Excellent point! – “Be an agent of cultural change.” That is, be proactive in bringing about positive change rather than murmuring and complaining or being apathetic to what is going on in the world. Kevin, as a youth pastor what do you think about what Valentine states about children and youth as the “dangerous others” on the streets? (Valentine: 180-184).

  2. Aaron Cole says:

    Kevin, great blog and great point. I like you perspective on culture and how Valentine defined and used it. As you look at changing culture, do you think there is a culture or cultural mindset that cannot be changed and why?

  3. Claire,
    As I read through the pages that you questioned me about I find one thing that is fully present: stereotypes. I believe this book has some serious issues with a “broad brush mentality.” Everyone in one age group lumped together. What about the thousands of youth group kids that serve and do community service. What about the athletes that read to younger age students? What about student council students that lead their school? Every color of student leads in their respective high schools and there is no mention of this but there is a theory based on a knee jerk reaction to students who would be defined as juvenile delinquents. The dangerous others as such a small sliver of society that they are daily overridden by their majority counter parts!! I don’t agree with the authors viewpoint.

  4. Aaron,

    I have thought about the issue that you asked me about. That is why I found the content of the book to be completely based on culture. Every perspective that was introduced has to go through the filter of culture.

    Is there a culture that cannot be changed? Here is my perspective. You can’t change your past but you can change your future. There is always a possibility to change your future but it is a choice. When you bring Christianity into the picture the simple idea that nothing is impossible with God there is always a possibility for change. What holds most people back is the simple word in my phrase. You! It is a choice always for the “you.”

    I know you can’t change what your past is: environment, family, upbringing… and the list could go on indefinitely. But there is always a possibility to change where you are going. Is it easy? No, most definitely not! Belief in God gives an opportunity for there to be change. Even the most impossible circumstances.

    From the worlds standpoint, yes there are cultures that cannot be changed. Unless there is catastrophic circumstances most cultures can’t change naturally, so I can see the secular side of this question as well. Thanks for making me think.

    The supernatural being real makes things possible that are impossible any other way. So I am glad that my belief system includes the supernatural power of God.


  5. Hi Kevin. I really enjoyed reading your post and the comments. I like your comment to Aaron Cole that we can’t change our past but we can change our future. It reminds me of the Bible verses that talk about how we are a new creation in Christ. As I read through 1 Corinthians I get the feeling like Paul is saying, “Hey there, create a new culture with love at the center. Love builds up.” In your opinion, how does one break free from the past to create a new future? We can’t change the past, but sometimes our past holds us back from the future.

    • I personally believe that a relationship with Christ is the number one way to break free from your past and move into your future. Other ways to do that sometimes require geographically moving away and sometimes completely changing or putting up boundaries for influencers in your life. A change of friends might be the simple way to say that last statement.

      Jackie Pullinger I believe touched on this culture change in how she brings in students. how they change students and then how they release them back into society. Culture change! It actually can work!


  6. Marc Andresen says:


    When my son was studying sociology at the U of Oregon, one of his professors said that he thought we were seeing a rise in the number of people self-identifying as homosexual because the culture was creating a climate the supported that choice. He did not mean that it was freeing people to come out, but that the new “openness” was actually actively placing that choice on the table.

    Based on Valentine, do you think that’s possible?

    • Marc,

      I work with teenagers who have all kinds of identity issues. If someone even hints that because they can’t get a date they might be homosexual in this day and time they explore that because of the openness of our society. I believe young men from past generations struggled with those thoughts personally but would have NEVER shared that with anyone to confirm or deny their sexuality.

      Boys that have had there mother say those words to them can send them on that journey faster than any conversation I know. That is a difference between generations and the power of words.


  7. Phil Goldsberry says:


    Thank you for illuminating the following quote: “Some of these connections for you are in the text to draw your attention to them. Others are there for you to find.”[2] Part of the “rub” for me was some of the innuendos that Valentine derived from the research that she reported.

    Saying all of that, I also found the section on community quite helpful.


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