Cultural imperialism

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Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting a more powerful culture over a least known or desirable culture. It is usually the case that the former belongs to a large, economically or militarily powerful nation and the latter belongs to a smaller, less powerful one. Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active, formal policy or a general attitude. A metaphor of colonialism is employed: the cultural products of the first world "invade" the third-world and "conquer" local culture.[1] In the stronger variants of the term, world domination (in a cultural sense) is the explicit goal of the nation-states or corporations that export the culture.[1] The term is usually used in a pejorative sense, usually in conjunction with a call to reject foreign influence.

Contents

Background and definitions

The term appears to have emerged in the 1960s.[2] and has been a focus of research since at least the 1970s.[3] Terms such as "media imperialism", "structural imperialism", "cultural dependency and domination", "cultural synchronization", "electronic colonialism", "ideological imperialism", and "economic imperialism" have all been used to describe the same basic notion of cultural imperialism.[4]

Various academics give various definitions of the term. American media critic Herbert Schiller wrote: "The concept of cultural imperialism today [1975] best describes the sum of the processes by which a society is brought into the modern world system and how its dominating stratum is attracted, pressured, forced, and sometimes bribed into shaping social institutions to correspond to, or even promote, the values and structures of the dominating centre of the system. The public media are the foremost example of operating enterprises that are used in the penetrative process. For penetration on a significant scale the media themselves must be captured by the dominating/penetrating power. This occurs largely through the commercialization of broadcasting."[5]

Tom McPhail defined "Electronic colonialism as the dependency relationship established by the importation of communication hardware, foreign-produced software, along with engineers, technicians, and related information protocols, that vicariously establish a set of foreign norms, values, and expectations which, in varying degrees, may alter the domestic cultures and socialization processes."[6] Sui-Nam Lee observed that "communication imperialism can be defined as the process in which the ownership and control over the hardware and software of mass media as well as other major forms of communication in one country are singly or together subjugated to the domination of another country with deleterious effects on the indigenous values, norms and culture."[7] Ogan saw "media imperialism often described as a process whereby the United States and Western Europe produce most of the media products, make the first profits from domestic sales, and then market the products in Third World countries at costs considerably lower than those the countries would have to bear to produce similar products at home."[8]

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