Wednesday, May 29, 2013

cultural imperialism thesis

With reference to debates about media globalization, explain and evaluate the cultural imperialism thesis. Introduction With the development of new technology and society, it is quite common to see that globalization as an imprecise buzz term that used in different ways by different people and to mean different things. According to Ohmae (2000), nation states participate in certain economic activities under the global economy atmosphere have possibly cracked its own role as one of meaningful parts in the new world. In post 1970’s, globalization could be defined as neoliberal capitalism, which manifested in opening up of borders and markets, strengthen global economic connection and integration, and the last point is transnational capital mobility. However, in today’s life, it possibly be regarded as some issues and problems like economic, environmental, social and political which are no longer limit to the boundary of nation, and the reason why is that the world having become interdependent gradually. Morley (2006) states that, the globalized world as a consequence of modernity, new technologies have a vital influence on the situation. One of the most important points is that the developed and advanced new technologies could contribute to and increase the level of communication. As a result, media globalization grows rapidly as an essential part of globalization. According to Habermas (1962), as a “public sphere”, the role of media may be transfer of ideas from developed to developing world and impact insights of public audiences, besides, the media plays a critical role in these processes at both a domestic and international level. Since in the new world, modern communication technology and mass media like radio, TV, phones and Internet are global standard which means information may be distributed in worldwide in real time. And media globalization mainly reflected in distance, network and global brands. To be more specific, distance is no longer an obstacle to the transmission of information and ideas across the globe world. And then, using of network enhanced the fundamental cohesion of world as well as the connection of the world. Finally, few societies can escape pervasiveness of certain global brands. Nevertheless, there is a close relationship between media globalization and cultural imperialism. As Sparks (2000) proposed, no media can achieve true globalization, which means, media are controlled by the power and wealthy group, and English-speaking also to be considered inclusive. As Schiller (1991) states, cultural imperialism may have still bears a ‘marked American input’, and the world market keep up the primary typifications of the original American pattern. As a consequence, cultural imperialism is a form of cultural domination, which is called ‘soft power’. Therefore, this essay will critically discuss that cultural imperialism is a good way to understand media globalization and illustrate with relevant examples. By providing firstly the manifestation in different regions, for instance, west society and non-west society, and secondly, comparing with other imperialisms like economic and political. It is apparent that media imperialism possibly makes the most contributions and the best way to understand media globalization. One of the most contentious aspects of globalization is the global spread and ascendancy of the American culture. Among the major effects of globalization, on culture, the issue of development of a global culture has received a lot of interest. Most of the people with interest in this area have argued that this type of globalization is as a matter of fact Americanization. This is because the United States is the largest producer of culture goods internationally. According to Fiske (1989), just as goods and services from the United States have flooded international markets, United States culture has penetrated every part of the world. This has been brought about by the drastic development of communications like music, TV, fails as well as the internet. The western culture has been Americanized to a great extent. American culture has a huge influence on popular culture in many other regions around the world. This means that there are elements of the American popular culture in all other cultures around the world. American culture is manifested internationally through films, music TV shows, print media, fashion and entertainment. The popularity of American television programs in other western countries is evident. A former prime minister of Canada, Kim Campbell argued that, “images of America are so pervasive in this global village that it is almost as if instead of the world immigrating to America, America has emigrated to the world, allowing people to aspire to be Americans even in distant countries” (Piker, J 2011: 965). According to Bertho, Crawford & Fogarty (2008), for the Americans, the entertainment sector is one of the most significant sectors of economic activity. As a matter of fact, the entertainment sector in the country generates more income from international sales that any other sector besides aerospace industry. This is what has propelled the popular culture to other western nations. Hollywood, which is the film and movie industry in the United States, is the representative of world entertainment in other parts of the world. It dominates the global media markets. As a matter of fact, people in other countries away from the west do not know whether there exists any other entertainment industry in the west besides Hollywood. United States-based television programs are the major sources of entertainment in the rest of the world. Berghahn (2010) posits that there are different subsidiaries of American broadcasters outside the country that re-broadcast American television shows around the world. They include: CNBC Europe, HBO Asia and CNN international. These distributors deliver principally American programming on their television channels. As per a study by Radio Times, “Lost”,” the Simpsons” and “Desperate Housewives” are some of the most watched television shows internationally. Most cinemas in the west show American films and movies. These are the ones that seem to attract more audience compared to films from other western countries. Berghahn (2010) argues that a survey evaluating the highest-grossing films revealed that the top 20 films are from the United States. The Avatar is at the moment the most grossing film according to the survey. Most elements of the American film and movies have been borrowed in other western countries as a way of making money. This is because elements from the American popular culture are the only ones that seem to attract audience. According to Fiske (1989) watching most of films and movies produced in other parts of the west, feels like watching something that has borrowed from the American movie industry. Like Rome in the days of the Roman Empire, American becomes the center of mass communication of control and information that spread the world in modernity. According to Kroes (1999), as “American Century”, there is no denying that America has supposed a focus that one might be called imperial. A book written by Morley which named Mass Communication and American Empire, suggests that American has a long history that dominant media industry. Set Hollywood as an example, there are a large number of films produced in Hollywood. As Schiller proposed, these films as a form of consumer products are regarded as American way of life. O’Sullivan claims that the cultures of non-western societies and other developing nations are controlled and dominated by capitalist western media. In general, the communication ways and values of American have intruded upon and influenced the perspective of public audiences. One of the most obvious features of cultural imperialism is one-way flow, which means one-way flow from USA to rest of the world. As Morley (2006) proposed, one-way media flow mainly refers to Americanization, where American still dominates international trade in films and television and the pivotal regions of media industry, and news agenda are still controlled by a small number of Anglo-American agencies. For instance, “in Afghanistan the only footage that was available of the biggest military engagement the British army had been involved in since the Falklands, the taking of MusiQuala, was taken by military film units” (Curran and Seaton, 2010). In connection with this propaganda, only BBC can have capability to explain and report what actually happened. Berghahn (2010) posits that television has achieved a lot of Americanization especially those who watch Hollywood productions. The stars in the movie have made people to adore the characters from the films. From watching the films, it is common to see individuals aping the tough men in the casinos, the shapely women, and dreaming about rags-to-riches, grass-to-glory, or happily-ever-after, common tag lines in the Hollywood movies. The world adores Rock and Roll, Jazz, rap music, hip-hop, and country music, all of which are originally developed in America. According to Coluzzi (2012) currently most of the nations have come up with equivalents of United States awards in the movie industry such as the Oscar awards for films and Grammy’s awards for music. Many countries have also developed these parts based on the United States model, the Disney world. According to Fiske (1989) leading the concept of cultural imperialism is the television. When the television entered a country like Canada for the very first time, there were not many local programs that could be broadcast. As a result, most of the programs that went on air were American. Additionally, the country, and many others in the world was haunted by the belief that many good things came from the United States. America had also started airing television programs earlier than most of these countries. By the time television came to a country like Canada, the entertainment industry in the United States was flourishing with shows such as “Father Knows Best” were popular. The American shows and music have since them been brought into the homes in many other countries in the west. American TV shows, just like the movies are not only shown in the country. Crothers (2007) elucidates that popular television shows such as “Gossip Girl”, “One-Tree Hill” and “The O.C” are shows about individuals from the United States. They deal with typical American subjects like United States high school life, cotillion, and prom among others. However, they are not only for the American audience, as they are aired in many other western countries. As a result, teenagers in these countries are aware of these aspects and the ways of life of the Americans and start to incorporate some of these aspects to their own ways of life. Some of these shows are extremely popular in the rest of the world, resulting in a lot of imitation of the American way of life. According to Bayazitova & Bangura (2012) the dominance of the American movie industry in Europe and other parts of the world is becoming a subject of major concern. In the year 1987, United States films held about 56% of the film market in Europe. Less than ten years later, this market share increased to over 90%. For many countries in the west, American popular culture is not just another product. This is because, unlike other products that are marketed in these countries, the popular culture has the capacity to influence their own cultures. This has been happening a great deal. Curran and Seaton (2010) argues that the productions of popular musicians from the United States have been sold and distributed in other countries all over the world by non-American companies. Some of the companies that have done this in the past include Bertelsmann AG in Germany, Sony in Japan, Vivendi in France, and EMI Group in the United Kingdom. In addition, authors from the United States have been published by publishers from other western countries and distributed in those countries. Some media companies that have published such works in the past include Bertelsmann, and News Corporation in Australia. It is worth noting that international media groups are responsible for the Americanization of popular culture. Foreign companies earn revenue by trading in United States popular culture products. However, Hamelink (1990) suggests that cultural imperialism is not an entirely bad thing. America through the media has been spreading universal human rights and values to the rest of the world. To a number of authoritarian nations, the United States is argued by some scholars such as Coluzzi (2012) to spread ideas of democracy, freedom of expression, equality, and rights, ideas which should be, in some western opinions, be universal. Herbert (1991) argues that universality of some of these values is possible as human nature is the same from culture to culture, and most of the values are shared by cultures. Nevertheless, most of the cultures in the world do not give the same value to women and children as to men. The majority of the people in the world have continued to exist without actual participatory democracy. As such, the American ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality, available in the world through the use of the media can promote freedom to women, children, as well as to marginalized and minority communities in all cultures. Kristol (1997) suggests that imperialism is an unintentional consequence of market expansion instead of a conscious objective: “one of these days, the American people are going to awaken to the fact that we have become an imperial nation.” However, the author later suggests that it is not something accidental, but that as a matter of fact majority of the countries have facilitated and welcomed the cultural values of America, along with its products and ways of life. This is the argument that “it happened because the world wanted it to happen.” His argument is that the ‘missionaries’ from America reside in Hollywood, as opposed to the Old European imperialism that was founded on bureaucratic colonial regimes as well as exploitation of resource from the colonized nations. In American Cultural Imperialism: No Bad Thing, Christopher Dunkley, argues that “America provides some of the best available anywhere in the world.” Among the main reasons that the series in the United States are the most successful in internationally is that “thanks to its immigration policies, the US has a population with a mixture of Anglo Saxons, Scandinavians, Asians and so on that provides American broadcasters with a domestic audience which is, to all intents and purposes, international. Please the American audience and you can guarantee you will please the world” (para 12). Some theorists in globalization views, rather than cultural imperialism, the transfer of ideas and products from across cultural and national boundaries in a manner that generate real changes in cultures like that of the US. MacQuail (1994) suggest that that not only is the US impacting on other cultures, but a number of other cultures have impacted a lot on the US culture. “While one-way flow may be evident in terms of information flows on an information theory quantitative estimate, the reality is that as media technology and economies become more intertwined, this seemingly one-way flow reverses itself into a two-way flow in which what sells abroad influences what Americans see at home” (para 6). From this point of view, it is possible to speak about interpenetration of cultures rather than in the invading of an American culture into the cultures of other countries. Critics of cultural imperialism as a good thing have suggested that the American culture is a threat to other cultures. Campbell, Jude & McKay (2004) argue that the existence of different cultures makes the world a diverse and rich place. Each person from any part of the world has a unique culture and the right to express that culture. Cultural imperialism poses a threat of a common culture throughout the world. This has the risk of extinction of cultures and it would without doubt represent a major loss. According to Crothers (2007) the American culture, in the age of globalization has been intruding majority of other cultures, threatening their existence. Local heroes are being replaced by Spider-man, Superman, and Batman; local fruit drinks are being replaced by Pepsi and Coke; and Dia de los Muertos is being replaced by “trick or treat.” Possibly more dangerous, to contend with American cultural importations, local products start to emulate American products. All of the exportations of information and goods from the US to the other parts of the world amounts to the exportations of the American culture. Currently, the success in spreading of the American culture is via all communication media: 90 percent of the information which is available in the new media (the Internet) is in English; CNN is viewed in more than 120 nations; while Stephen King is the best seller internationally. Various cultures and languages have been affected by the global forces, more than they have been able to affect the global forces. As the world has gone through various social and economic changes in the recent past, the use of language has also gone through considerable changes. Global English emerged out of the need to use a common language in business and exchange of ideas. Globalization could not be achieved without the use of a common language. The global English has become a resource for modernization and globalization as well as a source of satisfaction. Van Elteren (1996) posits that there has been a development in an Internet language which has in turn become a creative basis for the development of a unique youth culture and identity based on the American culture. The Internet uses a somewhat global language. Anderson & Ross (1998) suggest that the emergence of the global English as a language of politics and trade has been a strong force behind the transmission of American culture. While the factors which have led to the emergence of global English are different from cultural imperialism, it is hard to separate the two. This is because culture and language cannot be separated: “everyone from the French to the Indonesians worries that where English goes, America will follow” (Van Elteren, M. 1996: 87). Additionally, it has always been a goal of America to haves a global English: “It is in the economic and political interests of the United States to ensure that, if the world is moving to a common language, it be English; that if the world is becoming linked by television, radio and music, the programming be American; and that, if common values are being developed, they be values with which Americans are comfortable” (Van Elteren, M. 1996: 87). This is a developing reality. According to Bayazitova & Bangura (2012) it is well known that the United States is the leading nation in the exportation of information. The main issue is that the country trades in its media and information products less expensively that it become hard for others to compete. The producers in the country budget to cover the costs within the domestic market and as a result are able to trade at unbeatable prices globally. This makes it possible to buy a blockbuster Hollywood movie produced in American at a cheaper price than one produced in any other country. Conclusion Due to globalization, cultures are becoming influenced by others to a great extent. This means that there is no culture that is uniquely homogenous. The discussion on whether or not the culture is completely Americanized is not factual. Although there is a considerable influence of the American culture on other cultures around the world, it is baseless to argue that those cultures are thoroughly Americanized. The culture of the United States is itself influenced by various sub-cultures from the region. This means that America has no unique culture as to be able to thoroughly Americanize the cultures of the rest of the world. The western culture has always been influenced by various other cultures from the west, as well and other parts of the world. This means that the culture of the America is multicultural in nature. 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