Cultural imperialists tend to see globalisation as a one way processes, mainly the spread of American power and values to other parts of the world. The cultural imperialist perspective focuses on the negative effects which media globalisation has on local populations.
It is a Marxist theory, aligned with the neo-Marxist perspective of ownership and control and the cultural effects theory of audience effects. It contrasts with the postmodern perspective on the globalisation of the media.
Global media keeps capitalism going
It does in three main ways:
- By generating false needs, mainly through advertising – which encourage people to see relatively high levels of consumption as the norm.
- Through encouraging conspicuous consumption – the wide circulation of programmes about the wealthy mean people tend to to think the average level of consumption is higher than the real world norm.
- Through commodity fetishism – especially relevant in the age of new media: people increasingly tend to see their smartphones as extenstions of themselves
Media globalisation is Americanisation
Americanisation is a process where America imposes its cultural products on other nations and local cultures. There are several examples of this – Hollywood movies, various sitcoms, sporting events but also advertising.
Cultural imperialists see the effects of Americanisation as being negative. They argue it results in the erosion of local cultures and traditions, as, for example, children around the world increasingly choose American fast foods over locally produced and cooked foods.
Mcdonalidization is also part of cultural globalisation – as working practices become more rationalised, and more focussed on standardised ways of working to promote efficiency of production.
Finally, it can also be argued that Americanization has resulted in a backlash, as with the rise of Fundamentalism.
The political consequences of Americanisation
As with the economic and cultural aspects of globalisation, cultural imperialists also see the political consequences in negative terms.
The spread of data surveillance threatens democracy as governments increasingly use social media data to manipulate populations to vote as they want them to.
Finally, the sue of Smartphones has a ‘dumbing down’ effects, as people are constantly distracted by waves of trivial information.