Explain what is meant by cultural imperialism.
by eusebio1 (student)
Explain what is meant by cultural imperialism Cultural imperialism, the practice of promoting the culture or language of one nation in another, has emerged in the 1960s along with other terms of radical criticism. It can take various forms, such as an attitude, a formal policy, military action, so long as it reinforces cultural hegemony. The term “cultural imperialism” is mainly shaped by the three postcolonial theorists Foucalt, Derrida and Said. Within their view, cultural imperialism can be seen as actions contribution to the reshaping of colonialism, often between former colonialist states and their inferior colonies. However, despite actuality of cultural imperialism, the model can be traced back to the Greek and Roman Empires. One major example of cultural imperialism was the “Scramble for Africa”, in which various European countries were involved in the acquisition of colonies in Africa. This stage of cultural imperialism ended during the 20th century when African and
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Asian colonies gained independence from direct political domination. However, the formal political independence is not necessarily followed by an economic, social or cultural independence. Most colonial powers still exerted a strong economic and cultural power on their former colonies, signified by the use of the same language, currency or political system. For example, even today many former colonies are financially dependent from their former colonial powers that provide financial aid. Cultural imperialism is said to be influencing local and even regional cultures in many parts of the world due to the pressure of globalization on that particular area. There are five main factors that support cultural imperialism to different extents: Firstly, language has – as mentioned in the introduction – a tremendous influence on cultural diversity and hence is a factor supporting cultural imperialism. Due to the influence of more distributed languages such as English, Spanish and Chinese it is expected that half of the world´s 6000 actively spoken languages will be extinct by 2100. As language is a main factor of culture, many different cultures are endangered of extinction, too. Secondly, tourism, especially the travel from developed countries to developing countries is a major factor that supports cultural imperialism. Tourism is a way of transferring customs to foreign places which may lose their specific cultural identity due to these foreign cultural influences. This principle can be seen on the Canary Islands, where the pattern of extinction of the local culture is closely connected to the pattern of the distribution of tourism. While La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma are islands that are less influenced by tourism and hence are able to preserve their local identity, the cultural identity of the touristic islands Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife is regarded as heavily endangered. Thirdly, global brands and TNCs produce a picture of Western consumer culture that may be transferred to non-influenced societies. This picture influences the way of living in other cultures and may change historical habits there. Due to the influence of global brands culture compliancy is increased and hence cultural diversity limited. Fourthly, media has a big influence on culture and hence is a factor that supports cultural imperialism. Around 20 to 30 large TNCs dominate the global entertainment and media industry. The majority of these companies are located in the Western countries and cause the distribution of a globalized culture that cuts out local and regional cultures. Examples for these organizations are Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Disney. The fifth and last main factor supporting cultural imperialism is democracy. Democracy is the most widely used form of political reign in the West and has spread rapidly in recent decades at the expense of communism and other forms of non-democratic rule. Although the spread of political liberty – which is closely connected to democracy – is generally seen as positive, it can be argued that due to this spread the diversity of political systems around the world has been diminished. Strong historical roots, for example monarchy is Africa tribes, are lost have been replaced by modern forms of governing. All of the above factors apply to the most common principle of culture imperialism, the influence of global Western culture on the cultural diversity of developing countries. However, a few examples of cultural imperialism the other way round can be noticed, too. Looking at the factor language, linguistic influences of Asian languages can be found in the English language. For example the words “Shampoo” and “Pyjamas” have an Indian background and are a consequence of the British colonialism of that region. Modern globalization has taken these words around the world. Awarded Score: 10/10 ©[Censored] 2013