Media Imperialism & Cultural Imperialism

Media Imperialism & Cultural Imperialism

HideShow resource information



- the impositiom of western culture on developing countries e.g. through TNC's


- new form of imperialism in which media corporations dominate global media ouput, contributing to cultural imperialism

1 of 11

The Theory of Cultural Imperialism

- the global economic system is dominated by transnational companies that are based in the rich, capitalist countries

- control the production/distribution of goods

- estimated that the richest 200 capitalist corporations control half of the worlds economic activity

- TNC's also transmit western values/attributes, changing their culture

- process referred to as 'Coca-cola-isation' or 'McDonaldisation'

  • e.g. Coca cola & McDonalds introduced in developing countries (Mcdonalds found amoung pyramids in eygpt), compete with local food producers, changing their culture and the way they eat.

AS A RESULT: local cultures are battered into submission, swamped with western culture and will eventually disintegrate

2 of 11

Media Imperialism Theory

- argues that mass media corporations play a major role in cultural imperialism

- not only are they the 'richest/most powerful' of these western organisations, they are also the dominant force in the distribution of information/advertising/ideas

- transmit western values/attributes all over the developed world

9 of the 10 top media companies are based in the USA

(MARXISTS would see this as capitalist corporations controlling the content/distribution of knowledge & ideas)

3 of 11

  • Some sociologists regard this process of CULTURAL DOMINANCE as purposeful & intentional - PLURALISTS


  • Others would see it as an inevitable consequence of capitalists corporations seeking new markets & higher profits - MARXISTS

In either case, MASS MEDIA remains the driving force in the process of 'Cultural Imperialism

4 of 11


Many researchers now argue that these theories either go too far or no are longer aplicable:

    • different cultures respond/interpret media in different ways, does not mean they will be influenced by it- may still maintain local thoughts/values
    • E.g. Dutch viewers enjoyed US Soap Opera 'Dallas' but rejected the programmes celebration of American Capitalism
    • E.g. when rights to programmes such as 'Big Brother' & 'Who wants to be a millionaire' are sold to TV companies across the globe, rather than sticking to the western version, local versions are made, reflecting local cultures/views
5 of 11

    • steady increase in local broadcasting specifically aimed at individual nations/regions culture
    • growing number of independent media production centres outside USA & Europe
    • E.g. TV Globo in Brazil produces many of its own programmes & is dominant force in Brazillian TV
    • in many countries, local progs. are replacing imports, more attractive - gel with local culture E.g. in 7 of 9 Asian countries, more hours of local progs. were broadcasted

This suggests local cultures are not being overwhelmed by Western Media products, still have their own independence

6 of 11

    • flow of programmes can be reversed - local progs. from developing countries are exported to western societies
    • minority ethnic groups produce their own media products reflecting their culture of origin
    • E.g. in USA, Spanish speaking Latino's produce large quantities of recorded music, listen to own radio stations & watch own TV progs. specifically designed for their cultural requirements
    • Therefore it is not always 'Americanisation' that is occuring, people often remain tied to their culture regardless of huge media corporations
7 of 11

TOMLINSON  reinforces this point of 'Minority Ethnic Media':

- rejects the idea of cultural/media imperialism

- instead looks at 'CULTURAL FLOWS'

- he see's that not everything from Western culture sticks, people often keep to their own beliefs

- See's 'AUDIENCE RESPONSE' as having a larger impact - everyone will respond to the media differently, some being more influenced than other (everyone's individual)

8 of 11


By 1990's, theories of media/cultural imperialism were replaced with the term 'GLOBALISATION':

Main views of Globalisation & the media:

    • changes peoples perception of reality
    • compresses world - world is 'shrinking'
    • compresses time - events in one part of the world can be seen miles away as they happen
    • this new reality called 'TIME-SPACE COMPRESSION'
    • mass media plays important role - E.g. by broadcasting live transmissions of 911 as it happened


9 of 11

    • global media corporations have not destroyed local cultures - the situation is complex/multi-layered with global/regional/national/local markets & products
    •  from this point of view, western media corporations do not dominate global markets
    • nor are the products they broadcast necessarily of Western content
    • often they are 'HYPBRID CULTURAL PRODUCTS' combining aspects of several cultures (SPARKS 2007)
10 of 11

    • some globalisation theorists argue globalisation of the media has reduced the power of nation-states to control what their people see/hear
    • transnational media corporations override nation state power
    • E.g. satelite broadcast systems & the internet bypass national boundaries

HOWEVER, some reject the view that the power of nation-states to controll media output has been reduced

    • Nation-states are not helpless - still have some control E.g. have some regualtion on satelite broadcasting, seen in negotiations netween Murdoch and China - Murdoch's Star TV satelite was designed to broadcast to China, in order to do so, had to abide by Chinese law & adapt its programme to fit requirements
    • Another example: attempts to establish ******** pornographic services for the UK have been prevented by British Law
11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Mass Media resources »