Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan

Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan

Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan

Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan

Synopsis

This study focuses on what has been the U.S.'s most controversial export in the 20th century - American culture. It examines the reception of American culture, goods and symbols, in other countries and analyses the concept of Americanization.

Excerpt

In 1995 tube stops in Central London featured a McDonald's advertising poster that addressed its audience with a slogan in German "Schmeckt wie daheim" (tastes just like at home) against a background of a Big Mac and fries. This ad was likely designed to enable multiple readings. The non-English slogan drew the attention of all viewers regardless of national origin to McDonald's global presence, and at the same time the slogan connected McDonald's with home for German tourists (or more specifically for South German tourists, since daheim is a word commonly used only in Southern Germany). Thus the ad made McDonald's--and by extension American products, since McDonald's has come to stand symbolically for America-- at once something ubiquitous and something "nativized." America and Americanization, the ad seemed to say, not only connect cultures outside of the United States to one another but also are part of local culture.

This volume focuses on what has been the United States' most controversial export in the twentieth century: American culture. Any discussion of American culture abroad immediately raises the specter of "Americanization," a term fraught with political baggage. As a result, scholars increasingly use Americanization as a descriptive rather than an analytical category. To be sure, even in the 1990s some have attempted to employ a definition of Americanization that equates it with economic modernization and political . . .

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