Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Cultural Imperialism. Tool for the Dissolution of the Belongingness Feeling

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Cultural Imperialism. Tool for the Dissolution of the Belongingness Feeling

Article excerpt


Cultural imperialism is a phenomenon that cannot be neglected, whether one embraces its massive effects or not. It is a variable present in the everyday actions and behavior and it constantly changes the life's equation. Many researches have been conducted on this topic trying to capture its essence and to define a specific pattern that might be found in the countries where cultural imperialism flourishes.

Curiosity is the main factor that has driven the present study into finding out how the situation takes shape in Romania. The hypothesis revolves around the idea that the feeling of belongingness of the Romanian youth is being dismantled by the cultural imperialism. The young individuals are the focus within this examination. The more mature generations already have a formed set of values and the prob- ability of changing them is much smaller. The research starts from the premise that the national feeling is something rather foreign for the younger generations and that the main role in this rupture is attributed to mass media. Moreover, the main power that sets the trends seems to be the United States (US).

Given the amplitude of globalization, it is utterly necessary to monitor the development of younger generations and see how deep is the gap between these and the more mature ones, especially when it comes to the identification with the national element. Many cultures, not only the Romanian one, risk being "swallowed" by these global homogenous trends and lose their originality, together with their "followers".

The empirical frame of the research consists of two phases. The first one includes a focus group, an experiment and a small survey, which serve as a pre-test for the methodological tools. The second one includes a set of semi-structured interviews with individuals on different age categories, varying from 16 to 55 years old.

Cultural Imperialism

Before going deeper into the study, one must grasp the real meaning of this world-wide spread concept and unveil its many facets. What is cultural imperial- ism at a large scale? What concepts lie at its foundations? One of the authors that have dedicated a complete and detailed work to this subject, simply called Cultural Imperialism, is John Tomlinson. He marks the beginning of this phenomenon somewhere around the 60's, stating that "the economic implications are the real ones at stake" (Tomlinson, 1991, 3). Furthermore, he claims that the cultural factors are crucial in the political and economic world dominance. These are rather strong affirmations with which he starts his book, but it also gives a good sense of the true and enormous nature this form of imperialism has. In other words, cultural imperialism can be defined as "the conscious and organized effort made by Western, particularly US communication conglomerates to maintain commercial, political and mili- tary superiority" (Jin, 2007, 756).

Cultural imperialism, known as media imperialism as well and originating from the hegemonic theory of media effects, has received a great attention mainly due to the reaction of the Frankfurt School on the way mass media create deception or "mass-deception" (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1972 in Neyazi, 2010, 907). At the same time, the idea of American domination is widely expressed. Herman and McChesney claim that the American culture is transmitted through mass media, particularly in the developing countries, the result being a cultural homogenization and a spread of consumerism ideas (Herman and McChesney, 1997 in Neyazi, 2010, 907). In 2007, Thussu has stressed that the North and the United States at its core continue to dominate the international media (Thussu, 2007 in Neyazi, 2010, 907). In the same respect, Herbert Schiller considers US and few European nations as a powerful communication industry that has forced global commercialization and Western imperialism (Schiller, 1976 in Jin, 2007, 754). Following the same idea, many authors claim that local and traditional culture in many countries is overwhelmed by slick media products (film, television, and news), especially from US (Tunstall, 1977 or Guback, 1984 in Jin, 2007, 754). …

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