The their own culture, while at the

The subject of cultural imperialism within the context of
globalization has attracted many ideas presented by scholars over the
years.  Whereas there are those who argue
that globalization is of necessity cultural imperialism in that it allows
stronger and more advanced nations to impose their will and culture on others,
there are those who see globalization as influencing some cultures that are the
recipients of cultural products from others (Wang, 2008). At the same time,
there are other scholars that argue that globalization allows for cultural
hybridization, where the people of some cultures have taken some ideas and
cultural practices from some cultures that are influential and have added them
on to their existing cultures (Rahman, 2014). 
In short, the debate that takes place is whether globalization should be
seen as cultural imperialism which involves a dominant culture imposing its
values on other cultures, whether it should be seen as exposing people of different
cultures from seeing a certain culture and lifestyle as attractive and being
influenced to the extent that these different cultures lose their own culture,
or whether globalization allows people in other cultures to actively embrace
elements of a dominant culture and adapt and add elements of that dominant
culture on their culture. The debate is therefore between the intentional
domination by Western culture of other cultures of the world, or the unwitting
acceptance of the dominant western culture by other cultures to the detriment
of their own cultures, or whether other cultures use agency in adapting
elements from the dominant culture that they see as attractive and adding them
on to their own culture, while at the same time maintaining their original
culture.  This paper argues that there
might be elements of all of these theories as globalization has an impact on
other cultures.

            What is
globalization? According to James and Steger (2014), Arendt, writing in 1958
about The Human Condition, was one of the first to make reference to the concept
that became known as globalization.  In
her book, she spoke about “the process of intensifying social relations that
were busily stitching together humanity as an interconnected, yet uneven,
entity” (James & Steger, 2014, p. 421). 
Basically, what these authors point out, is that Arendt saw the whole
human population as making up a social whole or a global society “whose members
at the most distant points of the globe need less time to meet than the members
of a nation a generation ago” (Arendt, 1958, p. 257, quoted in James &
Steger, 2014, p. 422).  Globalization
also grew in terms of the political, in the spread of the ideologies, including
neoliberalism; in terms of the imagery embedded in global symbols; in the
social fields, through four interrelated communities of practice, namely,
academics, journalists, publishers/editors, and librarians; and the concept of
‘modernity’ (James & Steger, 2014). Speaking about neoliberalism and
commenting on the work of David Harvey. A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Thompson
(2005) points out that this ideology shows the greater intensification of
capital, the elevation of capitalism from a mode of production to an ethic, and
one that is supported by politics and cultural logic (p. 23). In short,
globalization came to infiltrate all aspects of life, even in terms of language
and culture, and its relation to what is taking place materially in the world
(James & Steger, 2014).

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            This raises
the issue of how globalization is seen in terms of its impact on culture, and
according to Kraidy (2002), “The received view about the globalization of
culture is one where the entire world has been molded in the image of Western,
mainly American, culture” (p. 1).  The
responsibility for the globalization of culture is often said to belong to
international media, with television and the Internet giving rise to dramatic
changes in cultures. It is in this context that the concept of cultural
imperialism comes up. Media are seen as cultural industries and when cultural
imperialism comes up, the argument that is made is that “through capital,
infrastructure and political control” media have dominated global space
(Kraidy, 2002, p. 1).  Basically, it is
noted that large Western corporations like Disney and McDonald’s, and movies
that have been promoted by major Hollywood companies, have been promoted into
countries around the world and have become popular.  The images and messages that are part of this
communication industry make a tremendous impact on the local cultures in which
they are introduced.  The result of this
is that local peoples start thinking that things that are Western are glamorous
and desirable, and in many instances discard their own cultural practices or
decrease their use of these practices.  In
fact, as Kraidy (2002) points out, the amount and the quality of the media that
were finding its way into the developing nations encouraged the developing
nations to be strongly influenced by the media. Globalization has also been
touted as seeing the power flow from nation states to corporations, with media
corporations having tremendous power (Kraidy, 2002).

            Speaking
about how globalization affects culture through cultural imperialism, Wang
(2008) explains that there is an undermining of national cultures.  As this author points out, there is one theory
that holds that “the flow of media from the rich states to the poorer countries
may aggravate the already existing power gap between them, or that imported
media cultures may threaten the native culture of the receiving country” (Wang,
2008, p. 203).  This could happen in the
case where there is incoming media, for example, Hollywood films, and where the
local people are influenced by the values that the films portray.  There are also the relationships and the way
of life which may appear very attractive from some cultures.   There is also the reasoning that globalization
leads to the linking of places and social relations, so that things that happen
locally are influenced by events that take place at great distances away (Wang,
2008, p. 204).  Therefore, those who
believe that globalization affects culture through cultural imperialism often
argue that “global communications . . . (is) a vehicle which aims at controlling,
invading or undermining other cultures” (Wang, 2008, p. 205). As Narine (2006)
explains, cultural imperialism is seen as something negative, where there is a
deliberate imposing of culture by one nation on another nation without the
informed consent of the one nation (p. 25). 
In other words, one nation forcibly imposes its culture on another, and
this can be achieved because of the power of capital and the emphasis on the
neoliberal ideology, which underlies capitalism (Narine, 2006). In digging
deeper into this argument, it can be said that cultural imperialism is
intentional, with western nations wanting to trade or carry out business
operations within these countries.  What
better way to do this than to get the local people aspiring to the same values
and lifestyle as the western nations with globalization.  Therefore, from this perspective,
globalization can be seen as promoting cultural imperialism, which is perceived
as a negative impact on local peoples, without their consent, and therefore
destructive of local cultures.

            But as Wang
(2008) explains, while there are those that believe that globalization is
cultural imperialism in that it brings in Western culture through media and is
“predatory”, there are also those that hold that cultural imperialism “is an
expression of the free market” and they see “the imbalance of flow as a
characteristic of the wider media market, which has benefit for all” (p.

205).  In other words, while some see
cultural imperialism as predatory and intentional, others see it merely as an
expression of the capitalist system, which is seen as good for all.

            But Wang
(2008) also identifies what he refers to as “internationalization” or the
formation of a global village, with members of this global village interacting.

“Some theorists support the idea that a global village will encourage universal
citizenship and allow national cultures to interact” (p. 203).  Although there is some interaction between
the cultures, this gives the people in the local cultures more agency, for
there is an interaction, which could be initiated on either side.

            Rahman
(2014) looks at globalization but from a slightly different perspective.  He sees the transformation of local and
traditional societies by the introduction of globalization, as people in the
local society embrace some of the cultural elements of globalization as a
global culture emerges.  This author
points to “Western cultural symbols such as Coca-Cola, blue jeans, rock music
and McDonald’s Gold Arches” spread over the developing countries, with “such
cultural merging … represent(ing) a form of neo-imperialism that will destroy
cultural variety” (Rahman, 2014, p. 2).  This author seems to be support what Wang
(2008) says about the internationalization, where there is a linking of the
local culture with the western culture. 
But Rahman (2014) notes that this interaction of the two cultures is
cultural globalization, which “will destroy cultural variety’ and in this
sense, cultural globalization possesses a threat to nation states” (Rahman,
2014, p. 2).   But Wang (2008) saw
internationalization as being less harmful than cultural imperialism, because
local people had a choice and accepted to make the incoming western culture
part of their practice.  Using Bangladesh
as an example, Rahman (2014) shows that there have been changes taking place in
this country, for “fast food, T-shirt, Jeans, (and) soft drinks have been now
the integral part of (the) young generation” with cultural trends in Bangladesh
changing and becoming more westernized (p. 3). 
But there were positive effects of this cultural transformation, which
has led to some positive effects, such as standards of living, but there have
been negative impacts.  The negative impacts
that have been identified by Rahman (2014) are “cultural violence, armed
reactions to cultural imperialism and increasing dominance of a consumer and
self-oriented society, leading to erosion of spiritual and community oriented
values worldwide” (p. 3).  Therefore,
cultural imperialism has been shown as having a negative impact on local
cultures, although there have been some positive elements that have led to
improvement in quality of life for some.

            However,
while some insist on speaking about cultural imperialism as an aspect of
globalization, there are others who see globalization as having a transcultural
flow (Noh, 2007).  What this means is
that while there are cultural impacts of media and other global forces flowing
from the western nations to the developing countries, that this flow is not
one-sided, but flows between the nations. 
“Contemporary trans-cultural flow negates the dominant-subordinate
binary scheme suggested by early cultural imperialism. Indeed, it is a
complicated, ambiguous, and multilateral process” (Noh, 2007, p. 1).   In other words, what has taken place, is
that cultural influences flow between cultures, with some individuals in the
developing world taking agency and giving rise to their culture reaching into
the western world as cultural influences of the western world find their way
into local cultures.  As Noh (2007)
points out, cultural hybridity emphasizes human agency, thereby showing the
relationship between dominance on the part of cultural imperialism and
pluralism on the cultural hybridity (p. 3). 
Cultural hybridity, made relevant by feminism, can be seen as an
“offspring” of cultural imperialism and an audience that challenged cultural
imperialism.  People not willing to
accept the domination of their culture by western nations, either in a
predatory fashion, or in a quiet enticement, have made the effort to protect
their culture, while at the same time taking to elements of the western culture
that can be adapted to the improvement of their own local culture.

            Therefore,
the conclusion that can be drawn is that while cultural domination of the most
predatory form may not be as easy to find today as in the past, there could be
cultural imperialism that could take place today and which involves local
culture being caught up in the newest trends and latest popular fads. For
these, while their culture is being transformed by western culture, they may be
oblivious to the changes taking place. 
However, in some settings, cultural imperialism has given way to
cultural hybridity, where people are taking control of how much change can be
introduced into their culture and how that change will be manifested.  It can be shown that cultural hybridity shows
agency on the part of the local people.