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Cultural Imperialism

June 18, 2009

If we are worry about the effect TV has on our own children, shouldn't we worry about how it influences children in other societies too?

If we are worry about the effect TV has on our own children, shouldn't we worry about how it influences children in other societies too?

Many sociologists have come to the conclusion that western media (TV, movies, books, magazines, CDs, radio, Internet presence, music, DVDs, etc.) have come to dominate the world market. This domination is referred to as a form of “cultural imperialism.” The key idea, which worries some sociologists, is that media is a product of culture—it communicates values, norms, and beliefs of the society that produces them. This last statement becomes important because some researchers hold that media is a form of socialization!

These sociologists hold that not only do these cultural artifacts communicate western beliefs, but they also teach them. Much like some social researchers object to violence in cartoons based upon the worry it will teach children to be violent, these sociologists object to media products from western culture “contaminating” other cultures by teaching western subterranean value systems (values that a society openly rejects but still practices), such as sexual promiscuity, rebellion, violence, materialism, atheism, individualism, or religiosity.

What do you think? Would you like to respond to this article? If so, please offer a comment to one of these topics:

1. Do you think people can learn values and norms from songs, movies or cartoons? Why or why not?

2. If people from other cultures are actually developing their understanding of western society based upon media, should media output be controlled in some way? If so, how?

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