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Cultural Imperialism, Essay Example

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To support or argue against cultural imperialism is difficult, if only because the nature of it continually changes perceptions regarding its impact.  For example, there may be opposition when a cultural practice, once confined to a specific ethnic group, is adopted by the majority, yet that adoption will change the practice itself, as well as change how all concerned view it.  In this sense, then, it could be said that mass media is merely facilitating an evolution of sorts.  Media is communication in a variety of forms, and that behaviors, belief systems, and cultural rituals are widely communicated, and then infused into the culture, may be a very good thing.  On one level, people are introduced to cultural practices never before known, which weakens fear and resistance to the unknown.  On another, there are simple advantages to learning and appreciating what is different; thanks to mass media, for instance, Northerners develop a real liking for country music.

At the same time, there tends to be an automatic mistrust from a particular culture when any practice associated with it becomes mainstream.   Mass media is, for one thing, indiscriminate; it takes and offers whatever comes its way, and the nature of cultural practices is inherently private to an extent.  As the practice evolves from the specific culture, so too does that culture attach meaning to it a larger audience cannot appreciate.  This may often translate to a kind of cultural exploitation.   Urban African Americans, for example, may be unhappy with whites taking on the music that expresses their perceived place in society, even as mass media is eager to bring it to the wider audience.  Added to this is an inevitable process of dilution.  No cultural practice spread by mass media to appeal to millions can remain intact, as created by the culture.   There is also the likely risk of this kind of cultural imperialism objectifying practices to such a degree, their meaning is completely misinterpreted.  Mass media may often do a constructive thing in introducing cultural aspects to society at large, but it is very much a double-edged sword, and those cultures may strongly resent the homogenization of what once belonged to them.

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