What is cultural imperialism?


Cultural imperialism is the practice of a more powerful culture being promoted over a lesser culture, or one that is seen as inferior. Cultural imperialism can be either obvious actions or more subtle attitudes. Cultural imperialism is closely linked to colonialism, where a powerful culture steps into a new area and diminishes the power and influence of a less powerful one.

Cultural imperialism is a term that was first coined in the 1960s, often credited to media critic Herbert Schiller. Formally, cultural imperialism is the establishment of a system of power that favors a more powerful group over a less powerful one, with an emphasis on eradicating the culture of the lower group. Many scholars agree that the unstated goal of cultural imperialism is cultural hegemony and global domination.

The term is used in conjunction with imperialism and colonialism. In much the same way that empires entered the land of natives and stole it for their own purposes, cultural imperialism involves entering the lands of a different group and attempting to diminish (and eventually eradicate) their culture. The term is most often used in discussions of postcolonialism and is used with a goal of rejecting the imperial culture.

Cultural imperialism is seen as the opposite of cultural diversity and is hotly debated because there is no definitive answer to the problem of cultural relativism. While it is difficult to defend cultural imperialism, it is equally difficult to determine if one culture is truly inferior or superior to another.

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