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The Dominance of American Culture

Although the Cold War divided the world into two poles, it strengthened American identity and its power internationally
01:00 AM Jan 06, 2024 IST | Shabir Ahmad
the dominance of american culture
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The contemporary general concept of Americanization means the introduction of American patterns, traditions, and lifestyle, and also the exertion of influence on individuals to adopt specifically American behaviours and standards. Americanization has been in use since US colonial times, but its ideological meaning has changed repeatedly. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, it was used to describe two aspects of the new nation. On the one hand, the united colonies needed to create a common culture and their own standards in law, weights and measurement, or currencies.

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On the other hand, there was also an internal ideological dynamic of new citizens carried forward. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909, said “We must Americanize newcomers in every way, in speech, in political ideas and principles, and in their way of looking at the relations between Church and State. We welcome the German or the Irishman who becomes an American. We have no use for the German or Irishman who remains such. You cannot dedicate yourself to America unless you become in every respect and with every purpose of your will thorough Americans.” Thus, the earlier concept focused on naturalization as Americanization. The 20th century took place rather under the other banner of Americanization: It was based on convincing the rest of the world of American values, ideas or features and trying to make others similar to Americans.

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This is visible in many aspect of US life such as in the economy, with the domination of the US in world markets and the introduction of the American way of production and organization of companies, or the expansion of the business activities of American-based multinational companies. In politics, Americanization appears as the promotion of the democratic system, especially the American model, and support for human rights.

In culture, this process consists in imposing American patterns of culture and lifestyle on other nations. The popularity of American normative popular culture, which grew out of mass culture, lies in its democratic character and receptiveness to new trends and other cultures This is seen as a necessity in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country like the U.S. As a result, it is also familiar to some extent to other societies and easily adaptable outside of its home. Although the Cold War divided the world into two poles, it strengthened American identity and its power internationally. The turning point in the history of Americanization occurred in the second half of the 20th century. This occurred when the U.S. as the primary source of the communication and technological revolution assumed for itself a privileged place in the global superpower race.

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The rapid popularization of TV and the incredible development of the mass aviation industry allowed time and space to be compressed. The liberalization of trade policy that took place starting with the creation of GATT (1947) eased the circulation of American media productions and other goods as well. American leadership was confirmed in the 1980s and the 1990s when the computer and then the internet and cyber revolution occurred. The initiator of this technological watershed came again from the United States, and was widespread all over the globe. Thus, entirely new tools of self-promotion were gained too. Apart from the technological explosion, a new impact in economy could be observed at this time. It was a time of synergy, joint Ventures, and cross-selling. In relation to the imperial power, as expressed by the dominance of American cinema, the first thing to note is the achievement and strong dominance of the production, distribution, and demand for American films.

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‘McDonaldization’, is an idea that is considered useful to describe many things ranging from religion, the university and museums. Americanization has for many years been among the most emotionally charged concepts. It is often blamed for the destructive influence on national culture. It is also equally often misinterpreted and conflated with the globalization process, which is in fact much older and broader than Americanization. This dominance has given rise to anti-Americanism too. In Europe, there is a growing concern about excess Americanization through Google, Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, and Uber, among many other American Internet-based corporations.

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The impact of Internet which has broken down and at the same time created barriers between cultures around the world. The Internet has broken down communication barriers between cultures in a way that could only be dreamed of in earlier generations. Now, almost any news service across the globe can be accessed on the Internet and with the various translation services available like Google Translate, be relatively understandable. In addition to the spread of American culture throughout the world, smaller countries are now able to cheaply export culture, news, entertainment, and even propaganda.

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With the evolution and transformation of the internet, access barriers were reduced and mode of communication improved. The Internet was no longer concerned with information exchange alone: it was a sophisticated multidisciplinary tool enabling individuals to create content, communicate with one another, and even escape reality. The rise of the Internet has sparked a debate about how online communication affects social relationships.

The Internet is perhaps the most visible aspect of globalization and in many ways its driving force. Without technology, globalization would probably not be a topic for discussion. In particular, communications technology, in which the Internet plays a major role, has revolutionized how people work, expanded the global knowledge base and provided a variety of ways of bringing people and cultures closer together.

The strong protections for freedom of speech and expression against federal, state, and local government censorship are rooted in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. These protections extend to the Internet and as a result very little government mandated technical filtering occurs in the United States.

Nevertheless, the Internet in the United States is highly regulated, supported by a complex set of legally binding and privately mediated mechanisms. While keeping in mind the role of Internet in propagating American Culture, we can raise a question as to whether there will be anything specifically called American in culture in the future? We find firstly that the dominance of US culture as the sole dominant culture is reducing globally with the rise of cultural traits from other rising powers.

Secondly, America is becoming more diverse, with an originally white population reducing substantially in response to growing Asian, Black, and Latino populations. The United States has traditionally been thought of as a melting pot, with immigrants contributing to but eventually assimilating with mainstream American culture. But what is important is the way that popular culture plays into the broader concept of soft power: the states’ abilities to “get other countries to want what it wants in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering it to do what they want,” as put forward by Joseph Nye.

The dominance of American culture across the globe is reducing, and its own cultural identity is changing, but this does not mean that American culture will completely disappear. There will be values, cultural attributes, behaviors, language and customs which will continue into the future which are distinctly American. American culture is defined by a vast variety of factors from practice to beliefs, which will sustain for the near future despite the rise of other cultural powers and forces.

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