Is The Internet Bring A New Era Of American Cultural Imperia

2720 words - 11 pages


The Internet has emerged as the most rapidity adopted communication medium in history. The Internet by design is de-centralized, inexpensive, uncensored, and accessible from anywhere in the globe. Bill Gates contends that the Internet is first step along the “Information Superhighway”, which will ultimately create a “global village” that will allow for a more symmetrically distribution of information. The United States, which invented most of the underlying technologies for the Internet, leads the rest of the world in embracing the Internet as measuring by users, the number of English based web-sites, and Internet Service Providers (ISP), but also producing the hardware and software that drives the Internet. Unlike previous technological revolutions in which the novel idea or technology is inherently neutral, the some of the core technologies behind the Internet are culturally biased. This fact combined with the United States’ commanding dominance in nearly all aspects of the Internet and the apparent lack of controllability of the content of Internet has fueled international fears of a new era of American cultural imperialism. According to Barber, this Western tidal wave of cultural biased information and products will create a bi-polar world (Jihad vs. McWorld). However, Barber concludes that unless Jihad’s supporters (e.g. religious organization) embraces the Internets and the new markets it creates, the Jihad’s long-term survivability is low (Barber, 156).
Schiller, Barber, and Hamelink maintain an antiquated view of cultural imperialism. They contend that in our current information society, information technology has remained in the hands the economic elite. They hold view the “core”, mainly composed of MNCs, as the entity that controls “uni-directional” information and technology flows to the “periphery nations” (i.e. Third World states). Schiller defines “cultural imperialism” in as “the spread of a culture of capitalism” in which a economically denominate culture will create ‘structurally imposed needs’(Tomlinson, 104). Tomlinson proposed that “these needs are not necessarily all the expression of subjectively experienced needs and desires, but may be need imposed on agents by the conditions in which they live.” (Tomlinson, 133) MNCs and other components of the “core” employ mass-media as the vehicle for corporate marketing. This marketing campaign will “create audiences whose loyalties are tied to brand named products and whose understanding of social reality is mediated through a scale of commodity satisfaction.“(Tomlinson, 38)
However, certain aspects of the debate such as the conglomeration of ownership, standardized production, and formatted content, do not apply in terms of new media informational flows, especially via the Internet. As Tomlinson skillfully pointed out the modern reality: media technologies and economies have become more intertwined, which have forced cultures to become more morphic. Thus, the one-way flow...

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