Teaching Social Studies in Virtual Space/Cultural Anthropology/Cultural Imperialism/g1

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Group 1: Defintion[edit | edit source]

What is cultural imperialism? Define and give an example.[edit | edit source]

Cultural imperialism is defined as the imposition of a foreign viewpoint or civilization on a person. [1] However, cultural imperialism takes on several categorical forms. For example, cultural imperialism theory states that Western nations dominate the media around the world which in return has a powerful effect on Third World Cultures by imposing on them Western views and therefore destroying their native cultures.[2] A historical example of aggressive cultural imperialism occurred during the French and Indian War when Lord Jeffrey Amherst had smallpox infected blankets distributed to the Ottawa Indians in an attempt to "extirpate or remove that vermine." [3]


To do:
The smallpox infected blankets are not a example of cultural imperialism. The Indians where not forced or motivated to alter any cultural trait, nor even where aware of the fact, it was an act of indiscriminate biological warfare against a civilian population, demonstrating technological supremacy and by today's standards amoral behavior.

What is cultural diffusion? Define and give an example.[edit | edit source]

Cultural diffusion refers to the spread of culture and the means for its occurrence. Cultural traits of one region spread to other communities by factors including communication, trade, and migration. This diffusion can be hierarchical or expansionist. The spread of American enterprises, such as McDonalds, is an example of cultural diffusion. Restaurants that feature the cuisines of other cultures (e.g. sushi) in the United States are an example of cultural diffusion as well. There are social barriers to cultural diffusion which include language, religion, race, and physical barriers. To some observers, cultural diffusion is viewed as an intrusion, whereas others are comfortable with the spread of cultural traits [4].

What is cultural hegemony? Define and give an example.[edit | edit source]

The term cultural hegemony was first coined by Antonio Gramsci, a leading Italian Marxist. He actually challenged the traditional Marxist theory with the role of force and coercion of the ruling class as one-sided. [5] Gramsci went further to approach the role that the dominated class played in seemingly willing to submit, through manipulation and ideological control, to the cultural system put forward by the ruling class. [6] According to Gramsci, hegemony is only effective when paired with a domination that is both physical and psychological. Some powerful forms of cultural hegemony are religion and patriarchy. [7]

How do cultural imperialism and cultural diffusion interact? Explain why this might happen.[edit | edit source]

Cultural imperialism and cultural diffusion interact when diffusion of culture is done with intention to dominate the receiving culture and intensity. This may happen when one culture wishes to dominate another for economic, religious, and nationalistic reasons.

References[edit | edit source]