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Theorizing Cultural Development vis-à-vis Cultural Imperialism Theory: Lessons from Nigeria
Unformatted Document Text:  Theorizing Cultural Development vis-à-vis Cultural Imperialism Theory: Lessons from Nigeria Critical theorists, according to White (2001), have suggested various phrases in reference to notions of cultural imperialism. An examination of the international communication literature revealed several different terms such as "media imperialism" (Boyd-Barrett, 1977); "structural imperialism" (Galtung, 1979); "cultural synchronization" (Hamelink, 1983); "cultural dependency and domination" (Link, 1984; Mohammadi, 1995); "electronic colonialism" (McPhail, 1987); "communication imperialism" (Sui-Nam Lee, 1988); "ideological imperialism", and "economic imperialism"(Mattleart, 1994) - all relating to the same basic notion of cultural imperialism. Different media scholars who have at one time or the other written on the subject of cultural imperialism attribute its beginnings to different sources as well (All references cited in this paragraph are from White, 2001). The theory of cultural imperialism was developed in the 1970s to explain the media situation as it existed at that time. The nature of media (i.e., print, radio and television), at that time, promoted a one-way, top-down transmission system from dominant country to dominated country that theoretically gave rise to a passive audience and a powerful media (Sengupta and Frith, 1997 cited in White, 2001). This situation created imbalance in the global news flow scene and cries of media/cultural imperialism/marginalization. These cries, inevitably, led to calls for a New World Information and Communication Order. Cultural imperialism is therefore defined as “the process whereby the ownership, structure, distribution, or content of the media in any country are singly or together subject to substantial external pressures from the media interests of any other country or countries, without proportionate reciprocation of influence by the country so affected” (Boyd-Barrett, 1977, p. 117). Media/cultural imperialism could also be described as the subtle manipulation of the mass media of underdeveloped or developing countries by the developed western capitalist nations of Europe and North American, using their advanced and well-developed mass media to control the behaviour, lifestyles, morals, mores, arts, and values of the undeveloped or developing nations through the production and massive 12 | P a g e

Authors: Ekeanyanwu, Nnamdi.
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Theorizing Cultural Development vis-à-vis Cultural Imperialism Theory: Lessons from Nigeria
Critical theorists, according to White (2001), have suggested various phrases in reference to notions 
of  cultural   imperialism.  An  examination  of  the  international   communication   literature     revealed 
several different terms such as "media imperialism" (Boyd-Barrett, 1977); "structural imperialism" 
(Galtung,   1979);   "cultural   synchronization"   (Hamelink,   1983);   "cultural   dependency   and 
domination"   (Link,   1984;   Mohammadi,   1995);   "electronic   colonialism"   (McPhail,   1987); 
"communication   imperialism"   (Sui-Nam   Lee,   1988);   "ideological   imperialism",   and   "economic 
imperialism"(Mattleart,   1994)   -   all   relating   to   the   same   basic   notion   of   cultural   imperialism. 
Different   media   scholars   who   have   at   one   time   or   the   other   written   on   the   subject   of   cultural 
imperialism attribute its beginnings to different sources as well (All references cited in this paragraph 
are from White, 2001). 
The theory of cultural imperialism was developed in the 1970s to explain the media situation 
as it existed at that time. The nature of media (i.e., print, radio and television), at that time, promoted 
a   one-way,   top-down   transmission   system   from   dominant   country   to   dominated   country   that 
theoretically gave rise to a passive audience and a powerful media (Sengupta and Frith, 1997 cited in 
White,   2001).   This   situation   created   imbalance   in   the   global   news   flow   scene   and   cries   of 
media/cultural imperialism/marginalization. These cries, inevitably, led to calls for a New World 
Information and Communication Order. 
Cultural imperialism is therefore defined as “the process whereby the ownership, structure, 
distribution, or content of the media in any country are singly or together subject to substantial 
external pressures from the media interests of any other country or countries, without proportionate 
reciprocation of influence by the country so affected” (Boyd-Barrett, 1977, p. 117). Media/cultural 
imperialism could also be described as the subtle manipulation of the mass media of underdeveloped 
or developing countries by the developed western capitalist nations of Europe and North American, 
using their advanced and well-developed mass media to control the behaviour, lifestyles, morals, 
mores, arts, and values of the undeveloped or developing nations through the production and massive 
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