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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 White (2001:4) further notes that cultural imperialism theory also presumes a centralized approach to the development, diffusion and distribution of media products. “The thinking here is that all media products originate from only center nations that have devious ulterior motives of deliberately wanting to dominate the media of periphery nations. This belief is based partly on the view that no periphery country will ever be able to produce media products of its own” (White, 2001:4). How wrong such a view! THE MAJOR LIMITATIONS OF CULTURAL IMPERIALISM THEORY Many limitations have been identified by scholars who are opposed to the major arguments of the cultural imperialism theory. Their views (as noted in Ekeanyanwu, op.cit.) are summarized below: 1. The advocates of cultural imperialism led by Herbert Schiller developed their arguments in the 1960s and 70s when United States economic dominance in the global system seemed secure and unchallengeable. This situation has since changed in the 21 st century with the emergence of other economic and political superpowers like China, Japan etc. Therefore, the unipolar power structure which cultural imperialism presumes is no longer in existence in the 21 st century power relations. We now talk of multipolar power structure and relations. Unipolarism is the existence of a single super power in world politics and relations while multipolarism is the existence of multiple super powers in global politics and international relations. 2. The theory lacks explanatory power and so, needs to be advanced beyond the level of pure description (Ogan, 1988 cited in White, 2001). Beyond this, the theory is also found to be lacking in predictive powers. 3. The economic component of media imperialism may be expressed in statistics, but the cultural component is much more difficult to measure (Ogan, 1988 cited in White, 2001). This calls to question the various empirical supports this theory claims to have garnered over time. 14 | P a g e

Authors: Ekeanyanwu, Nnamdi.
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Theorizing Cultural Development vis-à-vis Cultural Imperialism Theory: Lessons from Nigeria
White (2001:4) further notes that cultural imperialism theory also presumes a centralized 
approach to the development, diffusion and distribution of media products. “The thinking here is that 
all   media   products   originate   from   only   center   nations   that   have   devious   ulterior   motives   of 
deliberately wanting to dominate the media of periphery nations. This belief is based partly on the 
view that no periphery country will ever be able to produce media products of its own” (White, 
2001:4). How wrong such a view!
THE MAJOR LIMITATIONS OF CULTURAL IMPERIALISM THEORY 
Many limitations have been identified by scholars who are opposed to the major arguments of the 
cultural imperialism theory. Their views (as noted in Ekeanyanwu, op.cit.) are summarized below:
1. The advocates of cultural imperialism led by Herbert Schiller developed their arguments in 
the 1960s and 70s when United States economic dominance in the global system seemed 
secure and unchallengeable. This situation has since changed in the 21
st
  century with the 
emergence of other economic and political superpowers like China, Japan etc. Therefore, the 
unipolar power structure which cultural imperialism presumes is no longer in existence in the 
21
st
  century   power   relations.   We   now   talk   of   multipolar   power   structure   and   relations. 
Unipolarism is the existence of a single super power in world politics and relations while 
multipolarism is the existence of multiple super powers in global politics and international 
relations.
2. The theory lacks explanatory power and so, needs to be advanced beyond the level of pure 
description (Ogan, 1988 cited in White, 2001). Beyond this, the theory is also found to be 
lacking in predictive powers.
3. The   economic   component   of   media   imperialism   may   be   expressed   in   statistics,   but   the 
cultural component is much more difficult to measure (Ogan, 1988 cited in White, 2001). 
This calls to question the various empirical supports this theory claims to have garnered over 
time.
14 | 
P a g e


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