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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 media theorists reject the extreme form of technological determinism put forth by McLuhan for two reasons. These reasons are summarized by DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1982:185) below: Social scientists generally reject the idea that any single factor - be it technology, the economy, or chromosomes - can be the single cause of social behaviour. This distrust of single-factor theories is buttressed by theory and research developments that demonstrate the influence of both psychological and social factors on the individual’s or group’s encounters with the mass media. This is not to say that Innis’s thesis need be rejected out of hand; most media theorists would accept the proposition that the technological characteristics of a mass medium may be one of many factors that should be taken into account. But others like Baran (2002) see technology as more or less neutral and claim that the way people use technology is what gives it significance and meaning. Baran’s school of thought accepts technology as one of the many factors that shape economic and cultural changes and concludes that technology’s influence is ultimately determined by how much power it is given by the people and cultures that use it. According to Baran (2002:22): This disagreement about the power of technology is at the heart of the controversy surrounding the new communication technologies. Are we more or less powerless in the wake of advances like the Internet, the World Wide Web, instant global audio and visual communication? If we are at the mercy of technology, the culture that surrounds us will not be of our making, and the best we can hope to do is to make our way reasonably well in a world outside our own control. But if these technologies are indeed neutral and their power resides in how we choose to use them, we can utilize them responsively and thoughtfully to construct and maintain whatever kind of culture we want. In his analysis of this theory in a recent study conducted in Nigeria, Ekeanyanwu (2008: 115) says: The accusation leveled against new communication technologies that it is leading to cultural imperialism is both misleading and unintelligent. The power of technology is in the use to which it is put, not in its very nature. Therefore, we can apply it to suit our cultural needs; not it compelling us to follow its own dictates or the dictates of the owners of such technology as suggested by some anti-western media scholars who always argue in favour of cultural imperialism as the main result of the influence of globalization and the role of new communication technologies. 4 | P a g e

Authors: Ekeanyanwu, Nnamdi.
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Theorizing Cultural Development vis-à-vis Cultural Imperialism Theory: Lessons from Nigeria
media theorists reject the extreme form of technological determinism put forth by McLuhan for two 
reasons. These reasons are summarized by DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1982:185) below:
Social scientists generally reject the idea that any single factor - be it 
technology, the economy, or chromosomes - can be the single cause of 
social behaviour. This distrust of single-factor theories is buttressed by 
theory and research developments that demonstrate the influence of 
both psychological and social factors on the individual’s or group’s 
encounters with the mass media. This is not to say that Innis’s thesis 
need be rejected out of hand; most media theorists would accept the 
proposition that the technological  characteristics of a mass medium 
may be one of many factors that should be taken into account.
But others like Baran (2002) see technology as more or less neutral and claim that the way 
people use technology is what gives it significance and meaning. Baran’s school of thought accepts 
technology as one of the many factors that shape economic and cultural changes and concludes that 
technology’s influence is ultimately determined by how much power it is given by the people and 
cultures that use it. According to Baran (2002:22):
This disagreement about the power of technology is at the heart of the 
controversy surrounding the new communication technologies. Are we 
more or less powerless in the wake of advances like the Internet, the 
World Wide Web, instant global audio and visual communication? If 
we are at the mercy of technology, the culture that surrounds us will 
not be of our making, and the best we can hope to do is to make our 
way reasonably well in a world outside our own control. But if these 
technologies  are indeed  neutral  and their  power resides in  how we 
choose to use them, we can utilize them responsively and thoughtfully 
to construct and maintain whatever kind of culture we want.
In his analysis of this theory in a recent study conducted in Nigeria, Ekeanyanwu (2008: 115) 
says:
The accusation leveled against new communication technologies that it 
is leading to cultural imperialism is both misleading and unintelligent. 
The power of technology is in the use to which it is put, not in its very 
nature. Therefore, we can apply it to suit our cultural needs; not it 
compelling us to follow its own dictates or the dictates of the owners 
of such technology as suggested by some anti-western media scholars 
who always argue in favour of cultural imperialism as the main result 
of the influence of globalization and the role of new communication 
technologies. 
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P a g e


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