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Americanisation

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Americanisation

This article is about the influence the United States of America has on the culture of other countries. For other uses, see Americanization (disambiguation).

Outside the United States, Americanization or Americanisation is a term for the influence the United States has on the culture of other countries, such as their popular culture, cuisine, technology, business practices, or political techniques. The term has been used since at least 1907.[1] Within the United States, the term Americanization refers to the process of acculturation by immigrants or annexated populations (e.g. the Californios) to American customs and values.

Media and popular culture

Hollywood (the American film and television industry) dominates most of the world's media markets. It is the chief medium by which people across the globe see American fashions, customs, scenery and way of life.[2]

U.S.-based TV programs are re-broadcast around the world. Many of them through American broadcasters and their subsidiaries (such as HBO Asia, CNBC Europe and CNN International). Many of these distributors broadcast mainly American programming on their TV channels. In 2006, a survey of 20 countries by Radio Times found seven American shows in the ten most-watched: CSI: Miami, Lost, Desperate Housewives, The Simpsons, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.[3]

American films are also extremely popular around the world, often dominating cinemas. Adjusting for inflation, the highest grossing film of all time is Gone with the Wind. Often part of the negotiating in free trade agreements between the U.S. and other nations involves screen quotas. One such case is Mexico, which abolished screen quotas following the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the U.S.[4] Recently South Korea has agreed to reduce its quota under pressure from the U.S. as part of a free trade deal.[5]

Many U.S.-based artists, such as Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are recognized worldwide and have sold over 500 million albums each.[6] Michael Jackson's album Thriller, at 100 million sales, is the best-selling album of all time.[7]

American business and brands

Of the top ten global brands, seven are based in the United States.[8] Coca-Cola, which holds the top spot, is often viewed as a symbol of Americanization.[9] Fast food is also often viewed as being a symbol of U.S. marketing dominance. Companies such as Starbucks, McDonald's,[10] Burger King, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino's Pizza among others have numerous outlets around the world.

Many of the world's biggest computer companies are also U.S. based, such as Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Dell and IBM, and much of the software bought worldwide is created by U.S. based companies. Carayannis and Campbell note that "The USA occupies, also in global terms, a very strong position in the software sector."[11]

In Germany in the 1920s, the American efficiency movement was called "rationalization" and it was a powerful social and economic force. In part it looked explicitly at American models, especially Fordism.[12] "Rationalization" meant higher productivity and greater efficiency, promising science would bring prosperity. More generally it promised a new level of modernity and was applied to economic production and consumption as well as public administration. Various versions of rationalization were promoted by industrialists and social democrats, by engineers and architects, by educators and academics, by middle class feminists and social workers, by government officials and politicians of many parties. As ideology and practice, rationalization challenged and transformed not only machines, factories, and vast business enterprises but also the lives of middle-class and working-class Germans.[13]

Visibility

During the 15 years from 1950 to 1965, American investments in Europe soared by 800% to $13.9 billion, and in the European Economic Community rose 10 times to $6.25 billion. Europe's share of American investments increased from 15% to 28%. The investments were of very high visibility and generated much talk of Americanization. Even so American investments in Europe represented only 5% of the total European investment and American-owned companies in the European Economic Community employ only 2 or 3% of the total labor force. The basic reason for the U.S. investments is no longer lower production costs, faster economic growth, or higher profits in Europe, but the desire to maintain a competitive position based largely on American technological superiority. Opposition to U.S. investments, originally confined to France, later spread to other European countries. Public opinion began to resent American advertising and business methods, personnel policies, and the use of the English language by American companies. Criticism was also directed toward the international currency system which was blamed for inflationary tendencies as a result of the dominant position of the U.S. dollar.[14] However by the 1970s European investments in the U.S. increased even more rapidly than vice versa, and Geir Lundestad finds there was less talk of the Americans buying Europe.[15]

Historiography

Berghahn (2010) analyzes the debate on the usefulness of the concepts of 'Americanization' and 'Westernization'. He reviews the recent research on the European-American relationship during the Cold War that has dealt with the cultural impact of the United States upon Europe. He then discusses the relevant work on this subject in the fields of economic and business history. Overall, the article tries to bring out that those who have applied the concept of 'Americanization' to their research on cultural and/or economic history have been well aware of the complexities of trans-Atlantic relations in this period, whether they were viewed as a two-way exchange or as a process of circulation.[16]

See also

  • Neoconservatism
  • Notes

    Further reading

    • Abdulrahim, Masoud A., Ali A. J. Al-Kandari, and Mohammed Hasanen, β€œThe Influence of American Television Programs on University Students in Kuwait: A Synthesis,” European Journal of American Culture 28 (no. 1, 2009), 57–74.
    • Berghahn, Volker R. "The debate on 'Americanization' among economic and cultural historians," Cold War History, Feb 2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, pp 107–130
    • Campbell, Neil, Jude Davies and George McKay, eds. . Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
    • DeBres, Karen. "A Cultural Geography of McDonald's UK," Journal of Cultural Geography, 2005
    • Fehrenbach, Heide, and Uta G. Poiger. "Americanization Reconsidered," in idem, eds., Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan (2000)
    • Haines, Gerald K. The Americanization of Brazil: A Study of U.S.Cold War Diplomacy in the Third World, 1945-54, Scholarly Resources, 1993
    • Hilger, Susanne: , European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2012, retrieved: June 6, 2012.
    • Martn, Lawrence. Pledge of Allegiance: The Americanization of Canada in the Mulroney Years, Mcclelland & Stewart Ltd, 1993, ISBN 0-7710-5663-X
    • Malchow, H.L. Special Relations: The Americanization of Britain? (Stanford University Press; 2011) 400 pages explores American influence on the culture and counterculture of metropolitan London from the 1950s to the 1970s, from "Swinging London" to black, feminist, and gay liberation.
    • Moffett, Samuel E. The Americanization of Canada (1907) full text online
    • Nolan, Mary. Visions of Modernity: American Business and the Modernization of Germany (1995)
    • Nolan, Mary. "Housework Made Easy: the Taylorized Housewife in Weimar Germany's Rationalized Economy," Feminist Studies. Volume: 16. Issue: 3. pp 549+
    • Rydell, Robert W., Rob Kroes: Buffalo Bill in Bologna. The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922, University of Chicago Press, 2005, ISBN 0-226-73242-8
    • Willett, Ralph. The Americanization of Germany, 1945-1949 (1989)
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