Sunday, 29 July 2012

Americanisation and Consumer Culture

Photo by Tianzhan
The process of Americanisation is a fairly easy one to understand, simple because we see it everywhere - you don't even have to go to America to experience it. Americanisation can be defined as "the propagation of American ideas, customs, social patterns, language, industry and capital around the world" (Williams, 962 as cited in Ritzer and Ryan, 2004). 
So what’s so bad about it? Well first of all, some suggest that we are headed towards one homogeneous culture as a result of widespread American culture (Behrends, 2007). Although as long as religion, cultural beliefs and other cultural differences exist, this is highly unlikely, but we are definitely seeing American domination throughout the world as well as the meshing of various cultures as a result.
Photo by KittyBitty
Quite often Americanisation is grouped in with Globalisation, and Ritzer and Ryan (2004) combine the two in one definition where "American corporations aggressively export commodities for their own profit". This process also includes the exportation of not only goods, but needs, desires and lifestyles – all of which allows multinational corporations to promote a ‘consumer culture’ through advertising.

Behrends (2007) states that this consumerist revolution first began between 1880 and 1930, around the time of Modernity when the 'desire to possess the latest goods' was born. This belief however has continued and as a result is creating a society where we buy new things before anything is old - This also raises questions about whether are simply becoming the 'throw away' society. 
CLICK THIS LINK - Excerpts from "Josie and the Pussycats” making fun of the music industry, pop culture and consumerism.

The following clip is only mildly related to the post but is worth a watch: HBO's "The News Room," written by Aaron Sorkin, and directed by Greg Mottola.

Behrends, C (2005), How advertising and consumer culture are contributing to the creation of a homogeneous global culture, Munich, GRIN Publishing. <source>

Ritzer, G. & Ryan, M. (2004) Americanisation, McDonaldisation and Globalisation In Campbell, N. Davies, J. McKay, G. (Eds.) Issues in Americanisation and Culture pp: 41 – 60, Great Britain, Edinburgh University Press.<source>


  1. This blog post was a very interesting read mainly because of the scholarly references used by the writer. They helped strengthen the argument and helped me better understand consumer culture!
    Well done!

  2. This is really well written, scholarly and engaging. You’ve clearly done your research and your links to videos are relevant. Whether the ‘throwaway culture’ and ‘consumer culture’ are really distinct from each other I’m not sure, but the latter certainly necessitates the former; for how can the economies that thrive on consumerism profit if people don’t buy the ‘next big thing’. Your link to the Josie & the Pussycats video (which was surprisingly relevant) certainly exemplified this ‘throwaway culture’. I can’t fault this post; you’ve done a great job, and it was a really interesting read.

  3. Kate that was a really strongly written piece. I really enjoyed reading it and I think you grasped Americanisation really well. It was a great use of references as well making it liable. I would have loved to have heard more of your own personal expereinces with Americanisation as well though. Great piece, Thanks!

  4. The piece is very well researched and it's clear you have a a thorough comprehension of the topic. You show this in your abundance of references and citations. You have a few sections of strong analysis (e.g "you don't even have to go to America to experience it") and I would have loved to have seen more of this.

    Cheers, Robert.

  5. Hi Kate, very strong post, you use of references was great and it really helped with your efforts to define the topic of Americanisation. I enjoyed reading you thoughts on the issue. By asking the question about the negativity of Americanisation you were effectively able to explain the effects that U.S dominance could have on other global cultures. Overall a good post, solid referencing and discussion, keep up the good work!