With the development of new technologies, media has been a most important avenue of propagating information throughout the world. People receive the same message with their ways of thinking based on their local circumstances. No matter it is true or not, cultures have been reconfigurated for years.
This review examines a group of research that is associated with the relationship between cultures and foreign influences as well as foreign media. Specifically, this review focuses on whether cultures are eroded by foreign influences and media or not. Foreign influences and media may be powerful in some way and result in cultural homogenization. In spite of this, local cultures in a variety of countries may be strong enough to adapt these external influences. This is especially relevant to themes of cultural hybridization or cultural interchange.
An increasing number of studies (Arnett, 2002; Morris, 2002 and UN, 2003) have examined the effect of foreign influences and media with divergent view on cultural homogenisation and hybridization. The UN (2003) adopts socio-economic perspective, while Arnett (2002) focus on the psychological aspect. Morris (2002) takes an anti-essentialist approach. Her main arguments are that there is no such thing as an uncorrupted culture and that cultural interaction has always been the norm. She is an opponent of cultural imperialism theory which involves the idea that globalisation leads to a one-directional influence from powerful nations, especially America, to other less powerful nations and the homogenization of cultures. The cultural imperialism theorists have also argued that unadulterated culture does exist before the intrusion of foreign influences and media (Morris 2002 para.2).
As a proponent of cultural imperialism theory, the UN (2003) claims that western countries spread their dominant values through media all over the world and local cultures are greatly influenced by external elements. It gives an example of young men in Congo who try to become a high-status group by purchasing the brand products (UN 2003 para.22). This suggests the UNs view about cultural globalisation, that is, multinational companies who are able to control the media are powerful enough to manipulate the information and dominant value propagated in daily life, which may cause the homogenization of cultures. This is a significant study, the UN (2003 para.24) not only talk about the cultural homogenization, but also admits the existence of a “third space” that people are possible to accept and reject foreign cultures at the same time and this allows the combination between local culture and foreign influences. However, what seems to have been largely overestimated is the power of media companies. Besides, the UN does not fully take into account the ability of cultures.
The idea that cultures are resilient is held by Morris. She (2002) explicitly critiques cultural imperialism theory and states that hybridization has always existed.