Reviewed by Leanne Strum, Ph.D., Head of Technical Services & Systems
Globalization and American Popular Culture was written by Lane Crothers, a professor of politics and government at Illinois State University. This concise and insightful book examines the way that American movies, music, and television (as goods marketed and consumed around the world) are key elements of contemporary globalization. Crothers offers a nuanced exploration of these influential cultural products and their contradictory impacts: in some cases promoting a desire for integration into the broader world community, in others generating disgust and outright rejection. He explores the connection between American popular culture and globalization with the help of many case studies dispersed throughout the book.
According to Brian Yost, who reviewed the first edition of the book, the majority of Crothers’s research came from websites, including Wikipedia, answers.com and celebritywonder.com.1 Despite this limitation, Yost stated that Crothers presented an interesting connection between foreign nations’ social resistance to American cultural influence and international economic policy. An examination of the second edition reveals that Crothers has updated his book with extensive new references and research. He also includes an extensive recommended reading list.
Globalization and American Popular Culture consists of six chapters. In chapter one Crothers established the link between American popular culture and globalization. He introduces the notion that American public culture contains an array of values, norms, and practices that distinguish it from other cultures. American public culture, Crothers writes, is civic. Americans believe in ideals and values that promote the dignity and rights of all individuals. Chapters two and three provide an overview of American popular culture and a history of the movie, recording, and television industries.
Crothers examines the American global cultural franchise in chapter five by focusing on the cultural impact of a number of key brands, including Coca Cola, McDonald’s, the “blue jean” and the emerging market of the NFL (National Football League). These franchises are dominating the worldwide market, and Crothers offers a thoughtful examination of both the appeal of American products worldwide and the fear and rejection they induce in many people and nations around the world.
In chapter six Crothers looks at American popular culture and the future of globalization, concluding with a projection of how American movies, music, and television programs may influence the future of globalization. Globalization and American Popular Culture makes a powerful argument for the central role of culture in shaping global politics and economic development. The book avoids technical or philosophical terminology and will likely appeal more to a more general readership than to scholarly researchers.
1Brian Yost, “Globalization & American Popular Culture by Lane Crothers,” Journal of American Culture 31, no. 2 (June 2008): 225. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost.