Cultural imperialism and resistance in media theory and literary theory
This article places particular emphasis on the criticism of cultural imperialism that began in the mid-1980s and that is now subsumed under the rubric of `cultural studies' and its key concepts: the active audience, audience `resistance' to media messages, and polysemy. It contrasts the political economy school with cultural studies. The positions of Herbert Schiller and Armand Mattelart on the `resistance debate' are outlined, with the author concluding that while Schiller still asserts the validity of cultural imperialism thinking, Mattelart has moved in a slightly different direction. Nonetheless, while the latter has welcomed the departure from monolithic research models, he by no means endorses cultural studies positions, particularly their political implications. The article also contrasts the way `resistance' has been used by postmodernists in the field of communications with its meaning as articulated by two prominent writers in the field of comparative literature: Edward Said and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o. Both writers still validate the notion of cultural imperialism and use the term `resistance' to refer to the struggles against colonialism and imperialism in the countries of the South.