Chris Blattman

Why it might be a good thing if the US exports culture

Advances in communication technologies over the past half century have made the cultural goods of one country more readily available to consumers in another, raising concerns that cultural products from large economies – in particular the US – will displace the indigenous cultural products of smaller economies.

…Contrary to growing fears about large- country dominance, trade shares are roughly proportional to country GDP shares; and relative to GDP, the US music share is substantially below the shares of other smaller countries. We find a substantial bias toward domestic music which has, perhaps surprisingly, increased sharply in the past decade.

…National policies aimed at preventing the death of local culture, such as radio airplay quotas, may explain part of the increasing consumption of local music.

That comes from a new paper from Fernando Ferreira and Joel Waldfogel.

Is the export of US culture something to be feared? Rock is the descendant of African rhythms, and the re-import of jazz and rock and hip hop in Africa has led to amazing local innovation. We’ve exported Hollywood to India and Nigeria and gotten Bollywood and Nollywood in return: a medium and media transformed.

4 Responses

  1. beleive me a movie can be in English a still people will line up to see it with subtitles… ive seen movie theaters all around the world.

  2. If one is a net exporter of culture, as I think the US may be, it is to be expected that the policy of this country would be to try to make each and every single country open its cultural market, like prof. Blattman would prefer.

    But if one is a net importer of culture, it is also to be expected for protectionist causes to exist in such countries. I’m not sure of the validness of -ollyhoods argument.

    I think it’s biased, after all, what has American movies done to the nonenglish speaking European cinema? I would say that the latter has been hitten so hard by the former that it almost subsidy dependent industry nowadays, even events like the Berlinale are heavily subsidized.

    This has more or less happened in other parts of the world too, where local movie industries would be much smaller without the help of the government.

  3. I would love to see a list of favorite African artists leading the innovative charge.

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