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The cultural erosion metaphor and the transcultural impact of media systems

Varan, D. (1998) The cultural erosion metaphor and the transcultural impact of media systems. Journal of Communication, 48 (2). pp. 58-85.

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Through paradigmatic application of geological constructs, I demonstrate the utility of applying the erosion metaphor to questions related to the transcultural impact of television. I explore four specific processes associated with such erosion: cultural abrasion, resulting from friction between the contrasting values reflected in a cultural terrain and a foreign media agent; cultural deflation, whereby least consolidated facets within a culture are most vulnerable to foreign influence; cultural deposition, in which foreign beliefs, practices, and artifacts supplement a cultural landscape potentially providing for cross-cultural fertilization; and cultural saltation, where social practices may appropriate communication systems in response to the perceived threat of a foreign media agent. The metaphor provides a framework to reinterpret earlier findings and to contextualize experiences of cultures under threat.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: 1998 International Communication Association
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