Americanization: Analysis of a Concept
St. John, Joy
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This thesis examines a recurrent phenomenon within Canadian society and politics: the fear as well as the claim that the country is becoming "Americanized". Although recent indications of a concurrent value shift among advanced industrial nations call the validity of Americanization claims into question, they continue to the present day. This thesis posits that Americanization claims express underlying issues that contribute to their longevity. Its purpose is to excavate these underlying issues in order to derive an essential meaning for the term. The study applies the method of conceptual analysis to a variety of materials from the mid-1960s to the 1980s. In the present study this consists of, first seeking out the logic contained in the arguments emanating from two traditional perspectives: continentalist and nationalist. Second, the identification of similarities and dissimilarities across these perspectives assists in excavating underlying issues and common themes from which to derive meaning. It is posited that the phenomenon of Americanization is best viewed in two dimensions: the appearance or nature of the phenomenon and the meaning attached to it. On the first measure, Americanization appears diffuse. It is incoherent and often ambiguous. This complicates the task of determining meaning but does not preclude it. Similar themes and concepts found in the debate - sovereignty, independence, homogenization - indicate significant agreement on the importance of difference as an essential component in the debate. The value of difference or diversity has traditionally been recognized in Canada. Despite the established fact that value differences between advanced industrial states appear to be diminishing, local variations remain important to this populace. It may appear in the different ordering of similarly held values, nevertheless it is there and it retains importance to Canadians. Americanization serves as a reminder of that value.