International survey: is there too much American influence on national culture?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 06, 2023, 9:18 AM GMT+0

American influence is most noted on movies, TV and music

A new YouGov survey conducted in nine countries – seven in Europe (Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden) as well as Australia and Singapore – asks people how much American cultural influence there is in their country, and whether it is too much.

Given the global might of Hollywood, it is unsurprising to see that in almost every country it is “movies” that are most seen as American-influenced, with between 66% and 89% of people saying there is a ‘great deal’ or ‘moderate amount’ of American influence.

America has clearly left its mark on other areas of entertainment worldwide, with 61-85% detecting a moderate to large level of US influence in terms of the TV people watch in their country and 60-86% say the same about music.

America’s cultural reach extends farther than just entertainment, however.

Around half or more in each country surveyed (47-65%) say there is a substantial amount of US influence on the news media, and 31-44% even say the same of their national political culture.

The voice of America can also be heard coming out of people’s mouths in the street: 50-67% of those countries surveyed say there is a moderate to great deal of US influence on “language and the way people talk”.

At least half of people in each country (52-73%) also see the US shaping the brands people use and shop with.

Even Christmas is seen as at least somewhat Americanised by many, although Danes are notably less likely to think their national yuletide is much affected (19%, vs 30-64% elsewhere). This could explain why a separate international survey found Danes are the most likely to see Christmas as a ‘proper’, rather than commercialised, celebration.

In what areas do people think there is too much American influence?

But is such cultural infiltration a problem? For some, it seems to be.

Australians in particular are unhappy with the level of American influence on entertainment. A majority say there is too much US influence on movies (65%), TV (59%) and music (53%). Most Britons also feel like there is too much Hollywood influence on film (55%).

In fact, movies, TV and music were almost always the top three choices in each country for the areas of too much American influence – perhaps unsurprising given they are also the areas which people feel the strongest level of American influence.

One of the most notable outliers in the results is France, where 32% of people feel there is too much American influence on their news media. This is compared to 12-22% in the other countries surveyed.

Last week the right-wing party leading the Italian government introduced legislation to punish the use of foreign words in official communications, criticising the creep of English words in particular as ‘Anglomania’.

The results show that 20% of Italians think there is too much American influence on language and the way people talk in Italy (although of course not all English-language infiltration will have an American origin).

This is not particularly different to concern in other European countries. In France – a country so protective of its language that it has a centuries-old linguistic watchdog to preserve the purity of le française – French people (20%) are equally likely to there is too much American influence on the language as Italians. Across all countries surveyed, the figure ranges between 15% (Spain) and 29% (Sweden).

See the full results here

Photo: Getty

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