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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Consumer culture imperialism

  • Author(s): De Carvalho, Marcelo Gon̨calves
  • et al.

The thesis examines the interplay between political, military, economic, social and cultural influences in the context of the United States' control over Brazil. The main argument is that the ways used by the United States to control Brazil were, and are, a form of imperialism even though there was never any use of direct American military invasion or occupation. The role of the US during World War II, but most importantly their role in the 1964 military coup, demonstrated the American involvement in this crucial moment in Brazilian history. Then a discussion of the development of television follows, which in Brazil after 1964 meant Rede Globo, and its connections to the new economic model implemented by the military government are examined in order to demonstrate Brazil's direct subordination to the interests of American multinational corporations. This apparatus was further extended by the establishment of American advertising agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, which allowed for the homogenization of Brazilian culture and tastes with the model of the American Way of Life in its "Brazilianized" version, as represented by the Cultura Zona Sul with the telenovela as its main tool. This model I called "Consumer Culture Imperialism" because it was through the creation of desires to consume in the same way as Americans initially, and Brazilian elites later, that American control was achieved. The thesis concludes that this model is still very pervasive in Brazil today, together with Globo's virtual monopoly, therefore making the research into this field now more important than ever before

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