The Spectre of Americanization: Western Europe in the American Century

Philipp Gassert

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 The Spectre of Americanization: Western Europe in the American Century

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By 1945, the spectre of Americanisation had been haunting Europe for half a century. With the United States still struggling to establish colonial rule over the Philippine Islands, European observers began framing the ‘American challenge’ as a cultural and most of all economic threat to national independence. Controversies about the impact of ‘America’ often served as a stand-in for a more fundamental reckoning with processes of modernisation. The initial period of sustained Americanisation was the 1920s, when American film, music, and automobiles were conquering Europe for the first time. A second heyday of Americanisation ‘from below’ started with the ‘American occupation of Britain’ and that of continental Europe during and after World War II. This article focuses on Western Europe and Americanisation, highlighting Americanisation from above and Americanisation from below. It looks at two concepts that often come up within debates about Americanisation: Westernisation and anti-Americanism.

Keywords: Americanisation; United States; Western Europe; Westernisation; anti-Americanism; modernisation; film; music; Britain; World War II

Article.  8868 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945)

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