Cultural Imperialism of Disney

by Shahiirah Atiqah Sharom

Nowadays, within the modern world, it can be seen that the culture of Disney has spread all over the world, aided by its popularity. But the questions that raises to our mind is what are the main cause of it? It is greatly well-known that Disney is one of the most powerful organization that owns around billions of the amount of media assets. As stated by Wantasen (n.d.), the term of “Disneyization” usually will be defined based on the bad way and it also indicates the homogenization of the emotional labour, consumption and merchandising. According to Bryman, (n.d.), there are four dimensions of cultural imperialism of Disney, which are theming, emotional labour, dedifferentiation of consumption and also merchandising.

Firstly, theming of the theme park. As nowadays, most of the leisure activities have becoming standardized and also homogenized, therefore due to the fact that it is well-known theme park, it could be the product, together with the shifting of the society’s needs. Nevertheless, they have come up with the visualized cartoon in forms of physically exist in order to attract more visitors. It can be said that one of the reason of the development of this industry is due to the high demand among society to stay away from stressful daily environment (Bryman, n.d.).

Meanwhile, as stated by Bryman (n.d.), the term dedifferentiation of consumption defines that the general trend, in which the forms of consumption associated with different institutional spheres becomes interlocked with each other and increasingly difficult to distinguish”. In other words, the main attraction is not totally focused only on the industry of theme park, but also restaurants, accommodations, shops and so on. The combination of those services may be defined as the “consumption of hybrid” that represents the merging of various kinds of the consumption. Plus, the main key objective for the organization is to attract more on the spending among visitors, therefore they can produce more profit. The higher the needs being fulfilled, the longer period of time that people will prefer to stay. Same goes to their spending. As for example, those visitor, their main idea is just to go to the theme park, however, they will still need to spend more on the food, souvenir and others as well. This is the same thing as you dropped into the airport as it can also become your shopping spots. So, your main point here is to take flight, but still you want to spend on the other things as well like foods for example.

Besides that, the other elements is the merchandising that also represents the franchising. As stated by Bryman (n.d.), merchandising acts as the part of the promotion of the products in the form of or holding the images and also logos of copyright, which involves those products that are made under the license. It can also mentioned that it’s one of the main reason that Disney becomes the leading and also very popular organization throughout the whole globe. Besides that, they have a lot of different kind of products for their merchandise which was sold at all of their outlet. Therefore, the key contributor of their profit comes from the sales of their merchandise like books, hats, mug and so on. As stated by Bryman (n.d.), rather than the general type of business solely, the sales of merchandising surely will encourage towards better profit.

The fourth element that was proposed by Bryman (n.d.), was the emotional labor, in which he explains that the employees are given no choice but to behave within the behavior that has been set by them. As for example, portraying the good and joyful behavior as the employee of the theme park whenever they are communicating with the visitors of the theme park. Those employees need to comply with the specific behavior that has been set by them, in terms of the helpfulness, friendliness and cleanliness. However, this kind of behavior in working was finally turn into the stereotype of contemporary culture. This is to convey the idea that the theme park employees also feeling happy as well, therefore it produces the loyalty among the visitor based on the medium of conversation among them.

As for conclusion, through the advancement of technology, it can be said that there’s no longer barrier to spread the culture all over the globe, that people can reach the information at any of their convenient time. The influence of this culture can be seen through the domination of Disney culture towards the world. Within Malaysia, it can be seen through the transformation by Malaysian make-up artist, Saraswati, through her Instagram account, Queenofluna into few characters of Disney princess (Malaymail, 2016). This was somehow shown that we actually being affected by the diffusion of culture. This is a very rigid examples of how Disney culture is being integrated into our own culture. In which, people adapted and also accepted the culture and at the same time this shows how powerful the Disney’s hegemonic across the globe nowadays. The society however, could be either negatively or positively affected by the culture of Disney. As for positive, it could be we get to learn new culture and negative effect is our own culture might lose its own original identity as mixed up with the other culture.


Bryman, A. (n.d.). The Disneyization of Society. Sociology Review, Vol 47, 125-26, 29-30.

Malaymail (2016, February 27). Malaysian makeup artist proves you can wear a tudung and be a Disney princess. Retrieved February 27, 2016, from

Wantasen, I. (n.d.). Walt Disney as the Icon of the American Popular Culture. Sam Ratulangi University. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from