Cultural imperialism is the process and practice of promoting one culture over another and often occurs through programs designed to assist other nations, particularly developing nations. Historically this occurred during colonization where one nation overpowers another weaker country for economic or political gain. Culture can be imposed in a wide variety of ways such as through restructuring education, religious, and political institutions.
Cultural imperialism is different from cultural diffusion primarily due to the mechanisms involved in changing culture and the roles power plays in the process.
Contemporary practices that result in cultural imperialism often take the form of development or assistance programs for struggling nations or communities.In recent years contemporary globalization, or globalism, is the new vehicle by which cultural imperialism can occur. People supporting the expansion of free markets contend that cultures are naturally fluid and therefore cultural imperialism is a natural result of trade. If western practices and ideas are adopted then it is believed that the cultural practices associated with them are better.Challenges to this belief include a questioning of what is being transferred or imposed upon other nations, who or what benefits from cultural shifts and what cultural aspects become lost.