Popular culture is conceptualized as a set of attitudes, ideas, and perspectives or other phenomena that are dominant within the mainstream of any given culture, and is mostly used to refer to the Western culture. One of the most prominent forms of popular culture is the fast food culture, and this issue was selected for this papers discussion. Fast food has been increasingly associated with the West as well as with the notions of unhealthy living, which is quite understandable. The explosion of fast food chains in the UAE, especially McDonalds, is the most visible embodiment of Western influence on the UAE culture. This fast food culture has been reproduced and consumed globally through the opening of these large fast food chains in countries with diverse food cultures. This paper reveals some of the factors that have contributed towards the popularity of this American cultural form in the UAE. The analysis indicates that the proliferation of the mass media, increased globalization, and American cultural imperialism have contributed immensely towards making this American cultural practice popular in the UAE.
The proliferation of the technological devices, coupled with increased internet penetration into the UAE, has essentially optimized the access of the UAE residents to the mass media, especially the social media. This has made it easy for firms such as McDonalds to optimize their popularity in the society. Using the mass media, McDonalds has advanced the ideals of affordability, convenience, and quick service, which have appealed massively to the UAE hippy generation. Through its mass media operations, McDonalds has transcended the limits of nationalism in the UAE by offering products that have trans-cultural appeals and invite the consumer to independently conceptualize their authenticity around the fast food culture. Accordingly, some UAE residents identify the golden arches of McDonalds as their choice of convenience, others as a sign of their transcending of cultural boundaries, while to others it is simply a food joint.
A further reason that explains the growing popularity of the American fast food culture in the UAE is increased globalization. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it becomes easier to pick up cultural practices that were once considered foreign, and integrate them into the UAE culture. Firms such as McDonalds have spread in the UAE due to globalization, the idea that the world is increasingly having more things in common. The huge number of American expatriates in the UAE has influenced the native residents to embrace this fast food culture and consume the American foods. Crucially, though, even as McDonalds advances this American form of culture, it is keen to penetrate to each of the different cultural contexts it ventures into (Conway, 2012). In the UAE, for instance, it removes products containing pork and makes hamburgers that are spiced with cumin and coriander like the traditional local dishes. It is this sensitivity and localization of the popular cultural form that makes it desirable in the UAE.
The last core factor is American cultural imperialism. America has for long portrayed its culture, which is often synonymous with the popular culture, as the ideal global culture. McDonalds, for instance, builds the association with the UAE residents by branding itself in the mainstream media as the quintessential social norm. It presents itself as the ideal place where families come to eat, where the kids love to visit for takeaway food, and, lately, as the only fast food chain that offers healthy variants of its fast foods continuum. This enhances its popularity amongst the UAE residents.
To conclude, it is evident that the fast food culture is an apt representation of a globalized American culture. It is an embodiment of the Western influence on other cultures. One of the reasons attributable to its popularity in the UAE is the permeation of the mass media, especially the social media, which has been used to inculcate the American ideas as the global ideals. A further reason is the increased globalization and harmonization of tastes and preferences. The last factor contributing towards the spread of this popular cultural form in the UAE has been the cultural imperialistic tendencies of American firms.
About the author
Robert Cooper specializes in writing academic papers on educational topics. He is a writer at Case Study Writing Service Canada