eTheses Repository

Ameritocracy: Hollywood blockbusters and the universalisation of American values

Langley, Richard Mark (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

PDF (1159Kb)


The thesis contends that there is a dominant strand of thinking driving the prevailing metanarrative of American global hegemony. This strand, constructed here as Ameritocracy, taps into three interconnected and fundamental principles concerning the nature of America: that American values are universal, terminal and providential. However, this notion of American universality is contradicted by a troubling parochialism, one that reveals religious, racial and cultural particularities generated from American identity, and from the mythic, providential origin story of America.

The thesis expands on the theory of Ameritocracy, its historical derivation and theoretical antecedents, and its application within the soft power realm of Hollywood film. Ameritocracy finds its apotheosis in the popular blockbuster films of the unipolar era. The global aspirations of the blockbuster conflate with the universality of the medium, and thereby function as the perfect conduit for expounding the presumed universality of the American nation, promoting and proselytising on behalf of American primacy, using Ameritocratic arguments to legitimise and normalise U.S. hegemony. Analysis of blockbuster texts reveals that the notions of universality they embed are often partial and particular, featuring an obfuscation of definitions, between ideals and interests, between ends and means, and between the universal and the American.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Lucas, W. Scott
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:American and Canadian Studies
Additional Information:

The video element of this thesis is not available online.

Keywords:Hollywood, Universalisation, Americanisation, Movies, Film, Blockbusters, Primacy, Universality, Terminality, Providentiality, America, American, Soft Power
Subjects:E11 America (General)
E151 United States (General)
N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
PN1993 Motion Pictures
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3376
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
Export Reference As : ASCII + BibTeX + Dublin Core + EndNote + HTML + METS + MODS + OpenURL Object + Reference Manager + Refer + RefWorks
Share this item :
QR Code for this page

Repository Staff Only: item control page