Ameritocracy: Hollywood blockbusters and the universalisation of American values

Langley, Richard Mark (2012). Ameritocracy: Hollywood blockbusters and the universalisation of American values. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


Download (1MB)


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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
E History America > E151 United States (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year