What's Wrong with Neocolonialism: The Case of Unequal Trade in Cultural Goods

Shuk Ying Chan, Alan Patten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unequal patterns of cultural exchange between the Global South and Global North are sometimes labeled "neo-colonial."What, if anything, is wrong with these patterns? Debates surrounding cultural globalization have traditionally divided proponents of free trade and cultural preservation. The article develops an alternative account grounded in a global application of the ideal of social equality. Citizens of privileged societies ought to regard and relate to citizens of disadvantaged societies as social equals. Patterns of cultural exchange play an important role in promoting these relationships. Historically, colonized peoples were often regarded as inferior based on perceived failures to produce cultural achievements. To the extent that unequal global cultural production and exchange persist, the colonial pattern remains. The duty to relate to foreigners as equals implies that Global North countries should stop pressing for cultural trade concessions and instead favor the import of cultural goods from the Global South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'What's Wrong with Neocolonialism: The Case of Unequal Trade in Cultural Goods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this