Lecture 4: There is No Globalization without Media: A Brief History

Review

  • Globalization is a result of media and migration
  • It is NOT a simple one-way process (Ex. Appadurai’s argument of disjuncture and the existence of multiple landscapes and globalization occurring from both developments from West AND East)
  • Furthermore, globalization has changed the world in both good and bad ways (Ex. It has increased interconnectivity between people across the world with the help of media and communications)
  • However, one may argue that a major consequence of globalization is that it eliminates face-to-face interaction (dialogical) in a context of co-presence, which involves a two-way flow of information and is dialogical in character

Media and Globalization

  • Studies on globalization started to emerge in the early 1990s in different fields
  • In communication studies, ‘media’ and ‘globalization’ are two words that seem to be repeated over and over again, however, their mutual connection is not visible. This is largely because most globalization theorists have neglected to consider the role of media and communications within globalization
  • This causes problems in two ways. First, the role of media and communications in globalization theories remains vague and unspecified. Secondly, media studies missed the ‘big picture’ of globalization and have been contributing little to theoretical discussions on globalization
  • Definitions of globalization formed by theorists do not directly mention media and communications (Ex. Giddens definition of globalization in 1990: As the intensification of world-wide social relations, which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. Although he does not mention media and communications, it is obvious that the worldwide social relations are intensified by them and thus become mostly mediated) (Ex. Thompson (1995): Globalization refers to the growing interconnectedness of different parts of the world, a process which gives rise to complex forms of interaction and interdependency. Again, no direct mentioning of the role of media and communications within globalization.) However, interconnectedness implicitly refers to them

Mediated Globalization

  • Globalization is a process in which worldwide economic, political, cultural and social relations have become increasingly mediated across space and time. This mediation is has taken place increasingly through media and communications
  • Paradox of mediated globalization: At the same time as it connects people, it also distances them
  • This can be by differentiating between mass-mediated and non-mass-mediated experience. Mass-mediated experience is about global experience, whereas non-mass-mediated experience is about local experience. The first distinction is in terms of scale, where there is a sense of community between millions of fellow nationals through mass-mediated, who never meet each other. Secondly, when comparing the nature of the two in terms of global and local community, there is an absence of history of global experience compared to those within local communities. Lastly, mass-mediated consists of quasi-interaction (flow of communication is one-way) which is for the most part monological rather than dialogical (face-to-face interaction). Thus, the media audience remains an audience for mass-mediated globalization, rather than a community

Types of Interaction

Face-to-face Interaction: Takes place in a context of co-presence, is dialogical in character, involves two-way flow of information, and participants employ a multiplicity of symbolic cues.

Mediated Interaction: When interaction is stretches across space and time, which implies that it already contributes to globalization (Ex. Writing letters and telephone conversations).

Mediated Quasi-Interaction: Refers to the social relations established by media of mass communications. In mediated quasi-interaction, symbolic forms are produced for an indefinite range of potential recipients, they are monological in character, in the sense that flow of communication is predominantly one-way.

Outcomes of Global Media

  • According to Sreberny, there are at least THREE generations of media and communication scholars with distinct conclusions about global media based on historical trends
  • Communications and Development / First generation (early 1960s)
  • This was during the cold war era (either you are with the U.S. or Russia)
  • Use of media and communications in developing countries altered attitudes and values (Ex. The transmission of messages through technology of satellite). In fact, McLuhan spoke about this indirectly when speaking about the median in terms of technology, and how it helped the growth of communication throughout the world
  • In turn, media was viewed as power agents of change to maintain power and control of other countries
  • Flow of media and technology strengthens one-way dependency between nations (Ex. Binary models such as the flow of information from the West to East (one-way binary) did exist during this time) (Ex. Developed countries released news about developing countries, depicting them as being disastrous)
  • Thus, international news / press agencies at the time prevented true development, portraying developing nations in negative ways
  • In turn, media was viewed as a powerful threat to independence
  • In turn, there were rise of agencies such as the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO). They crystallized concerns of developing nations. Biased international media coverage
  • However, such news coverages failed to change international views on developing nations 
  • There were hostile reactions from US and UK
  • The third generation consisted of optimistic global pluralists
  • They argued that previous generations were too narrow-minded about media systems in developing countries
  • They argued that audiences are powerful in globalizing media content. Consumers have power because they are not passive, nor cultural dopes that agree with messages that the media feeds us (Ex. We have the power to tune out of some news outlets and use others)

Some problems

  • We seem to be stuck in a cycle of shifts from firm optimism to complete pessimism back to optimism again
  • These shifts are part of an ongoing debate about homogenization and heterogenization


Homogenization/Heterogenization Unfit to Explain Global Media?

  • Homogenization School
  • Neglects power of audience
  • Simplifies identification of media corporations to particular nations
  • Too US-centric (Americanization). Focused on American model of media
  • Too short-sighted and does not consider the potential future of non-western media systems
  • Heterogenization School
  • Too much power given to audience. People have a say in the media they view, but not as much power in it
  • Neglects economic power of global media firms
  • Neglects biggest media companies based in US
  • Neglects inequality of access to media / technology

Hybridity / Indigenization: Refers to a process whereby cultural forms literally move through time and space whether they interact with other cultural forms and settings, influence each other, produce new forms, change cultural settings and produce cultural hybrids. The fusing of cultural forms.


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