This week reading is swamps with theories on globalization and the role of media in the formation of nation states. The two author Sinclair and Waistboard presented theories and make the recommendation in the conclusion part on how to handle the upcoming challenges made by globalization and globalized media system.
- First of all, in Sinclair’s article, he tried to define the term globalization with Arjun Appadurai’s definition- globalization is unlimited flow of people, media, technology, capital and ideas around the world but he argued that these flows are disjunctive or not depended on each other. While other theorists tended toward cultural homogenization, particularly “Americanization”, Arjun ‘s views is more of proliferation of cultural fusion or “hybridity”, which means global culture would be absorbed and adapted into the host cultures.
Another aspect of globalization is deterritorialization – in which the modern day media found no boundaries to make impact to people around the world. Example given is the growing prevalence of international satellite televisions that allows people to receive daily news from countries of their origins and their home become a virtual reality.
Next, it was Anthony Giddens who emphasize the idea of “time-space distanciation”, in which spread of capital nation states, transnational corporation, rise of military order and industrial division of labor, which are all mechanisms of modernity have become global in these days.
Afterwards, Michael Richards and David French’s concept provide the conceptual framework for thoughts on globalization dividing it into three dimension: structural, ideological and empirical. First, there are always political economics structures as in supranational corporation and non government organizations. Second, ideologies on globalization are propagated by corporate interest groups as World Economics Forum and finally, there is empirical dimension of globalization, which can be observed as a process. It is noticeable for Marjorie Ferguson’s argument that in globalization age, the bigger is better (as in corporate merger) and more is better (as in television channels).
In amidst of optimisms, Doreen Massy’s “power geometry” has cautions on globalization which said “there are always winner and losers, the globalizers and globalized. Now-a-days, physical location in space does not matter anymore but location in social hierarchies, notably class and gender, continues to be determinant.” It reflect the Appadurai’s critical point “One man’s imagined community is another man’s political prison.”
- In Waistbaord’s article “Media and Reinvention of nations”, he argued the validity of nationalism as the foundation of nations building. As nationalists believe nationalism provide unity in the nation states as well as segmentation on some states. One idea suggests that political centralization is the reason for nation States to emerge which eliminate the differences and impose the different language, religions and traditions into one homogenous identity. But, the other idea reject the former one showing nations and nationalism already exist before the process of political centralization while there are countries that cannot be merged into a common culture despite the presence of political centralization. Both ideas accept the importance of social institutions like education institutions, civics society and media.
Waistboard article vividly retold the history of mass media in parallel with history of formation of modern nation states. First, the birth of mass media has begun in first decades of 19th century in United States and European countries with growing number of printed literature among bourgeois circles. But in the latter decades, followed by rising levels of literacy coupled with technological developments in print, photography and the design has changed the conditions. The rise of consumerism and advertising has played important role to fuel the newly form media industry. At the turn of 20th century, the coming of film and radio technologies has expanded the media resourcing in shaping the national cultures. The massification of film and radio products makes literacy no longer a requirement nor distances an impediment in formation of national consciousness.
Among the theorist, Ernest Gellner debates the role of nationalism in creation of nation states by citing the experiences of European nations that although many pre modern ethnic groups were precursors to modern day European nations, some nations were just created during the modern era. He argued that elaborate nation state systems together with markets, industrialization, divisions of labor and social mobility are incorporating the people into a news socioeconomic order. However, in most arguments, discussing the role of media in state building was minimal due to the birth of mass media has just started and low literacy and technological limitations.
In a whole, Gellner stated that media played a crucial role by bring together disparate population under the same cultural roof.
Another theorist, Benedict Anderson, has influential works that marked media as nation builder in which the media are at the center of nations, as he discussed, or imagined communities. He cites the examples of formation of post colonial Latin American nations with the crucial role of printed media.
- In Sinclair’s article, the rise of Supranational organizations UN, World Bank, WTO is seen as the precursor of world controlling body although many of these organizations are struggling with criticisms for perusing the agenda identified with rich countries and global corporations. Other examples of conflicts interests, supranational organization like Amnesty International and Greenpeace, often confront the sensitive issues that led the people choose between the interests of national government and global corporations and interests of humanity as a whole.
UNESCO is described as the classic case which dedicated for peaceful purposes and world development but disrupted by conflicts of interests between member states. For UNESCO’s commitment to liberal principle of “free flow” of information across borders was seen as grantee for diffusion of Western models of live and cultural values through the media, 77 countries of non aligned movement demanded a “New World Information and Communication Order” and won the vote to shift UNESCOs news principle as “a free and balanced flow”. But it came at the cost of withdrawal of United States and United Kingdom in 1985 and 1986 respectively, leaving the organization in debate on freedom of press versus the rights of government to control information flows. The absence of two major powers weakens UNESCO not only by its legitimacy and representativeness but also by financial contributions. This is best example of how far supranational organizations can go even with benign purposes.
In discussing the business sector, as international corporation extend their presence around the world, their ownership has become interpenetrated with other companies and their operations more decentralized, which Lash & Urry referred as “disorganized capitalism”.
At first, mostly American companies like Coca Cola have paved this way but more recently followed by European and Japanese companies. He argues that it was Sony that initiate the steps of truly “glocalization”, the tailoring of global products for differentiated local markets with the fusion is finely managed so that products appear in the marketplace without the evidence of their ultimate national provenance in Japan.
According to Sinclair, the rise of global corporations is an entity to globalization which is made possible by a range of technological developments, particularly the convergence of media with telecommunications. In these days, the regulation of media industries, that permitted the wide-scale privatization of TV systems and private-public ownership of TV satellite has paved way for a culture revolution where TVs has become the most implicated medium in facilitating the culture for globalization.
Sinclair predicted that the merger of cable, satellite and internet services can be expected to intensify in the future, particularly with technological advantages of digital television and commercial advantages of subscription services on direct-to-home basis.
In Global culture: Another Layer of Complexity, Peter Golding summarized the trends associated with the emergence of a global culture. First, the decline of nation as a cultural force (as well as economic and political one) relative to supranational influences. Second, the growth of supranational organizations is occurring not only above nation state but also below it that is at the local level. Third, the diffusion of global culture is facilitated by “syndicalization of experience” in the form of globalized consumer goods and the role of dominant world languages.
Sinclair reasoned that the decline of nation states as cultural force as well as economic and political is seen for two reasons: first, increased movement of people across border caused more culturally and linguistically pluralistic populations in all nations where diverse population can retain stronger ties to the language and culture of their origin and second, the concept of national culture fall into disrepute as national cultures are now criticized as the preferred culture of the dominant strata, not the nation as a whole.
I feel enlighten and adored to define the culture from the new perspective. Traditional concept of culture is rooted in terms of the “organic” way of live of a certain people fixed in a certain place. Now, culture seems more about people on the move, a form of adaption to displacement and changing circumstances and always “hybrid” rather than “pure”.
In the new definition of culture, the diasporas of people ethnic groups play major role in dispersing and shaping a global culture, in which “oversea Chinese and Indians”, created global social networks which can be thought as “third tier” of supranational connections, after global organizations and nation-states.
In additions, commonalities of language and culture will also play important role in shaping a common culture, especially in the case with English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, countries with historical relationships of colonization will seen as closer ties among other nations of different language and cultures.
In Cultural Homogenization subtitle, syndicalization of experience, defined by Golding, can be seen as the spread of globally branded consumer goods around the world and a new modern culture of consumerism being integrated to it. Export of consumerism is the return of cultural imperialism, in Sinclair’s striking smile, it is like an unwelcome guest thrown out of party but sneak around and come back in the back.
Besides, Sinclair also talked about trade zones such as EU, NAFTA, MErcosur and APEC as precursor of globalized trade without tax barriers.
In conclusion, Sinclair noted that together with the rise of global corporations, the movement of media and people across border, the drive to free drive, supranational organizations are yet to replace the nation state. It remains as effective unit of economic, political and socio cultural authority in the world, while struggling with supranational organizations above it and plurality of social and cultural differences opened up below it. He also noted that nation states have differences in wealth, strength and prestige as well as receptiveness toward globalization.
For these reasons, Sinclair recommended that nation states should ensure that it fulfills its responsibilities in mediating globalization rather than throwing itself under the juggernaut’s wheel.