Sept 23 Reading Reflection Monroe Price, John Sinclair and Silvio Waistboard

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.


September 23rd Readings

My group is presenting tomorrow. In preparation for the presentation, we ask that you analyze the following themes we drew from the readings:

  • Technology/media and its relationship with the nation-state and its relationship with the global state?
  • The control of space and time in the media?
  • Who are the winners and the losers in globalization?

Week 4 Reflection on Price, Waisbord

  1. In the “New Role of the State” Media and Sovereignty, Price made the argument that media have been central to government efforts to reinforce sovereignty and define national identity, but globalization is fundamentally altering media practices and institutions by technological or geopolitical determinism. He also conclude that even though the media market is so powerful, technology so ubiquitous, there still a passion for moral controls, “for regulation of indecency, and for restoring some sense of an order and security.” (Price, p. 29)  This world is now requires every country to design a new boundary technologies that controlling over the internal space, specifically, to create diasporic boundaries, not only affects political boundaries but media boundaries, in order to redefine the nation’s identity. 
  2. Waisbord, in Media and Reinvention of the Nation, also discussed how nations use the media as a means of building identity and unity. Specifically, how he mentioned the developments of “internal” and “external” to the nation have changed the environment that originally gave birth to ideas and policies about media and nation building. the idea how globalization influenced the “external” actually changed the traditional role of media, as it “dismantling barriers to cross-border flows of capital and information.” (Waisbord, p. 388) The crisis of the “internal” also remarkable since media spillovers and trade across political boundaries. Neither globalization nor multiculturalism has delivered a deadly blow to national cultures, which allows media do much to define the nation’s identity. 
  3. In addition, I personally want to question how the commercial media influence nation’s moral identity? 


The readings from this week all converged into the debate of “media globalization” vs. “media patriotism”. They all made me think about how countries in Latin America, specifically those who adhere to the “Socialism of the 21st Century” ideology, exploit these two concepts as opposites and, through antagonizing and the constant use of “cultural imperialism”, utilize “media patriotism” to advance their own interests. In this sense, I would argue that the concept of nation-state is still fully alive within the context of globalization, precisely because of it. The global media network emphasizes the differences that exist in how it is perceived from place to place, so that those countries that have sought to control and regulate the media, oftentimes with the argument of resisting cultural imperialism, have ended up being regarded as more autocratic. The Middle Eastern countries are another example of this. But, back to Latin America, it is interesting that they use the same means that they criticize– Western communication technologies, strategies, and networks– to strengthen their political discourses in favor of a national identity. In this sense, how is one to perceive their contradictions in the way they deal with the media? On the one hand, they fully recognize its impact and thus seek to regulate it. On the other, they seek to demonize it when it doesn’t serve their state-centered interests.

In this sense, is embracing a “media patriotism” a way to fall behind and isolate oneself from the currents of globalization? Does embracing globalization mess with one’s own cultural identity? The example of Western TV programs come to mind. Some reject them because they believe they will be detrimental to the national identity. But how to deal with this issue when the youngest generations are already growing up with such a technological arsenal with access to globalized tendencies and products that they see no contradiction in feeling like they belong to their countries and to international currents as well? In this sense, for example, there has been a hot debate in Ecuador regarding this issue. The Law of Communication now makes it mandatory for all TV stations (and Radio stations as well) to transmit nationally produced content, gradually, until it will reach 50% of all the content emitted. Although the immediate goal is to propagate domestic products and stimulate local artists, the regulation failed to take into account that this will be a complex objective to reach due to the fact that most content transmitted in Ecuador is international and that there is a very low offer of locally produced programs. Add to this the issue of quality in those programs, and the existing patterns of consumption, which are already accustomed to certain shows and media products. Finally, this law also fails to accept the diversity of the public, of whom a percentage is actually a fan of globalized media. In the attempt to preserve and promote local culture, what is lost in terms of globalization?

Finally, another concept that attracted my attention was that of the technologies for freedom. My question about it is this: in a world where the globalized mediascape acts through technology, are we more or less free? Are we able to build more democracy or less democracy? With the knowledge that we are monitored and controlled, do we feel like playing our part in the mediascape is the best we’ve got to challenge those aspects in which we desire to make our voice heard? Do we feel like we can relate to the concept of technologies for freedom? And if we do, how are we using or are planning on using this in our professional futures for precisely what its name calls us for: freedom?


Week 4 Reflection

My group will be presenting these readings tomorrow. Here are some points that we brainstormed together:

– Waisborn states: “The media plays a crucial role in bringing together disparate populations under the same cultural roof.” How does this play a part in ideas of nationalism?

– Sinclair states: “… advent of international institutions to coordinate the common interest of national governments on a world scale.” Since governments with the money and power to build such large institutions, they become the senders of information. Does this inherently leave out narratives of developing nations?

– As technology changes, so does the media landscape that the laws that regulate it. In areas where media regulation is limited or nonexistent, how do reporters, journalists, etc find ways to ensure freedom of speech and expression?

Reflection Blog #4

The evolution of the state’s role in society using and obstructing new forms of media technology was a stimulating topic, especially after reading this week’s chapters and articles. Globalization has, inevitably, changed the way states seek to retain their autonomy, by refocusing their power to influence public opinions. Instead of completely dissipating or banning certain international media streams from entering their countries, most governments have sought new ways to infiltrate foreign media companies, by buying advertisement spots or increasing competition. Based on Media and Sovereignty, the role of globalization has promoted convergence, established a more literate middle class, and increased the laws that promote global stability. Will new communication standards expand the space between the underdeveloped and developed nations, or further illicit more conversation and solutions while maintaining social order?

Silvio Waisboard argues that the media maintains a nation’s cultural identity because it continuously makes cultural forms available, it also constructs a shared cultural identity, and institutionalizes culture itself. How does this explain nations that don’t have the media resources that developed nations have, but still retain tribal and communal identities? Will the lack of communication resources continue to isolate these groups, or become a subversive act in retaining their culture?

Does “global culture” even exist, or is it a mask term to call cultural imperialism, especially since very wealthy nations control communication networks, thus, giving them the power to influence culture in the global south?

Week Four: Nations, Sovereignty, & Transnational Institutions

Reflections for this week:

1. Right at the beginning of the Price reading on the “New Role of the State,” he introduced the idea of states either vying for control, regulation, or “mastery” in the market for speech. What came to mind is not what I think Price intended by mastery, I think his use of that term implied total control by the state in citizens’ access to media and ideas. However, it made me think of our own media practices in the U.S. and the subtle “mastery” of media via CNN.
(When I performed searches to find out if CNN or Time Warner contributed to the Obama campaign to even out the above reporting, all I found was stories run by CNN about Obama’s campaign fundraising.)

I’m not going to argue here that CNN is implicitly owned by the U.S. Government or a partisan organization, what I will say is that CNN is the de facto news source supreme in the United States for a few verifiable reasons: a) CNN film and media techniques are the most visually stimulating and dynamic; b) by becoming the first 24-hour news source they have become perceived as the most relevant news source; c) they subtly undercut the legitimacy of fringe media (such as news sources on Reddit) that performs their own fact-checking; d) due to the latter, other ‘respectable’ news sources are forced to find a way to keep up with them, by mimicking their news model. In doing so, they direct the national debate. American Idol and Dancing with the Stars aside, people generally talk about what they’ve seen reported on CNN, or their more partisan counterparts Fox News and MSNBC. The primetime CNN news-shows generally ask hot-topic questions (inquiring minds want to know) and report what was said about a subject rather than reporting facts they have verified in-house. Most Americans who follow news on international or domestic levels then concern themselves with the questions CNN presents: Should the U.S. strike Syria or not? Rather than: Where are the storehouses of Syria’s chemical weapons? What would be the collateral damage in terms of human lives lost? What would be the potential damage to the Syrian economy? Is there a non-violent alternative? In asking a one-dimensional, yes-or-no question that easily grabs the attention of most people CNN can ensure that more people are likely to watch and stay engaged, thereby boosting ratings, purchasing power, and significant communication power in the market for loyalties.

Whether on behalf of the USG or no, CNN has effectively “mastered” the US media scene, and no one can truly claim that they did it in a “free and fair” market economy.

2. What is Hulu and Netflicks had their own media programs?
– Who would such programs ‘answer’ to?
– Who would be the target audience?
– What would be the ‘bottom line’ goal for such programming?
– Where would the funding come from?

3. In Waisboard’s review of “The Persistence of the National,” he posits a) that Nationalism as a human need is not going anywhere and b) that ‘Cosmopolitanism’ lacks a basis for a global culture.

John Zogby recently wrote a book called “First Globals: Understanding, Managing, and Unleashing our Millenial Generation” and presented it around D.C., including the State Department where I first heard about it, and AU campus (see attachment).zogby I have not read this book, but he posits some interesting statistics regarding the world-view of people born after 1979. He says that most American “First Globals” as he calls this generation (the Millenial Generation technically begins 1984 – goodbye Generation Y) believe it is beneficial for them to learn a second or third language, that they anticipate working and living abroad, and that they see their community on a global scale.

In Waisboard’s argument about the lack of global culture, he sites some of the fundamentals needed to build a community as “common symbols,” “shared history,” “ingrained sense of historical experience,” “temporal continuity,” and “shared memories.” I would argue that First Globals indeed share the common memory of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and share memories of rites of passage: our first experiences abroad; our first experiences in international work settings; and the events that sparked our interest in international affairs. These shared experiences create a new form of shared history and shared ideals. This suggests that the mindset or approach to values of a newer, cosmopolitan generation is more forward-looking – we seek community with those people who share values about the future rather than those who share values about the past. There have always been communities of people brought together by forward-looking values, they are normally referred to in terms of ‘revolution,’ and do not normally constitute the majority of any one group. If true and verifiable, this would be a significant change in the majority of an American generation – people grouped by age, rather than by locality, workplace, or socio-economic determinants.

I don’t know how this theory would be verified, necessarily, but the research would prove telling, either way.