GLOBAL FLOWS OF
COMMUNICATION
Theoretical Approach 3
MEVIT3220/ 4220
Media and Globalisation
Carol Azungi, 25 November 2007
Introduction:The lecture in a nutshell
 The 21stC mediascape is characterised by multi-vocal,
multimedia, multi-dimentional flows of information and
communication
 In today´s digitally connected globe, flows of all kinds of
info. Circulate around the world at a speed unimaginable
even a decade ago
 A shift from state-centric & national views of media to one
defined by consumer interests and transnational
markets:key factor in expansion &acceleration of media
flows
 What does this mean?
 Explanation of main concepts
 Counter arguments
 Theoretical extrapolates
 Examples from the curriculum
Ponder during lecture
Has globalisation increased western
cultural influence or triggered the
possibilities of other flows?
What is the role of media ownership in
determining the flow of information and
communication?
Introducing some of the
Concepts
Mapping out the main concepts that
have characterised global flow of
communication studies over the past 30
years.
Some of the the concepts and
arguments developed in the 1970s and
1980s still influence current debates in
global flow/ globalisation.
Media Flows
Media Flows- concept developed by a series
of empirical studies in the 1970s and 80s.
The research claimed the existence of
unbalanced, unidirectional flows of TV
programmes and foreign news from the
“centre” to the “periphery” (Kaarle,
Nordnstreng & Tapio Varis 1974 study “TV
Traffic- A One-Way Street: A survey and
Analysis of the International Flow of
Television Programme Material. UNESCO
Cultural Imperialism
Cultural Imperialism- popularised by
Jeremy Tunstall who described this term as a
situation in which “authentic traditional, local
culture…is being battered out of existence by
the indiscrimate dumping of large quantities
of slick commercial and media products,
mainly from the US “The Media are American:
Anglo-American Media in the World (1977:
57).
Media Imperialism
Media Imperialism-developed within a
broader analysis of cultural imperialism and
dependency theories. Oliver Boyd-Barret
defined it as “the process whereby the
ownership, structure, distribution of content
of the media in any one country are singly or
together subject to substantial external
pressures from the media interests of any
other country or countries without
proportionate reciprocation of influence by
the country so affected (1977: 117)
US film imports % (1998)
Isreal
India
Australia
Germany
Hong Kong
Italy
Japan
Mexico
Russia
France
Spain
80
72
72
69
66
64
60
59
59
57
55
Ecuador
Barbados
Costa Rica
Gabon
Zimbabwe
Cyprus
Sri Lanka
Syria
Madagascar
Lebanon
99.5
97.8
95.9
94.5
90.2
88.8
88.5
86.1
84.2
83.0
Feature film exports (UNESCO)
Country 1968 1978 1988 1998
France
Germany
Spain
UK
Poland
Mexico
Brazil
Indonesia
Hong Kong
Japan
South Korea
Thailand
Egypt
South Africa
USA
117
107
117
88
22
90
47
8
156
494
219
64
40
12
180
160
57
104
54
36
63
101
81
135
326
117
150
51
19
240
137
57
63
40
30
112
88
84
139
265
87
60
52
617
183
119
65
108
14
7
40
15
92
249
43
30
16
10
661
Read about responses
EU Media Policies and Structures
Television without boarders
Support for film industry
Challenges
Hollywood hegemony
Language
Nationalism
Regionalism
Counter Arguments /
Concepts
 Contra-flows - countries once thought as major
“clients” of media imperialism such as Mexico,
Canada, Brazil have successfully exported their
programmes and personnel into the “Centre”. Mexico
(Televisa Group), Brazil (TV Globo), Canada
(CanWest) now export TV programmes and music to
the countries all over the world.
 Regionalism- there is now greater exchange of
news, TV programmes, print media, music between
regions, e.g. DSTV (South Africa), Nollywood
(Nigeria), Bollywood (India), Star TV (Hong Kong), Al
Jazeera (Qatar), EuroNews (EU). Exchange of cultural
products has also increased in Scandinavia.
Counter Arguments /
Concepts
 Localisation - local programmes remain popular and
attract large audiences. People prefer to watch their
own locally made programmes.
 Glocalisation / Hybridity- term popularised by
British sociologist Roland Robertson in the 1990s and
later developed by Zygmunt Bauman. This is
characterised by the global-local interaction, by
cultural fusion as a result of adaptation of Western
media genres to suit local cultures and languages.
For example, US generic models (e.g. soaps, sitcoms,
action movies) have invited domestic imitation based
on the country´s cultural and social realities.
Counter arguments contd...
Alternative media
community media: from the margins to the cutting edge
 Address the digital divide: access, voice for the
voiceless
 Platform/spaces for civic engagement and expression
 Internal flows of communication (devcom:
endogenous community, local culture, indigenous
knowledge etc)
Internet as alternative media enabling reversal of flows
(see youtube.com, myspace and other people-centric
channels, suggestions?)
Determinants of reversal of
global flows





Post-Fordist mode of production
New technology (satellite, internet)
Changing patterns in geo-politics
Deregulation of the media
Growth of “diasporic communities” in the West see India´s Zee
Tv watched by second generation British Asians, Chinese TV
channel Phoenix and the pan-Arabic entertainment network
MBC are examples of media representing what may be labeled
as geo-cultural flows aimed at largely a diasporic pop.(Thussu,
2007, 14)
Dimensions of Global Flow
Another influential study on global flows is one
developed by Arjun Appadurai in the early 1990s
He identified 5 different dimensions of global flows:
Ethnoscapes - landscape of people who
constitute our shifting world, e.g tourists,
immigrants, refugees,
Technscapes - the fluidity of technology (similar
to the network society concept)
Finascapes- movement of currency markets and
money, across boundaries
Mediascapes - distribution of electronic
capabilities to produce & disseminate news
Ideascapes- movement of political ideas and
images, e.g. “freedom” “rights” “democracy”.
Theoretical Approaches influencing international
communication
- Concerns of the times
- Emergence of theories of communication parallel to socioeconomic changes of the IR
- Communication part of the ”organic Society” where each part
played a role in the functioning of the whole (Road
infrastructure, credit system and communication-postal,
telegram, press) the nervous system, channel for the centre to
”propagate its influence” to the outermost parts (Thussu, 2000,
54).
- 20th C, theories reflected the political, economic, technological
developments of the time and their impact on the social and
cultural…
- The critical theories have also dwelt on the patterns of
ownership and production in the media and communication
industries (particularly the commodification of communication
and its impact on inequalities
Some of the theoretical approaches
Free Flow of Information
Modernisation theory
Dependency theory
Structural imperialism
Hegemony
Critical theory
IS and discourses of globalisation
Free Flow of Information
 After the second world war and the establishment of a bipolar world of free market capitalism and state socialism,
theories of international communication flows became part
of the new cold war discourse
 The concept Free Flow represented western, especially US
antipathy to state regulation, censorship and the use of
media for propaganda by its communist opponents
 The free Flow was a liberal, free market discourse that
championed rights of media propriators to sell where ever
and what ever they wanted.
 The free flow therefore served economic and political
purposes. Here, media organisations of rich countries could
dissuade other from erecting trade barriers to their products
or from making it difficult to gather news from their
territories
 Their arguments drew on premises of democracy, FOX,
media role as watchdogs and their assumed global
relevance.
 For their compatriot businessmen, “free flow” assisted them
in advertising and marketing their goods in foreign markets
through media vehicles that championed the western way of
life, capitalist values and individualism
Modernisation theory
(see Lerner 1958, Schramm, 1964)
 Complementary to the doctrine of ”Free FLow” was the view
that international communication, key to development in the
third world
 International mass comm could be used to spread the
message of modernity transfer economic, political models of
the west to the newly independent countries of the south
 Western ways (power, wealth, skill, rationality etc) seem as a
stimuli for development and a bridge to a wider world
Critism:
 Top-down approach
 Narrow approaches
 Media are not neutral force (they have economic, political,
social attachements and political power in hands of few)
 Modern (western) and traditional are not mutually exclusive
(see Freira 1970)
Dependency theories
Emerged in Latin America in late 1960s
early 1970s in opposition of modernisation
theory, need for alternative approaches,
from the south
Cultural imperialism/media ”imperialism”
from dominance of western cultural
products especially hollywood (Schiller,
1976)
Critism
They offer no tangible solutions
Structural Imperialism (Galtung 1971)
Notions of centre and periphery
Forwards Castells notions of space of flows
i.e. harmony of interest between the core
of the centre nations and the centre in the
periphery nations (p83)
The centre-periphery relationships are
maintained and reinforced by information
flows and reproduction of economic
activities. These create institutional links
that serve the interests of the dominant
groups.
Hegemony (Gramsci 1891-1937)
The role of ideology and state power in the
capitalist society
The dominant social group/nation has the
capacity to excercise intellectual and moral
direction over society or others and builds
a new system of alliances to support its
aims-Gramsci-this happens when this
group excersise control over mass media,
schools, religion etc
The dominant class then coersively
imposses its will on subodinate classes
Critical theory (Adono, 1903)
”Cultural Industries” production of culture
as a commodity by the capitalist societies
as enmass
This lead to standadization resulting into
mass culture leading to the deterioration of
other cultures
Forum for propagating capitalism
ideologies and thinking among recipients
These debates have greatly influenced
debates of thee Global flow of information
and communication
Theories of the IS
Innovations in ICTs especially computing
and their rapid global expansion has led to
claims that this is an IS
Speed, volumes, costs influencing global
flows
Covergence of telecoms with computing
creating new infomation and
communication flows between states,
between business and among (ordinary)
people
Cases from the curriculum
 “Miss World Going `Deshi`: Addressing an Indian
television audience with a global media product” by
Nobert Wildermuth (in Media in a Globalised Society
ed. By Stig Hjarvard, pp 207-253
 “National Prisms of a Global `Media event`” by ChinChuan Lee et al (in Mass Media and Society ed James
Curran et al, pp 320-333
 “The Whole World is Watching: Online Surveillance of
Social Movement Organizations” by Sasha CostanzaChock (in Who Owns the Media? Global Trends and
Local Resistance ed by Pradip Thomas et al, pp 271292)
Case Study 1
Miss World 1996 in Bangalore
http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/9611/23/miss.world/miss.world.28sec.mov
Controversial tv program: Cultural assault Vs
foreign capital flow, show casing Indian culture
Events:
Four bombs weeks before the contest
Calls for boycott
Peaceful demonstrations
Feminists promise to set themselves on fire
15 Nov-8 days before the show, Kumar Suresh committes
self-immolation
Beach wear round (Nov 6-11) moved to
Seychelles
Miss Personality (Nov 9) moved out of
Bangalore for security purposes
Appeal to High court to ban show (culture
and heritage)
Karnataka Supreme Court asks show to be
mornitored to ensure conditions are met
(alchohol and decency, laws of the land etc)only after an affidavit from organisers
Final day (Nov 23) 24hour Bangalore bandh
(general strike by BJP
Despite the strikes:
2.5 billion tv viewers world wide
200million Indians (poll results)
120 countries
Article explores the following issues:
Protesters misjudgement and reflections on
paternistic media consumption
Process of hybridisation as part of India´s
glocalisation efforts
Conflicts between the local and the global
Ideological “fights” over the meaning of
India´s culture (cultural imperialism)
Competing visions of national identity
Contested representation of gender (the
traditional Indian woman vs. the “modern”
Indian woman).
Case Study 2
Coverage of the handover by the UK of Hong
Kong to the People´s Republic of China in
1997.
1842-1997 marking the end of 150 colonial rule
Media spectacle: 8000 journalists, 776 media
organisations and several national ideological
struggles between east and west, capitalism and
socialism, democracy and authoritarianism etc
Western media and national ideologies
(fear and doubt)
US representing itself as the guardians of
democracy (Tiananmen crackdown,
question of Tibet and HK seen as a target
of abuse and negative influence)
Britain: Imperial nostalgia
Australia/Canada: significance of HK to
china, defence of America
Japan: Economic interests
Chinese media and national ideologies
(chinese jingoism)
3 major media giants, common policy, access to
pro-china HK sources
Patriotism, emotions
(common ancenstry, family centredness and the final
process of reunifying Macao and Taiwan)
End of 150 years of national humiliation (Deng Xiaoping,
the paramount leader and ingenious author of the “one
country, 2 systems” and how chinese heroes beat British
imperialists villains. Ignore
China´s military-national strength
Hong Kong media
Identified with chinese culture but rejects their
communist system.
Reminiscence of the positive British presence
especially cultural but not the political
Taiwan media
Endorse British decolonisation while rejecting
China´s nationalism branding it as hegemonic and
expansionist
Articles raises the following:
International news-making (foreign news) still
determined by “domestic” and “national”
interests.
Promotion of “national interests” in a global
news story
Discursive struggles in international news
making
What it means to be Chinese - cultural and
national meanings of identity (global Chinese
communities)
National triumph vs. Western imperialism
Case Study 3
 Social Movements and new communication technologies
 USA Patriot Act 2001 allows:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glTzekPGLCo&feature=PlayList&p=E8356527487842BA&index=0
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


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Expanded wire taps
Secret searches
Information sharing among agencies
Access to voice mail
Interception of electronic communication (like e-mails)
Credit card numbers, Tel. numbers
IP addresses
Search warrants for emails
Access to records of meetings, sessions etc
Some examples...
US
Seattle Protests
Palestine.indymedia.org
Somalian Internet
Consequences
Vulnerability to selective prosecution
Persistant data
Chilling effect
Delegitimation of social movements
Climate of fear
Disruption of work
Deterrrence of legitimate political
expression and activism
Article raises the following issues:
Use of internet for broader movement coalition
building across national boundaries.
Multidimensional flow as opposed to one-way
diffusion of information (social movement
interaction)
US surveillance of social movements
organisations (Big Brother watching?).
New technologies also curtails the SMOs (U,S
govt uses different kinds of surveillance
techniques).
Questions for Discussion /
Reflection
 In light of new developments in global and national
media, is the concept of “media imperialism still
relevant?
 What forms of “glocalisation” / “Hybridity” can you
perceive in your own country?
 Despite the reversal of cultural flows from the North
to the South, why do you think US cultural products
(TV, Films, books) still dominate?
Announcements
8 November: Dag´s lecture on Hollywood and
Globalization
Undelivered term papers should be delivered
to Sarah today after the lecture
Lin Prøitz PhD Defence
 trial lecture on the 1st of Nov., 17:15, auditorium
4, Eilert Sundts hus, A.
Disputas 2. november 09:15 i theologisk
eksamenssal, domus academica, sentrum
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GLOBAL FLOWS OF COMMUNICATION Theoretical …