Why Globalization Still Matters

This is a term that has been popularized–and perhaps overused by the media advocates today.  Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has written several books about his elation and infatuation with the current trend.  Developing countries take a strong stand against Western hegemony that is impeding their own respective growths.  For the practitioner of international communication, the value of globalization lies in the fact that it has not only made the world flat, but also shrinking to the point where borders no longer define cultures and therefore do not pose communicative barriers.  One aspect, which I deem essential for practitioners, is the extension of networks.

Taken from a passage in the Hanson reading, the global network is characterized as the “meganet” which involves a “patchwork of networks, big and small, local and global, primitive and high tech, that fit together because they use compatible technologies”.  The facilitation of communication across borders through technology has changed our culture tremendously.  Our own government, once inclined to monopolize communication services, has responded to this trend in recent years by encouraging competition among rivaling service providers.  A big takeaway is that globalization continues to influence our culture of doing business, whether it’s a commercial or public entity.  It is also impossible predict how integrated our society will become as a result.

Globalization

1) What does globalization theory still provide that is useful for practitioners of international communication?

Globalization still provides a general overview of understanding the interconnectivity of different cultures especially through the ever increasing mediatization of our daily lives. While no longer a new concept, understand of globalization (and the definition of the word) continue to evolve and grow as different forms of media shape international communication. A decade ago, the use of social media in a drastically different place than it is today and as social media has changed so too has the general understanding of globalization. I would argue that globalization as a theory is somewhat dated, but is still an important concept in understanding how different groups of people interact. Globalization theory takes for granted the privilege aspect that we discussed in class, and for me, this is the theory’s biggest flaw. From a point of privilege, globalization seems like a wonderful concept, but for others, it is another form of exploitation. I think the theory is still important especially in relation to the use of the internet because there are so many more opportunities to watch different tv shows or read different news when there is more interconnection between countries.

Globalization: Global and Local

In Jade Miller’s article “Ugly Betty goes global” Miller demonstrates the modern shift of globalization theory through the global viewing of the telenovela Betty La Fea or Ugly Betty. In the article she concludes “The popularity of telenovelas lies in the telenovela formula: a mix of globally resonant archetypes and a structure of specific localizable elements (characters, locations, social environments, etc.).” With this statement, I believe Miller highlights why globalization is useful for practioners of international communication. Practioners need to establish a line between what is globally resonant and what is locally resonant because understanding global similarities and local differences could enable more successful communication between states. For example, it is crucial that the states of the world work together on issues such as climate change, the spread of disease, financial crises, and natural disasters. However, it is also important that state leaders regionally communicate and localize these issues because climate change will impact London, England and Charleston, South Carolina in different ways and will have different preparations and cultural implications.

Globalization is shrinking the world. Never before have so many linkages existed between the world’s states, but as Miller points out, it has not only created a global culture, but has reemphasized regional cultures. All international communication practicioners must keep this in mind when tackling global issues.

Week 5 reflection by Yuyang

Week 5

  • What does globalization theory still provide that is useful for practitioners of international communication.

Globalization today is no longer an exciting and fresh term that change our perception about the world. In fact, globalization may become an increasingly banal idea that many will not study for it any more. However, I will argue that it is exactly because we get used to globalization and accept it as the most common ground of our daily life as well as academic theory, globalization theory still provide the theoretical ground for most academic fields, including international communication. It is as what we discussed in the class that globalization makes international communication a different one than it used to be. When people can engage with different cultures and different people across the boundary easily, the way of our perception about international communication is no longer restricted to a small part of population that has privilege to travel around and not only to the world presented in traditional media.

However, it is also dangerous to assume that globalization fundamentally makes the international communication today different than it used to be. It is because that in countries that are not developed as fast as others, there are still people who do not get as much as privilege from globalization and thus do not actually involve in international communication as much as we imagine. There is still a dominance of well-developed Western countries in international communication field today, as shown by the populace of Hollywood and the authority of Western media.

Globalization in our Modernizing World

Although many would argue that there is no consistent theory of globalization, Colin Sparks points out, “that globalization [simply] means greater interconnectedness and action at a distance.”

Regardless of the distinctions and paradigms used to explain globalization, the simple definition provides an explanation for the increased homogeneity and heterogeneity of our modernizing global society. Homogeneity takes form through easier access to goods and cultural elements no longer bound by their national borders. For example, although avocados and coffee beans are agricultural crops that are only capable of being produced in certain climates, increased globalization has permitted these produce to become common in the diets of people around the globe. In addition to regional food crossing borders, music and fashion are other elements of regional/local culture that are capable of crossing oceans, adapting and contributing to an increasingly homogenized culture.

However, on the other hand, many of the local products, foods, and customs that make their way across the globe endure subtle changes in order to be incorporated and accepted into the community they are attempting to penetrate. This glocalization, occurs because of sustained heterogeneous cultures. From this perspective, rather than the individuals adapting to newly incorporated global goods, the global goods are adapted to suit local customs. This phenomenon reinforces the fact that people raised in different cultures are actually different and have different tastes.

Globalization has also contributed to an increased importance of local culture. Increased importation and exportation of goods across the world, mean that it is often more difficult for producers to maintain success in their own local markets.  This has created increased heterogeneity across cultures–in some circumstances–in an effort to revert back to tradition.

While the basic globalization theory merely states that people are now connecting on an increasingly global level, the field of international communication delves into what makes those connections possible and contributes to the pursuit of deeper, more efficient, and more meaningful connections.

Sparks, Colin. “What’s Wrong with Globalization?” Global Media and Communication (2007): 135.

Silently Flooding My Everyday- the Media’s Role in Nationalism

Our class readings about nationalism and the media have enabled me to rethink where and when nationalism is a part of my daily life and how the media has guided they way in which I perceive this nation.

In Michael Skey’s The Mediation of Nationhood: Communicating the World as a World of Nations, Skey presents various frameworks that have helped me to better understand the link between nationalism and the media in every day life. Three of his frameworks included media’s role in establishing the “national order of things”, providing “ontological security,” and setting “acceptable limits.”  Skey explains that the media provides us with a national order, a routine of programming that provides us with “shared ritual practice[s]” that “fuel our everyday habits… [and] conversations.” These shared practices consequently provide us with a sense of who we are as Americans and an “ontological security” or a “general familiarly with everything.” This routine and security then provide the media with the authority to establish acceptable limits for how long something is news.

With this framework for understanding media and nationalism, I now recognize that it silently floods my everyday. I look to the media to understand what I need to be concerned about and for how long. It gives me cues on the status the country- are the jobs numbers increasing this month? What is our economic outlook? Will we have to intervene in the Middle East?  The way in which the media depicts these and other current events will inform my nationalistic or patriotic feelings toward the county, and until now, I didn’t fully realize the way in which informed these feelings.

Thus, with my these thoughts in mind, I have come to the conclusion that media, despite the increase in communication outlets, continues to play a role in sustaining nationalism. I believe this because, despite the numerous ways in which we can retrieve information, the news media is still covering many of the same stories that provide our nation with a consistent sense of what is going on, how long it has been going on for, and how long we should care about it. For example, if a professor were to ask his or her students to name the top 5 current events of the week, the professor’s class would provide consistent answers despite the wide array of outlets in which the student retrieved their information.

Overall, it is evident that the digital revolution has altered the way in which we read and consume information about our nation, but I believe Skey’s frameworks for media’s role in nationalism continue to remain consistent despite the introduction of more sources.

Skey, Michael. “The Mediation of Nationhood: Communicating the World as a World of Nations.” Communication Theory 24.1 (2014): 1-20.

Nationalism in the Media

As Ernest Gellner argued, “If nation-building projects entailed the synchronization of politics and culture… the media played a crucial role by bringing together disparate populations under the same cultural roof.”

At its inception, media not only centralized and unified primary languages, but also broadly distributed information across caste and class and brought populations together under a common set of cultural information. From advertisements and social media to movies and television, media continues to bring people together. However, nowadays, the individual has the capability of determining whether to unite under an umbrella of nationalism, cosmopolitanism, anarchism or almost any philosophy one could possibly desire.

Although individuals are capable of freethinking, advertising plays a huge role in the way people spend their money. People in the same area often buy the same products due to advertising targeted at a certain cultural or national values. A commercial is capable of essentially claiming that when a customer buys their product, he or she also supports the nation and it’s values. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE

On the other hand, social media provides an avenue for research, conversation and debate with an expansive audience of a variety of thinkers. While social media platforms can act as a tool for educated thinkers to express their ideas, Facebook and Twitter primarily serve as a type of advertisement for products, cat videos and celebrity gossip. Another reality of social media is that the loudest voices are typically not the educated thinkers, but those without another platform to express their ideas. While many of the social media audience may promote nationalism, it is likely that for every nationalist voice in the social sphere, there is also a voice of anarchism and separatism.

Many television shows and movies also promote nationalism whether it’s through blatantly nationalistic plot lines, subtle dialogue or even symbols. One movie that promotes an overtly nationalistic theme is Independence Day. The movie sets up the United States to unite and save the world through a mission to combat and destroy evil invading aliens. While other nations might see the plot as a farce, many Americans may feel a sense of pride and unity watching the U.S. President fighter pilot save the entire world.

An example of a TV show that promotes nationalism through seemingly insignificant symbols and language is Boy Meets World. Although Boy Meets World is about a typical American teenager and his typical American family, there are moments that highlight nationalism. While an American audience may not even notice these nationalist cues, they would be quite obvious to a foreigner. Some of these moments include an American flag in a classroom or children saying the Pledge of Allegiance before the school day, merely re-enforcing the acceptable national American identity.

Media continues to bring people together as a nation through advertising, social media and entertainment.  For better or worse, media promotes conversation and a sense of community.  Those communities are often at the national level.  Although media contributes to a variety of other types of communities, the media continues to sustain nationalism.

Waisbord, Silvio. “Media and the Reinvention of the Nation.” In The SAGE Handbook of Media Studies, edited by John D. H. Downing, Denis MsQuail, Philip Schlesinger and Ellen Wartella, 378. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2004.