Media, Cultural, Diversity and Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities, Mohamed Zayani

  • The free flow of information in our contemporary societies has greatly enhanced connectivity and facilitated globalization, but it has also brought with it the threat of cultural standardization
  • The attention to cultural pluralism and the recognition of cultural difference have a historical specificity which can be loosely associated with modern colonialism.
  • In the post World War II era, the affirmation of cultural rights has been firmly yoked with the movements for independence and the calls for decolonization. For the newly independent states, the affirmation of cultural identity was a form of resistance against foreign dominance.

  • The globalization of populations brought with it the realization among nation-states of the impossibility of encapsulating the totality of society within set boundaries (Beck & Camiller 2004) and the need for envisaging a separate but shared space for the co-existence of diverse cultures.
  • Western liberal framework tends to depoliticize and reify difference even as it celebrates it, “being constructed too much from the point of view of an invisible, controlling center of whiteness as the implicit, taken-for-granted norm of a culture unmarked by ethnicity in relation to which the differences of other cultures are to be registered, assessed and tolerated” (Bennett, 2004, p. 3).
  • while the recognition of cultural rights is a near-global phenomenon, the celebration of cultural diversity as a value in itself is largely a Western phenomenon
  • the UNESCO (2001) document insists that cultural diversity—^being “a value through which differences are mutually related and reciprocally supportive” (Cultural Diversity: A Platform, 2002, p. 13)—is not to be equated with or reduced to cultural difference. Thus, one is impelled to protect cultural diversity not for its own sake, but because it is a dynamic process which can enhance cultural understand^ing and breed tolerance for the coexistence of cultures and subcultures both within and across societies.
  • While globalization has often been heralded as an opportunity and cherished as a context for facilitating the exchange of ideas, promoting participation and fostering creativity, it has also been criticized as an instrument of cultural uniformity (Reding, 2005)
  • transnationally: asks us to think and act as if each of us belonged to a nation that is both autonomous and related geographically, practically, economically or culturally to each other, (Stimpson, 1998, p. 184)
  • media change and growth
  • For Tehranian (1999), the changes in technology, the transformation of media and the globalization of communication have a strong bearing on the ability of individuals and groups to safeguard diversity
  • Macromedia of communication (which are associated with global satellite and computer networks, trans-border data flows, scientific and professional electronic mailing, and commercial advertising) support the globalization of national markets, societies and cultures, though they privilege the power centers more than the periphery
  • Mesomedia of communication (such as the press, print media, audio-visual media, the film industry, and news agencies) are usually under the control of national governments or commercial and pressure groups and, as such, function mostly as agents of national integration and social mobilization
  • Micromedia of communication (such as the telephone, copying machines, audio and video recorders, tapes, PCs, and the Web) have primarily empowered the centrifugal forces of dissent at the peripheries of power.
  • Media play a central role in fostering the homogenizing effect of the culture industry; as such, they shape our relationship with the other and with society
  • individuals develop a taste for what media show, consume what media promote, act in accordance with the information media divulge, construct reality within a media framework, and interpret events in light of what media communicate (Appaclurai, 1990).
  • In some ways, media is a double-edged sword, with the proclivity to be appropriated as a force of empowerment but also the tendency to be used as a means of subjection.
  • No less important than media content and practices is the media processes—an inclusive category which defines the parameters of representation and its consumption
  • In depicting reality, media also shape the representation of individuals and groups. Media play a crucial role in the construction of the image of “the other” and can hinder or facilitate awareness and understanding of difference
  • rigid categories: the “us” versus “them” paradigm which thrives on inaccurate depictions and negative images to characterize and categorize people.
  • By offering a limited range of representations of the other—whether defined in terms of ethnicity, race, gender or religion—media tend to foster and ingrain certain stereotypes which come to shape the imaginary.

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