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Globalization and Media

Jack Lule
Department of Journalism and Communication, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

This entry first defines globalization and explores its origins. It affirms that globalization is best conceived as
multiple, ongoing, and interconnected processes: economic, political, and cultural. Media are essential to
these historical processes and the entry traces the development of communication media to show the ways
in which media were central to globalization. Finally, the entry examines issues raised by the interaction
of globalization and media in the arenas of economics, politics, and culture.

INTRODUCTION 1981 there were just two references to globalization

(p. 246).[2] A Google search now brings up 15.1 million
First used perhaps 50 years ago, and little used until 30 sites. Chanda observes, “the term globalization emerged
years ago, the term globalization has exploded in promi- because the visibility of our globally connected life called
nence and usage. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary dates glob- for a word to sum up the phenomenon of this interconnec-
alize to 1944. Theodore Levitt, a former professor at the tedness”(p. x).[2]
Harvard Business School, is widely credited with popular- Perhaps unsurprisingly for such a vast topic, no single
izing the term, which he used in a 1983 Harvard Business definition can exist for globalization. Many writers place
Review article, “The Globalization of Markets.” Despite their focus on economic aspects. Merriam-Webster defines
its cloudy past, however, the word has entered languages globalization as “the act or process of globalizing; the state
around the world. Overseas, in the Queen’s English, the of being globalized; especially the development of an
word gets softened to globalisation. In French, it is la mon- increasingly integrated global economy marked especially
dialisation. The Chinese say, quan qiu hua. In Kiswahili, by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper
the word is utandawazi. foreign labor markets.”[3] Similarly, in The Lexus and
This entry will first define globalization and explore its the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman writes, “globalization
origins. It will affirm that globalization is best conceived involves the inexorable integration of markets, nation-states
as multiple, ongoing, and interconnected processes: eco- and technologies to a degree never witnessed before—in
nomic, political, and cultural. It will posit that media are a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-
essential to these historical processes and trace the develop- states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and
ment of communication media to show the ways in which cheaper than ever before” (my emphasis).[4]
media were central to globalization. Finally, it will examine Is globalization a modern phenomenon? Some scholars
issues raised by the interaction of globalization and media believe so. Globalization began a few decades ago, they
in the arenas of economics, politics, and culture. say, in the late 1900s, when advances in media and trans-
portation technology truly globalized the world. The cul-
tural anthropologist Arjun Appadurai feels there was a
ORIGINS OF GLOBALIZATION “rupture” within social life in the late twentieth century.
He says that advances in media, such as television, comput-
Anthony Giddens was among the first scholars to begin seri- ers, and cell phones, combined with changes in migra-
ous inquiry into globalization. In an interview, he remarked tion patterns, such as people more easily flowing back
upon the rapid acceptance of the term since the 1980s. and forth around the world, facilitated the move. Those
two “diacritics”—media and migration—fundamentally
At that time globalization was not a word used everywhere, changed human life, Appadurai says, and gave rise to this
as it is now. We have even started to feel a certain distaste entity now called globalization.[5]
for it. There cannot be many concepts in the social sciences
However, many other scholars say globalization began a
that have been able to penetrate public consciousness the
way globalization has.
few hundred years ago. They pair globalization with the rise
—Rantanen[1] of modernity in the Enlightenment or with the age of Euro-
pean exploration. Columbus’ arrival in America is often
Nayan Chanda, former head of the Yale Center for the used as a marker for globalization. Still others feel that glob-
Study of Globalization, studied a database of 8000 newspa- alization has been going on since the beginning of human-
pers, magazines, and reports worldwide and found that in ity, when the first Homo sapiens departed from other Homo

Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy, Third Edition DOI: 10.1081/E-EPAP3-120053320
Copyright © 2015 by Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved. 1
2 Globalization and Media

sapiens in an African village and set out in search of food or added digital to those three. Terhi Rantanen[9] places script
water or adventure. Those first travelers of the world put before the printing press and breaks down the electronic
globalization into motion. Yale’s Nayan Chanda embraces period into wired and wireless, for six periods.
this view. He says globalization “is a process that has For the study of globalization and media, five time peri-
worked silently for millennia without having been given a ods are useful: oral, script, print, electronic, and digital. The
name” and that, as a trend, globalization “has been with media of each time period contributed in distinct ways to the
us since the beginning of history.” He argues that a multi- globalization of the world. However, it is important to stress
tude of threads “connect us to faraway places from an that globalization and media do not proceed along an inevi-
ancient time” (pp. x–xi).[2] table, inexorable path of progress. Media—and globaliza-
No right answer exists, of course, as to when global- tion as well—have developed sporadically, erratically, in
ization began. But most writers do agree that even if fits and starts, driven by human needs, desires, and actions,
globalization is decidedly modern, precursors of globaliza- resulting in great benefits and sometime greater harm. Chart-
tion—travel, trade, exchange—are evident throughout the ing history is not necessarily charting progress. The history
history of humankind. Understanding globalization in this of media and globalization is the history of humanity itself.
longer, historical view, however, scholars have increasingly
recognized that globalization thus involves more than eco- Oral Communication
nomic forces.[6] In fact, globalization is best conceived as
three distinct but entwined processes: economic, cultural, Speech is often the most overlooked medium in histories of
and political. globalization. Yet, the oral medium—human speech—is
the oldest and most enduring of all media. Over hundreds
of thousands of years, despite numerous changes undergone
GLOBALIZATION AND MEDIA by humans and their societies, the very first and last humans
will share at least one thing—the ability to speak. Speech
Media have been identified as an integral aspect of global- has been with us for at least 200,000 years, script for less
ization. The word is plural for medium—a means of con- than 7000 years, print for less than 600 years, and digital
veying something, such as a channel of communication. technology for less than 50 years.
However, the plural form—media—only came into general When speech developed into language, Homo sapiens
circulation in the 1920s. Like globalization, the word media had developed a medium that would set them apart from
came into popular usage because a word was needed to talk every other species and allow them to cover and conquer
about a new social issue. In the 1920s, people were talking the world. How did the medium of language aid globaliza-
about their fears over the harmful influence of new “mass tion? Language allowed humans to cooperate. During a
media,” such as comic books, radio, and film. Now, the hunt, the ability to coordinate was a considerable advan-
term “media” encompasses not only traditional mass media tage. And there were other advantages. Sharing information
but older media, such as cave paintings and Roman acta, as about land, water, climate, and weather aided humans’ abil-
well as digital and social media, including cellphones, tab- ity to travel and adapt to different environments. Sharing
lets, Facebook, Twitter, and media to come. information about tools and weapons led to the spread of
Scholars have argued that these media have been central technology. Humans eventually moved to every corner of
to globalization. That is, the human impulse to globalize the world, encountering new environments and experiences
and the human need to communicate over distance have at each turn. Language was their most important tool.[10]
proceeded together through time. As our ancestors left Language helped humans move, but it also helped them
Africa, they developed and used media of communication settle down. Language stored and transmitted important
that helped them spread across the globe. And the links agricultural information across time as one generation
between globalization and media continue to this day. In passed on its knowledge to the next, leading to the creation
many ways, globalization cannot be understood without of villages and towns. Language also led to markets, the
the study of those media. From cave paintings to home trade of goods and services, and eventually into cross-con-
pages, from smoke signals to satellites, from bongos to tinental trade routes. Organized, permanent, trading centers
Blackberrys, the evolution of media has been essential to grew, giving rise to cities. And perhaps around 4000 B.C.E.,
human life, has arisen in the context of social life, and has humans’ first civilization was created at Sumer in the Mid-
been integral to globalization. dle East. Sometimes called the “cradle of civilization,”
Scholars have found it logical and helpful to organize Sumer is thought to be the birthplace of the wheel, plow,
the historical study of media by time periods or stages. irrigation, and writing—all created by language.
Each period is characterized by its dominant medium. For
example, the Canadian theorist Harold Innis,[7] Marshall Script
McLuhan’s teacher, writing in the 1940s and 1950s,
divided media into three periods: oral, print, and electronic. Some histories of media technology skip this stage or give it
James Lull,[8] writing at the close of the twentieth century, brief mention as a transition between oral cultures and
Globalization and Media 3

cultures of the printing press. But the era was crucial for and circulated. Literacy followed, and the literacy of com-
globalization and media. Language was essential but imper- mon people was to revolutionize every aspect of life. The
fect. Distance causes trouble for oral communication. It explosive flow of economic, cultural, and political ideas
takes elaborate systems to communicate with language around the world connected and changed people and cul-
over great expanses. Time also causes difficulties. Lan- tures in ways never before possible.
guage relies on human memory, which is limited in capacity In a masterful, 750-page treatise, historian Elizabeth
and not always perfect. Script—the very first writing— Eisenstein[12] surveyed the many profound influences of
allowed humans to communicate and share knowledge the printing press. Her findings range across the Enlighten-
and ideas over much larger spaces and across much ment, the Protestant Reformation, the scientific revolution,
longer times. and more. Two overarching consequences, however, can be
Writing has its own evolution and developed from cave suggested from her work. First, the printing press changed
paintings, petroglyphs, and hieroglyphs. Early writing sys- the very nature of knowledge. It preserved knowledge,
tems began to appear after 3000 B.C.E., with symbols carved which had been more malleable in oral cultures. It also stan-
into clay tablets to keep account of trade. These “cunei- dardized knowledge, which had become more variable as it
form” marks later developed into symbols that represented spread orally across regions and lands. Script and papyrus
the syllables of languages and eventually led to the creation had begun the process of preservation and standardization,
of alphabets, the scripted letters that represent the smallest but not nearly to the extent allowed by printing presses.
sounds of a language. These alphabets, learned now in pre- A second consequence: print encouraged the challenge
schools around the world, were central to the evolution of of political and religious authority because of its ability to
humankind and its civilizations. circulate competing views. Eisenstein notes that “fear of
But script needed to be written on something. Writing disapproval, a sense of isolation, the force of local commu-
surfaces have their own evolution. Writing was done at first nity sanctions, the habit of respectful submission to tradi-
as carvings into wood, clay, bronze, bones, stone, and even tional authority—all might be weakened” (p. 148).[12] For
tortoise shells. Ancient Egypt created one of the most pop- centuries in Europe, the monks and priests of the Catholic
ular writing surfaces from a plant found along the Nile Church were among the few with the education, time, and
River—papyrus (from which the English word paper even- resources for reading and writing books. The Church thus
tually derived). With script on sheets of papyrus and parch- had a kind of monopoly over knowledge. Church officials
ment, humans had a medium that catapulted globalization. could decide what the illiterate public should know. The
Script allowed for the written and permanent codification printing press, however, encouraged the literacy of the pub-
of economic, cultural, religious, and political practice. lic and the growth of schools. Also, the rise of inexpensive,
These codes could then be spread out over large distances easily obtained magazines and daily newspapers brought
and handed down through time. The great civilizations, news from around the world to people. People increasingly
from Egypt and Greece to Rome and China, were made pos- learned of lands and cultures far from where they could
sible through script.[11] If globalization is considered the travel. They learned about the world. Truly, the printing
economic, cultural, and political integration of the world, press helped foster globalization—and knowledge of
then surely script—the written word—must be considered globalization.
an essential medium.
Electronic Media
The Printing Press
Beginning in the nineteenth century, a host of new
It started the “information revolution” and transformed mar- media would revolutionize the ongoing processes of global-
kets, businesses, nations, schools, churches, governments, ization. Scholars have come to call these “electronic media”
armies, and more. All histories of media and globalization because they require electromagnetic energy—electricity—
acknowledge the consequential role of the printing press. to use. The telegraph, telephone, radio, film, and television
Many begin with the printing press. It is easy to see why. are the usual media collected under electronic media. The
Prior to the printing press, the production and copying of vast reach of these electronic media continues to open up
written documents was slow, cumbersome, and expensive. new vistas in the economic, political, and cultural processes
The papyrus, parchment, and paper that spread civilizations of globalization.
were the province of a select, powerful few. Reading and In our modern world, the telegraph is not thought of
writing, too, were practices of the ruling and religious elite. as a revolutionary medium. But in its time, the telegraph was
The rich and powerful controlled information. With the a sensation with significant consequences. Samuel F. B.
advent of the printing press, first made with movable Morse began work on a machine in the 1830s that eventu-
wooden blocks in China and then with movable metal ally could send coded messages—dots and dashes—over
type by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany, reading material electrical lines. The effects were enormous. Almost imme-
suddenly was cheaply made and easily circulated. Millions diately, rail travel was more efficient and safe since infor-
of books, pamphlets, and flyers were produced, reproduced, mation about arrivals or delays could be passed down the
4 Globalization and Media

line ahead of the trains. Corporations and businesses were for example, before 1950, fewer than 10% of U.S. homes
able to exchange information about markets and prices. had televisions. In five years, the number grew to 64.5%.
Newspapers could report information instantaneously. By By 1960, 87.1% of U.S. homes had television. Worldwide
1866, a transatlantic cable was laid between the United growth was rapid too. By the end of the 1960s, half the
States and Europe, and the telegraph became a truly global countries in the world had television stations.
medium.[13] Television brought together the visual and aural power
The ability to transmit speech over distance was the of film with the accessibility of radio: People sat in their liv-
next communication breakthrough. Though not always ing rooms and kitchens and viewed pictures and stories
considered a mass medium, the telephone surely contrib- from across the globe. The world was brought into the
uted to connecting the world. Alexander Graham Bell is home. The amount, range, and intensity of communication
credited with inventing the telephone in 1876. It quickly with other lands and cultures occurred in ways simply not
became a globally adopted medium. By 1927, the first possible before. For some scholars, the introduction of tele-
transatlantic call was made via radio. The creation of the vision was a defining moment in globalization. Marshall
cell phone in 1973 was especially crucial in the context McLuhan proclaimed the world a “global village,” largely
of globalization and media. Relatively cheap to produce because of television.
and buy, and easy to learn and transport, cell phones
have quickly become the world’s dominant communica- Digital Media
tion device and penetrated even the world’s most remote
regions and villages. Digital media are most often electronic media that rely on
Radio developed alongside the telegraph and telephone digital codes—the long arcane combinations of 0 s and 1 s
in the late 1890s. The technology was first conceived as a that represent information. Many of our earlier media,
“wireless telegraph.” By the early 1900s, speech indeed such as phones and televisions, can now be considered dig-
was being transmitted without wires. By the 1920s, broad- ital. Indeed, digital may even be blurring the lines among
cast stations were “on the air,” transmitting music and news. media. If you can watch television, take photographs,
Radio quickly became a global medium, reaching distant show movies, and send e-mail on your smart phone or
regions without the construction of wires or roads. For tablet, what does that mean for our neat categorization of
much of the twentieth century, radio was the only mass media into television, film, or phone? The computer,
medium available in many remote villages. Radio was cru- though, is the usual representation of digital media and,
cially involved with the upheavals of globalization during some would argue, the most significant medium to influ-
this time, from radio broadcasts that riveted audiences ence globalization.
during World War II, to the propaganda services that did In the realm of economics, computers allow instanta-
battle worldwide during the Cold War, to the so-called neous, global trading 24 hours a day. Anyone with a com-
“death radio” that helped drive the genocide of Tutsi in puter has access to economic information that just a few
Rwanda.[14] The ability of radio to broadcast over the Inter- years ago was in the hands of a wealthy few. Also, comput-
net has only expanded its global reach. ers have revolutionized work in every industry and trade.
Along with the telegraph, telephone, and radio, film They streamline tasks, open up new areas and methods of
arose as another potent medium. Silent motion pictures research, and allow any company or industry access to a
were shown as early as the 1870s. But as a mass medium, global marketplace. Some of the largest companies in the
film developed in the 1890s. The Great Train Robbery, world, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and
made in 1903, is often credited as the first narrative film, more, arose in the digital era and have been instrumental
ten minutes long with 14 scenes. Film soon developed to globalization.
into an artistic medium of great cultural expression. By In the realm of politics, computers allow citizens access
the 1920s, directors such as D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisen- to information from around the world, even information that
stein, F. W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang were using film to cap- governments would like to conceal. Blogs, social media,
ture powerful narratives that resonated within and across Twitter, text messaging, and more allow citizens to commu-
cultures. The worldwide success of films such as Avatar nicate among themselves. And computers have transformed
and Titanic offers resounding examples of the confluence cultural life. Access to information around the globe allows
of globalization and media. Though Hollywood and Bolly- people to adopt and adapt new practices in music, sports,
wood get much attention, the cultivation of film industries education, religion, fashion, cuisine, the arts, and other
in nations around the globe continues to this day. areas of culture. People talk with friends, relations, and
For many people, television is considered the most pow- even strangers around the world through Skype, Google
erful and pervasive mass medium yet created. Though tele- Chat, and other programs. Digital media have revolution-
vision programming existed back in the 1920s, the years ized daily life.
after World War II saw the explosion in the production The purpose of this historical overview has been to track
and penetration of television into homes around the world. the development of communication media over time and
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract, show how those media were essential to ongoing processes
Globalization and Media 5

of globalization. Our starting point was that the human market expansion, government intervention, and more,
impulse to globalize and the human need to communicate have paved the way for conglomerates to expand world-
over distance have proceeded together through history, wide. He writes:
each driving and influencing the other. Even in a condensed
summary, the partnership of globalization and media is The global media system is not the result of “free markets”
clear. Each of the eras—oral, script, print, electronic, and or natural law; it is the consequence of a number of impor-
tant state policies that have been made that created the sys-
digital—saw marked influences of media on globalization.
tem. The media giants have had a heavy hand in drafting
It is difficult to imagine globalization occurring without the these laws and regulations, and the public tends to have lit-
media that are so crucial to human life. tle or no input. In the United States, the corporate media
lobbies are notorious for their ability to get their way with
politicians, especially if their adversary is not another pow-
MEDIA AND ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION erful corporate sector, but that amorphous entity called the
“public interest.”
Globalization is best understood not only as an historical —McChesney[16]
process but as multiple processes—economic, political,
and cultural—and media is integral to each. In the economic
arena, media make economic globalization possible by cre- MEDIA AND POLITICAL GLOBALIZATION
ating the conditions for global capitalism. From early hag-
gling at trading posts to scripted ledgers to wire transfers, Globalization has transformed world politics in profound
media have been crucial to trade. The media have been ways. It led to the formation and then the overthrow of king-
essential conduits for worldwide business information, doms and empires. It led to the creation of the nation-state.
communication, and transactions. Newspapers, magazines, And now some argue that the nation-state is being weak-
radio, television, and the Internet have all been quickly ened as people and borders become ever more fluid in our
adapted to economic globalization. Oliver Boyd-Barrett globalized world. Some argue that transnational political
and Terhi Rantanen find that “the links between modernity, actors, from NGOs like Greenpeace to corporations to the
capitalism, news, news agencies and globalization are an United Nations, now rise in prominence in our age
outstanding but neglected feature of the past 150 years” of globalization.
(p. 2).[15] Today, the flow of economic data and information Though media corporations are themselves powerful
is instantaneous and voluminous. Around the world, media political actors, individual journalists are subject to brutal
outlets, such as London’s Financial Times; Japan’s Nihon and intense intimidation as more actors contend for power.
Keizai Shimbun; China’s Jingji Cankao Bao; and the There has never been a more dangerous time to work in
United States’ Bloomberg News, Wall Street Journal, and media. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
CNBC provide individuals and corporations with the infor- estimates that on average close to 100 journalists and media
mation they require to buy and sell. And minute by minute, workers are killed in the line of duty each year. They die in
the media carry news of the slightest rise or fall of the war zones. They die from car bombs. They die covering
market. earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. They die in drug raids.
Media have also been instrumental in promoting the con- Many though are specifically targeted, hunted down, and
ceptual foundation of the world’s market economy. Eco- murdered because of their work. In a horrifying confluence
nomic globalization, in this perspective, is story and myth of media and political globalization, in 2014, two U.S. jour-
—narratives that make natural the buying and selling of nalists, who were covering conflict in the Mideast, were
products across borders and boundaries and mythic celebra- beheaded and videotapes of their killings were posted
tions of products and consumption. Advertising—the pri- online.
mary support of media in our times—is the main vehicle Media are subject to other pressures in this age of high-
for such celebrations. tech persuasion, manipulation, and propaganda. Economic,
Also of crucial importance, the media are themselves political, and personal pressures shape the news around the
now huge transnational global corporations that help drive globe. It is another key feature of media and political glob-
globalization even as they embody globalization. Newspa- alization. Officials around the world are extremely success-
pers, magazines, and radio and television stations were not ful at influencing and molding the news so that it builds
long ago primarily local media, owned by local people, support for their domestic and foreign policies. All of
serving regional and only sometimes national audiences. humankind’s considerable persuasive techniques—from
Media now are the epitome of economic globalization. cajoling to coddling to conniving to coercing—are put
Much of the world’s media is owned or controlled by a into play so that news media report favorably on govern-
handful of conglomerates that span the globe in pursuit of ment actions and initiatives.
markets and profits. Robert McChesney has extensively In other places, however, the influence and inducements
studied the global media oligopoly. He argues that a host are subtler. Stories are produced or not produced so that
of political decisions, including deregulation, support for journalists might maintain good relations with government
6 Globalization and Media

and corporate officials or so that they might attain or main- killing them. Iran’s so-called 2009 “Twitter revolution,”
tain status, perks, and prestige. In a now classic treatise, for example, shows the limits of media power.[20] The rev-
Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky[17] charge the news olution ultimately was unsuccessful. Through a vicious
media with being complicit in “manufacturing consent.” crackdown, Iranian rulers further solidified their authority.
The authors challenge the standard conception of Western And the government then used Twitter, Facebook, and other
journalists as “watchdogs” on the powerful. Outright bribes social media to track down and arrest protest leaders. In
seldom influence Western coverage, say Herman and China, more than 50,000 “cyberpolice” stalk the Internet
Chomsky. Instead, structural factors shape reporting: the usage of the Chinese people.[21]
media’s ownership by, or close relationship with, corpora-
tions; the drive for profits from circulations, ratings, and
advertising revenue; and journalists’ close relationships MEDIA AND CULTURAL GLOBALIZATION
with biased or involved sources in government and busi-
ness. These forces, the authors say, can lead to the routine Global media are the primary carriers of global culture.
publishing and promoting of news shaped by governments Through newspapers, magazines, movies, advertisements,
and corporations. Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda television, radio, the Internet, and other forms, the media
model shows “the routes by which money and power are produce and display cultural products, from pop songs to
able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, top films. They also generate numerous and ongoing inter-
and allow the government and dominant private interests actions among cultures, such as when American hip hop
to get their messages across to the public” (p. 2).[17] music is heard by Cuban youth. Yet, the media are much
Some writers have wondered whether new media have more than technology, more than mechanical conveyors
the potential to invigorate and transform political life in of culture, more than simple carriers of songs or advertise-
the global village. Just a few decades ago, “new media” ments. The media are active economic agents and aggres-
were technologies such as fax machines, audiocassettes, sive political lobbyists on matters of culture. They market
and VCRs. And all of these media made their mark on pol- brands aggressively. They seek out new markets worldwide
itics. One well-known example was the use of audiocas- for their cultural products. They actively bring about inter-
settes to spread the sermons of the exiled Ayatollah actions of culture for beauty, power, and profit.
Khomeini in Iran in the 1970s. Eventually, the Ayatollah In some ways, these interactions are like cultural labora-
built a base of support and led the Islamic Revolution, tory experiments. They sometimes result in startling and
which still controls Iran. stunning hybrid creations. But other times, they result in
Today, however, new media most often refer to digital combustible and explosive mixtures. Many scholars have
technologies, such as computers, tablets, and cell phones. considered the varied outcomes that can come from the
People increasingly communicate, collaborate, and get commingling of media, culture, and globalization. In his
information and news through these devices.[18] In the con- book, Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange, Jan
text of political globalization, many people hope that new Nederveen Pieterse[22] argues that there are actually three,
media and digital technology can improve politics.[19] and only three, outcomes with which to consider the influ-
They look at events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere and ence of globalization on culture.
feel new media can allow alternative voices within and Cultural differentialism suggests that cultures are differ-
across borders. They hope new media will enlarge the pub- ent, strong, and resilient. Distinctive cultures will endure,
lic sphere. They feel new media can offer the opportunity this outcome suggests, despite globalization and the global
for more people to be involved with political action and reach of American or Western cultural forms. For some, this
civil society. outcome is ominous for our era of globalization. It can sug-
These new media do indeed have characteristics— gest that cultures are destined to clash as globalization con-
mobile, interactive, discursive, and participatory—with tinually brings them together. U.S. political scientist
dramatic political implications. Because of the low cost Samuel Huntington’s classic though contested work, The
and ease of posting text, photos, video, music, and other Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order[23]
material online, digital media allow for the possibility of argues, for example, that the West and Islam will be locked
multiple, varied voices and views that can challenge and in conflict.
question those in power. Yet, too often in discussions of Cultural convergence suggests that globalization will
political globalization and media, the promise of new media bring about a growing sameness of cultures. A global cul-
is overstated. New media voices can all too easily be ture, likely American culture, some fear, will overtake
silenced. In Egypt, for example, the government owns the many local cultures, which will lose their distinctive charac-
Internet service provider, Telecom Egypt. During the teristics. For some, this outcome can suggest “cultural
2011 revolt, the government simply shut down the Internet imperialism,” in which the cultures of more developed
to prevent organizing through Facebook and other social nations “invade” and take over the cultures of less devel-
media. New media can also be silenced in more primitive oped nations. The result, under this outcome, will be a
ways—by threatening people, by arresting them, and by worldwide, homogenized, Westernized culture.[24]
Globalization and Media 7

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cultural forms, from music to food to fashion. For Pieterse, Globalization; University of Minnesota: Minneapolis, 1996;
this outcome is common, desirable, occurs throughout
6. Holton, R. Making Globalization; Palgrave Macmillan:
history, and will occur more so in an era of globalization.
New York, 2005.
The three outcomes organize what could be thousands of 7. Innis, H. Empire and Communications; University of Toronto
distinct examples of the meeting of global and local culture. Press: Toronto, 1950.
In reality, all three outcomes occur regularly. Worldwide 8. Lull, J. Media, Communication, Culture: A Global Approach,
violence surrounding the publication in 2006 of Danish edi- 2nd Ed.; Polity: Cambridge, UK, 2000.
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