Globlisation, Culture and the Mass Media


Media Imperialism

The global economic system is dominated by companies based in the rich Capitlists countries, these control production and distribution of consumer goods.


Sawen estimtes that the richest 200 Capitlist compnies control half of the world's economic activity. McDonalds is an  example because it competes with indigenous producers and is responsible for fundmental changes in behaviour.

Mass media corporations play a role in this dominance, as they are a dominant force in information distribution and advertising. 9 of the top 10 media companies are based in the US. They control the content and distribution of knowledge and ideas. Thus, the mass media becomes the driving force in the process of cultural imperialism.

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Cultural Flows

Critics (such as Tomlinson) reject the idea of imperialism and argue that cultural and media influences don't solely originate from the West. A network of communications and influences flow in lots of different directions. Thus, globalisation encourages the mixing of cultural influences to create a multicultual world.

Reception Theory also rejects media imperialism and the idea that audience of a passive mass who accept the mass media's output. Instead, they argue, audiences respond actively as they interpret media messages. Their interpretation will depend on social factors including gender, ethnicity and class.

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Case Study: Asia

  • A number of Asian countries have successfully persued policies aimed at limiting Western influence by censoring or banning internet searches and satelite TV.
  • Many countries operate state owned TV channels which broadcast government controlled news to counter the Western influence.
  • Some have adopted and modified Western TV formats to fit indigeneous culture, such as the Chinese version of Sesame Street.
  • TV programmes on folklore, history and myth remain hugely popular.
  • India has a huge popultion and their TV is crowded with adverts aimed at the growing middle classes.
  • Star TV, an  Indian company owned by NewsCorp is a dominant player in the market.
  • Indian soaps share features with their Western counterparts but remain distinctly Indian in many ways. Bollywood films are very popular all over the world.
  • Film industries in Asia have also had global success as well as influencing Hollywood film makes, for example, with martial arts films. There have been successful remakes of a number of Asian horror films, such as The Ring.
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Case Study: The Philippinnes

  • Western views about individual achievement do not fit with the cultural norms as Philippine values are more family and class based, influenced by the Spanish past.
  • The most popular TV programmes are Mexican made soaps dubbed into Filipino, many Filipinos can identify with the characters in the soaps particulally the peasant women who obtain high status
  • This shows how a globalised media can reinforce existing values and beliefs as the stories on the soaps reflect the hopes and dreams of the people.
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The Internet

The invention of the internet has led some commentators to picture of world with a free exchange of information to produce global democracy. Giddens argues that the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe was partly the result of its citizens gaining a view of the West.

The internet is important in this context as it is not controllled by media oligopolies, but by individuals and groups who use it.

However, the poor of the world do not have and cannot afford access to the internet and its users are predominatly Western. It is also dominated by transnational businesses such as Google and is not immune to government interference.

Buckley argues that radio is still the most important mode of communication in the developing world as poor people have access to radio and thus trade unions can operate their own stations for educational and political purpose.

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