BCM 111

Globalisation: Utopian vs Dystopian

There have been many different views of globalisation since its beginning, such as McLuhan’s idea of a ‘global village‘ (1964). He states that:

“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”

The global village presents a utopian view of globalisation, in that it is a view of the world where media allows everyone a chance to be heard and information to be shared among everyone. This brings about the view that through globalisation of communication, people can be brought closer together no matter where they are in the world.

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This idea of closeness through communication is backed up by O’Shaughnessy and Stadler (2012) who state that globalisation is characterised by four qualities: instantaneity, interconnectedness, interdependence and corporate mergers and conglomeration. These qualities are seen throughout the utopian view of globalisation as a positive aspect of the motion as it allows communication to transcend multiple forms of boundaries that it had not previously been able to. It also enables media consumers to freely access more information than before, which is largely due to the emergence of the internet. Those with a utopian view see globalisation as “an agent of empowerment, education, democracy and equality” (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2012).

However, this view has its criticisms. One such criticism comes from Castells (2001, cited in O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2012) when he argues that “information technology is the electricity of the Information Age.” For him, not having an internet connection in this ‘Information Age’ can have significant financial and cultural consequences as it impacts development. For those without internet access, globalisation of the media can be seen as a “powerful mechanism of social exclusion” (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2012).

Castells (2000, cited in O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2012) also criticised McLuhan’s concept by saying:

“We are not living in a global village, but in customised cottages globally produced and locally distributed.”

By this he is saying that through globalisation we are losing meaningful interpersonal communication, along with traditional values, languages and even communities; which is an example of cultural imperialism. Fitting with Appadurai’s idea cultural homogenisation (1990), an example of cultural imperialism could be the spread of American TV shows and movies.

It can be hard to decipher whether globalisation is more positive or negative as there are so many different aspects and consequences to consider for each argument. However, this is not to say that either view is incorrect. Rather that when approaching media globalisation, we need to consider both views in order to not be led astray by either argument.


References:

Appadurai, A 1990, ‘Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy’, Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 295-310, viewed 4 August 2016,<http://www.arjunappadurai.org/articles/Appadurai_Disjuncture_and_Difference_in_the_Global_Cultural_Economy.pdf&gt;

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 1964

O’Shaughnessy, M & Stadler, J 2012, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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