A matter of time and space

The relevance of media globalization for different groups of society

Term Paper, 2012

12 Pages, Grade: A



1 Introduction
1.1 Goal of this paper and approach to the topic
1.2 Globalization concepts as stencil for media

2 Analyzing media
2.1 Outside polito-economical framework
2.2 Inside temporal-spatial constitution of content

3 Media impact on a global scale
3.1 The everyman recipient
3.2 Migrants
3.3 Hybrids
3.4 Cosmopolitans

4 Conclusion

1 Introduction

The title of his book “the myth of media globalization” (Hafez 2007: 1) entails three different dimensions: myth, media and globalization.

Whether something is a myth or not, is hard to define as the perception of a myth – the evaluation if a certain situation is exaggerated or not (Hafez 2007: 1) – is always something very subjective and depending on the judge’s viewpoint. So it is not surprising that in his book Kai Hafez comes to the conclusion that media globalization is a myth. He links strict requirements[1] to the state of globalization and seems to be analyzing mainly German media products under this perspective. He is also largely focusing on the receiving end of media content – the spectator (Hafez 2007: 14) – and emphasizing the role of the medium television within the globalization debate. Although the comparatively minor role the internet plays in this work could be due to the fact that this medium first started its unprecedented exponential grow around 2007[2]. Nevertheless he is neither emphasizing qualitative data to confirm his assumptions of a non-globalized media audience, nor is he presenting a broad range of quantitative figures to support his conclusion of a lack of globalization in the structure of media industry, policy and distribution. Although Hafez is referring to globalization as a process (Hafez 2007: 23), his high expectations of system change (Hafez 2007: 2) are leading to the rather utopian idea of the final state of a entirely globalized world – a situation which he describes has already happened in other sectors, such as economy of industrial goods (Hafez 2007: 4). Especially when dealing with such an all- encompassing question as globalization, it is crucial to dare a glimpse out of the box, not letting one-self be deluded by the West-European media culture one was born into and the wishful thinking of an ideal state of globalism, where all media content is accepted equally among the world’s public (Hafez 2007: 12). In order to challenge such a human terminology like ‘ myth’ I consider it appropriate to look at the phenomenon of globalization and media at eye level with the human part of media –its users[3]. By doing this, the following text will clearly reveal that Hafez’s ‘ myth’ isn’t actually reality.

1.1. Goal of this paper and approach to the topic

If the notion of media globalization is exaggeration of the true facts (Hafez 2007: 1), it is crucial to first look at the facts and then at how those facts may have been over-emphasized or not. Taking Kai Hafez’s book “The myth of media globalization” as a basis, I will be discussing his main arguments by first looking at the outer framework of society, before proceeding to a closer examination of media’s

inner structure, which will be concluded with the practical part of my argumentation: The people who use media.

In order to clarify the context of globalization I will investigat in Chapter 1.2. in which ways recent media developments are applicable to globalization theory. To ensure a “holistic approach” (Nederveen Pieterse 2004: 15) In Chapter 2 I will in addition to the emphasis on the content, briefly examine the global media infrastructure, which determines the extent of interaction and can thus be a measure for potential magnitude of media globalization (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, & Perraton 2003: 71). Due to the formal limits, the following text will not discuss the social dimension of language.

Media – whether global or not – play a major role in all layers of society. Media contains foremost qualitative features – a ‘meaning’ (Tomlingson 2007: 354), and therefore its role must be examined beyond figures of export and turnover. Eventually it is people who determine to what extent the world is globally connected via media[4] and whether a cultural product is truly global (Tomlingson 2007: 353). For this reason, I will draw a summary from media user perspective. At the same time I want to prevent falling into the trap of thinking the world is global, just because the scholarly world is rather a global one. Inspired by Hafez’s division of media users (Hafez 2007: 133 f.) I will therefore conclude with four exemplarily taken groups to show the impact (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, & Perraton 2003: 69) of media globalization:

(1) The everyman recipient, (2) migrants, (3) cosmopolitans and (4) hybrids.

1.2. Globalization concepts as stencil for media

In contemporary literature globalization is described as an “uneven process” (Nederveen Pieterse 2004: 13) of “widening, deepening & speeding up of global interconnectedness” (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, & Perraton 2003: 67). It is largely shaped by “technological change” (Nederveen Pieterse 2004: 9) and an “intensification of worldwide social relations” (Giddens, 2003: 60). The world economy and politics have never been as interconnected as today (Martell 2007: 185) and we can posit that a higher degree of interconnectedness within the media system also exists. Castells sees globalization even as a consequence of the global network society, and media and communication as its driving forces[5] . According to Beck, the world has nowadays reached a state where we can’t escape the fact that we’re affected by global events such as financial crisis (Beck in Rantanen 2005). Globalization doesn’t necessarily – as believed in the beginning – mean the end of the nation-state (Martell 2007: 174), it simply means “local transformation” (Giddens 2003: 60) and a general “reconfiguration of states” (Nederveen Pieterse 2004: 10). How ever this modification of the world’s structure will look like, still

applies the old marketing wisdom: “all business is local” and a global super-institution, substituting all sub-global media levels seems highly unlikely. Therefore Hafez’s aspiration about what globalized media would look like is questionable as a basis for analyzing this subject.

2 Analyzing media

2.1. Outside politic-economical framework

We can observe global changes in media within aspects that are usually taken as parameters for global change in general economy: information and financial capital flows and the division of labour (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, & Perraton 2003: 69). Transnational corporations like Time Warner (Thussu 2007: 27) are highly vertically and horizontally integrated (Sreberny-Mohammadi 2002: 342), operating worldwide, outsourcing certain steps of their production to different countries on this planet[6] and acquiring capital for funding not necessarily in the states where they spend it on marketing actions (Thussu, 2007: 139). Simultaneously transregional broadcasting companies are establishing, like MultiChoice Investment Holdings “operating more than one private TV channel in over 50 countries beyond Africa” (Thussu 2007: 156 f.). The argument which may apply for globalization of goods that the world before WWII was more connected (Hirst & Thompas according to Nederveen Pieterse 2004: 18) can definitely not be applied to a media dimension. Satellite television and internet led to an unprecedented interconnectedness of the world; global trade of cultural product tripled between 1980 and 1991 (Thussu 2007: 15). Technically and geographically modern media are now widely available (in different quality) on this planet (Gustafsson 2012a: 7). Figures of computer penetration may be misleading as the use of mobile internet is more and more emerging (Gustafsson 2012a) and also accessible for citizens of the so-called ‘developing countries’ to a significant extent (see figure 1 & 2). Nonetheless a digital divide is still evident, even though declining. The world media infrastructure may be operated mainly by a few transnational companies (Thussu 2007: 27) but the content they bear is as diverse as the cultures that they create them. Hafez links ‘change’ (Hafez 2007: 27) strongly to the definition of globalization.

Table 1: % of users coming from developing countries; source: (Sciadas, 2005, S. 11)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 2: Rural population covered by a mobile signal, by region Source: (International Telecommunication Union, 2010, S. 14)


[1] He is repeatedly referring to „change“ as a crucial factor to determine globalization and sees a world-spanning “supersystem” (Hafez 2007: 12) as sine qua non- factor

[2] World Internet penetration 2007: 1.36 billion; 2011: 2,26 billion users (source: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER/countries/1W?display=graph; status: 03.10.2012)

[3] I’m referring here particularly to the term ‚user‘ not ‚receiver‘ or ‘consumer’, as media recipients in times of interactive TV and web 2.0. nowadays can hardly be defined as one passive mass anymore.

[4] I hereby take media connection as a point of departure as “media Power is no longer the power to provide information, it’s the power to make up connection” (Robertson 2012)

[5] “…in modern times power is played out by media and communication” (Castells in Rantanen 2005: 138).

[6] India for example is becoming a major destination for Hollywood digital media production (UNESCO according to Thussu 2007: 13)

Excerpt out of 12 pages


A matter of time and space
The relevance of media globalization for different groups of society
Stockholm University  (JMK)
Global Media Studies I
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
499 KB
Global media, media use, Hafez, hybrids, cosmopolitan, appadurai
Quote paper
Michaela Strobel (Author), 2012, A matter of time and space, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/204117


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