The role of media and transnational identity in globalization

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The role of media and transnational identity in globalization.

The transnational media sophistication, its wide appeal and mass outreach, plus its ability to transmit across boarders have been explored by the major globalization players, to undermine national identities. The electronic, print media and advertising strategies has been the tool of this invasion on the globe. As Tim Edensor rightly observed that there is greatly expanded transnational media export market. These multinational media outfit, with ownership in USA and Europe have emerged with dominant influence dislodging popular culture and everyday life which are components of national identity.

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[1] The media influence and its effect in national identity is not in doubt, but what then is globalization? Let us try to throw light to what globalization entails. At the most basic level, “globalization refers to the way in which commerce, information and culture are increasingly exchanged and managed on a world-wide, rather than local or national, basis. More significantly, the term refers to the intertwined pressures of free trade policies, multinational corporations, and concentrations of power in producing a global culture grounded in financial principles and goals”.[2] Hall also defines globalization as the process by which relatively separate areas of the globe come to intersect in a single imaginary “space”.

[3] Globalization is an attempt to merge cultures and activities across the world, thereby defeating national boundaries. The implication of globalization is that the boundaries of societies and cultures are being breached by vast, criss-crossing flow of ideas, images and information, their former impermeability lost for ever. Decolonized- torn from familiar and particular places (Albrow et al., 1997).

Everywhere the once-separate items in the global mosaic of cultures are leaking, merging into one another (Friedman, 1994), losing their distinctiveness. That peculiarity and uniqueness associated with a people and nations are continuously wiped off by globalization.[4]  Also, the concept of globalization can also be applied to cultural products (such as movies or music) or values (such as beliefs about human rights).[5] With all these developments, “nations have become ‘unbound’ and experienced deterritorization as multinational corporations (MNCs) weave chunks of local economies into their own ‘networks… that span their home and host societies” (Basch et al.

, 1994) and as global social movements embedded national citizens in world while commitment.[6] The concept of globalization has reduced the world to a global village, thereby bridging distance, and intangible demarcations in values and tastes across the nations, and submerging their identity in the process. The role, the media has played in navigating this development is what this write-up is all about. As Catherine J.

Danks, rightly observed, “Today’s world of instantaneous electronic communication is very much responsible for the intensity and acceleration of globalization”[7] The media cannot be separated from the global concept evolution and it has been instrumental in propagating the undermining of national identity. In product consumption, development of new taste and preference are influenced by the transnational media organizations. It is no longer a national taste or preference that are peculiar to them, but what is now universally in vogue and available as projected by the multinational media. There is a grand shift in taste The growth and spread of new information media is often seen as part of the globalization of culture, but in fact local cultural traditions are often adapted to the new media.

Field research in some countries shows that they are able to “in some ways adapted the new media to the expression of their own cultural traditions and vice versa.[8] What that means is that some countries are still able to use their local media to retain their own national identity to a great extent, just as they acculturate the influence of the transnational media also. Formally, nations can be easily distinguished by their dressing, food, and product consumption culture. But to a large extent, all these have altered in the face of globalization, and the media is basically the drive behind all these.

Today, articles and commodities, ranging from cars and automobiles, electronics, spare parts, fashions, and other products does not know boundaries anymore in movement, and this has helped to reshape the taste and peculiar identities of nations. There is a loss of national cultural identity when the Asians prefers to dress like the American, and opts for American pop song than his own indigenous music. When the American prefer Japanese cars to American built cars, when Nigerians prefer to buy foreign made goods than their own made in Nigeria products, because the multinational media has painted a glamorous picture of superiority, and fantastic vogue acceptable across the world. When local people are made to believe that everything imported and foreign is best for them, and in the process neglect that which is native and previously acceptable in their local setting.

The dislocation of the popular and everyday life and loss of national identity can go on and on. But these are powers of the media in globalized world In the area of language, many national languages are losing their distinctive purity, and are constantly corrupted by global influence and shifts in taste and fashion brought by globalization. Not only in language has it affected, but almost every social aspects of life. Including sports.

Africans, know much about what is happening in European soccer and the English Premier League, than his own local league. He prefers to watch international pop stars, and can sing virtually every lyric of their songs, but can hardly name a hand few of the local musicians in his nation, let alone sing their songs. These are the power of the transnational media in a globalize world. Channels like, VOA, CNN, BBC, MITV, Internet, Movie Channels, Supper Sports, MNET, and such mega transnational media outfits had overshadowed the influence of the local televisions stations.

 Granted, many countries are struggling to retain their national identity, by setting up policies for local content in television broadcast, and had evolved all manners of restrictions and legislations, But some media houses bypass national boundaries, and nations are helpless in such regards. It is truly an uphill task, Except in some core Islamic nations, and some Middle East countries, who as a mater of attitude hate everything western. Nevertheless, there are areas you cannot but adapt. So the issue is the percentage to which the level of national identity had been lost, as no nation can claim to have completely retained its national identity in the surging invasion of globalization in all facets of its national life.

It is simply not possible. Obviously, that sense of conservatism in which some nations had hitherto guarded their cultures are is beginning to collapse. Core values of traditional practices are collapsing in many places. Teenagers are no longer proud of what is traditionally peculiar to theirs.

The western peer influence as projected by the western media influences the young people. The power of music, video, films and television programs to influence people, particularly young people is never in doubt. But the youths are supposed to be the custodian of national identities. So nations have a crisis in their hands, and sure stand the risk of losing their national identity completely.

But this is not always the case, this is the view of Michael Richards,A number of Asian governments have successfully pursued policies directed at preventing the influence of western media. At its most blunt, authoritarian or semi-authoritarian governments in the region have at times adopted restrictive practices, such as the censorship or banning of satellite television in Singapore and Malaysia. Many nations in the region also operate state-owned television channels which broadcast government-run news shows to counter the influence of western-produced news channels such as CNN. Yet by far, local developments in Asian television do not reflect a deliberate attempt to control thought or ideas, but instead indicate a growing and diverse audience.

The authors point to a number of examples in which western television formats have been adopted and changed to fit indigenous viewing appeal, such as the success of India’s popular music channel, or China’s culturally-specific version of “Sesame Street.” In Taiwan, viewers can watch programs specifically tailored towards ethnic minorities. Throughout the region, television programs based on national folklore and historical myths remain highly-rated and popular among many viewers. Thus, the television experience in Asia seems to indicate that the applicability of the western “media imperialism” model may be limited.

[9] The destruction of national boundaries and the universal influence of media in globalization have been described as modern day imperialism and another form of colonization of the smaller less industrialized nations by the industrialized nations. It is looked upon as media imperialism, cultural imperialism, economic imperialism, social imperialism, among other nomenclatures. And the media is the tool of this spread. It is actively playing pivotal role in the submergence of the national identity of nations into the transnational identities.

To some, globalization means the transfer of ideas and culture from the developed west to the undeveloped world, resulting in a homogenization of consumerist culture across borders that threatens to disrupt and permanently alter indigenous values      [1] Tim Edensor, National Identity, Popular Culture and  Everyday Life. Oxford: Berg  Inten’l Publishers Ltd, June 2002. Pp.224[2] www.[3] Hall “1995 190) Quoted in Catherine J. Danks, Paul Kenedy Eds.

Globalization and National Identities, New York: Palgrave Publishers, 2001. Pp256.[4] Ibid. Pp1.


htm[6] IbidPp1.[7] Op. cit.[8] The Middle East Journal: New Media, Globalization and Kuwait National Identity.

ISSN 26-3141, (Middle East). Sourse:200, Vol. 54 No. 3, Pp 432.[9] Michael Richards & David French, Globalization and Television: Comparative Perspectives,12 THE CYPRUS REVIEW 11-26 (2000). 

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