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Notes on Norris and Inglehart (2009) Cosmopolitan Communications

March 18, 2010

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart. 2009. Cosmopolitan Communications: Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 1. Is Cultural Diversity Under Threat?

5 What happens when countries like Bhutan or remote areas of Africa adopt TV, the Internet, mobiles? Do these processes of adoption undermine national cultural diversity and lead to global cultural convergence? Heavily debated issue of cultural imperialism, Coca-Colonization, etc.

6 Book starts assuming that globalization is indeed profoundly affecting mass comm. This is a multidimensional (social, economic, political) phenomenon. 9 They chose term ‘cosmopolitan communications’ to signal phenomena broader than ‘transnational media’ (CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters), namely ‘the way we learn about, and interact, with people and places beyond the borders of our nation-state’.

9 In Western Europe, height of modern era of national comms from early C20 to early 1980s: in most countries public service corps had virtual monopolies within their respective states; followed BBC template. 11 In 1980s and 1990s many countries liberalised PSB and telecomms monopolies; boom in commercial radio and TV channels and telecomms. Plus there was huge spread of new ICTs across national borders from mid-1990s.

12 So what have been consequences of this media and comm expansion for national cultures, specifically on national audiences? Four main theories:

1) Convergence of national cultures around Western values (LA effect): cultural imperialism/Americanization thesis

2) Polarization of national cultures (Taliban effect): people can resist and reject alien media messages and values

3) Fusion of national cultures (Bangalore effect): hybridity, multidirectional flows prevail

4) Firewall model of conditional effects (authors’ proposed theory), i.e. national cultures far better insulated from the impact of cosmopolitan communication than previously thought.

Chapter 11. Implications for Cultural Policies

309 Empirical evidence presented in this study shows that ‘both developing societies and Western societies are changing in ways shaped by broad forces of modernization, while retaining distinctive national cultures’. US and UK, Sweden and Germany, South Korea and Japan don’t share a homogeneous ‘Western culture’ – all following own trajectories.

309 Rich countries changing more rapidly than most poor countries. But careful not to exaggerate media importance – media globalisation is only part of the equation.

310 ‘Britain is not Germany. Sweden is not Spain…Canada is not the United States…The people of the world have come to share certain cultural icons and contemporary fashions, and increasing amounts of information and ideas about people and places, but this does not mean that they will lose their cultural heritage’.


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