This is my first post for International Media and Communication, so I’d firstly like to introduce myself and welcome you into my blog! My name is Vera, I’m an exchange student from the University of Bologna, Italy, where I’m attending a master degree in Mass Media and Politics. I live here for a month and I really appreciate the opportunities and experiences the University of Wollongong is giving to me!
As an international student, I can suggest that globalization is an overwhelming process, which started decades ago as an economic agreement among countries. Thinking to what the german Karl Marx in his “Capital” said, a new agent appeared due to the industrial revolution, the Capitalism, indeed, which shaked up the relationships between workers and capitalists. No more human relationships, capitalism alienated men and turned everything into a commodity. In “Modernity at large: Cultural Dimension of Globalization” Arjun Appadurai argues that what Karl Marx used to call “fetishism of the commodity” has been replaced by “two mutually supportive descendants”, that are production fetishism and the fetishism of the consumer. What do they mean? The term “fetishism” derives from the Latin “feticious”, which means “artificial” and it referes to objects belived to have supernatural powers, which can influence men’s lives. Consequently, both producers and consumers have the capacity to influence each other, they are strictly linked. And this is a consequence of globalized world, indeed.
Globalization as an economic phenomenon, but not only.
Globalization refers to an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political, and military interests
This is the definition given by Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler in “Media and Society”, chapter 25. What gives sense to the globalization is the existence of an international community, which can be regarded as a “global village” or an “imagined community”. These are the definitions of Marshall McLuhan and Benedict Anderson, respectively. In my opinion, these are very interesting points of viewing globalization. We live in a global village, indeed, that is global thanks to technoligical innovations which are gradually reducing distances among people, improving their communication skills and tools. It seems that we live in the same village, where we think local but act global, as Manuel Castell suggests in “Challenges of Globalization”. A global village but also an imagined community, where we have no idea of our boundaries but we think to the world in terms of equality and sociability.
We live at full blast. Whatever happens in the world is immediatly knowable thanks to social media and media news. Technology is shaping our lives and we are part of a cultural industry that sells us as a commodity. This is a crucial point. Is globalization levelling off us? Are we just a commodity? An answer can be found in another important concept that is “cultural imperialism”. It is, according to Herbert Schiller in his essay “Communication and cultural domination”, “a form of transnational corporate cultural dimension”. This affects the cultural diversity and freedom of expression of each person, damaging tha capacity of making a proper personal identity. An example? Think of the power of Hollywood or of some corporations like Mc Donald: they dominate our lives and we cannot live without them. We cannot live without our Big Mac or “Game of Thrones” series. Or maybe we could live without them but we do not want. Too much effort.
Am I too negative? It might be so, but as one of the most important american writer, James Branch Cabell, said, “the optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true”. I absolutely argue with the idea that our world is the best of all possible and globalization is what made it so! I am an international student, as I said above, and I would have never been here if our world was not globalized! I’m part of that ethnoscape described by Appadurai and I’m so happy for this! Nonetheless, I belive that we should be able to make our own identity and don’t forget our origins and cultures.
We do not have only to think local and act global, but we have also to think global and act local, that is the purpose aiming my life and my experiences here in Wollongong!
Karl Marx, “Capital”, 1867
Arjun Appadurai, “Modernity at large: Cultural Dimension of Globalization”, The University of Chicago, American Journal of Sociology Vol. 103, No. 5 (March 1998), pp. 1411-1412
Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler, “Media and Society”, Oxford University Press, 2008
Marshall McLuhan, Routledge and Kegan Paul, “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man”, London, 1962
Benedict Anderson, “Imagined community: reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism”, London, 1983
Manuel Castells, “Think local Act global”, in J. Muller, N.Cloete & S.Badat (eds), Challenges of globalisation: South African Debates with Manuel Castells, Cape Town Maskew Miller Longman, 2001
Herbert Schiller, M.E. Sharp, “Communication and cultural domination”, International Journal of Politics Vol. 5, No. 4, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURAL DOMINATION, 1975/1976, pp. 1-127
James Branch Cabell, “The silver stallion”, Del Rey, 1979