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The Myth of Media Globalization



The Myth of Media Globalization

Kai Hafez

ISBN: 978-0-745-65809-4 July 2013 Polity 232 Pages

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The ongoing interconnection of the world through modern mass media is generally considered to be one of the major developments underpinning globalization. This important book considers anew the globalization phenomenon in the media sphere.

Rather than heralding globalization or warning of its dangers, as in many other books, Kai Hafez analyses the degree to which media globalization is really taking place. Do we have enough evidence to show that there is a linear and accelerated move towards transnationalization in the media?

All too often the empirical data presented seems rather more anecdotal than representative. Many transborder media phenomena are overestimated and taken out of the context of locally and nationally oriented mainstream media processes all over the world. The inherent danger is that a central paradigm of the social sciences, rather than bearing scholarly substance, will turn out to be a myth and even a sometimes dangerously ideological tool.

Based on a theoretical debate of media globalization, the work discusses most major fields of media development, including foreign reporting, satellite TV, film, internet, foreign broadcasting, media and migration, media policy and media economy. As an important new contribution to timely debates, The Myth of Media Globalization will be essential and provocative reading for students and scholars alike.

List of Figures and Tables vii

Introduction 1

1 Theory – Structural Transformation of the Global Public Sphere? 7

2 International Reporting – ‘No Further than Columbus . . .’ 24

3 Satellite Television – the Renaissance of World Regions 56

4 Film and Programme Imports – Entertainment Culture as the Core of Media Globalization 82

5 The Internet – the Information Revolution Which Came Too Late for the ‘Third Wave of Democratization’ 100

6 International Broadcasting – from National Propaganda to Global Dialogue and Back Again 118

7 Media and Immigration – Ethnicity and Transculturalism in the Media Age 128

8 Media Policy – why the State Continues to Play a Role 142

9 Media Capital – the Limits of Transnationalization 158

Conclusion: Globalization – a Necessary Myth 167

Notes 175

Bibliography 197

Internet Sources 214

Index 217

“This book carefully picks asunder some of the key assumptions embedded in the accepted debate about globalization. The radical contribution of this fine book is its meticulous examination of evidence used in the mainstream globalization debate. Hafez insists, convincingly, that this myth is riddled with perceptual errors, ideological projections and political interests. This book is a well-argued, much-needed intervention that pleads for better scholarship to illuminate the ‘necessary myth’ of globalization.”
Prof. Farrell Corcoran, Dublin City University
in: Global Media and Communication

“The book offers a good combination of theoretical and empirical response to the mainstream debate about globalization challenges the easy assumption that the advance of globalization is inevitably taking over the world with enormous influence on different societies in terms of national politics, cultures and economy. What Hafez manages to achieve in this book is to affirm that there are no truly transnational media, and that the ultimate power in media regulation remains in national hands. We are yet to see the emergence of a global public sphere. Along with this interesting and useful argument that is not so ‘conventional’, this book offers a thorough review of the mainstream debate over globalization and its influence over the world, which I feel will be very useful. A major virtue of this book is that it does not only look into the cultural dimension of globalization, but also into the economic implications and impacts upon national politics, media policies and news and information.”
Dr. Lian Zhu, Bournemouth University
in: European Journal of Communication

“Hafez definitely succeeds at what he sets out to do: to critically summarize and assess the available empirical evidence of the various dimensions of media globalization using a system theory framework. The emphasis on actual empirical evidence for key statements in globalization scholarship is refreshing, and this book is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about media globalization. Recommended.”
Dr. Henrik Örnebring, University of Oxford
in: Hot Topics in Journalism and Mass Communication

“Given the scope and clarity, I would not hesitate to assign the book in upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses. Hafez delivers an airtight argument to respond to declarations about the new role of the ‘global media’ in a post-everything era.”
Prof. Silvio Waisbord, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
in: British Journal of Sociology

“To his immense credit, Hafez has attempted to provide not only a balanced survey of most of the existing literature on the topic, but also a carefully structured narrative that touches on most of the relevant aspects of the subject. Hafez declares at the outset his intention to recuperate the concept of globalization through theoretical refinement and empirical evidence. He is right in his estimation that such a reworking of what constitutes 'global' developments is a prerequisite to the evaluation of the debates on global media. Hafez's is a timely, careful, and important intervention, presented in a style that invites a readership that will include both students and researchers.”
Ramaswami Harindranath, University of Melbourne
in: Fifth-Estate-Online - International Journal of Radical Mass Media Criticism

„Ein atemloses Buch, das anhand zahlreicher Beispiele zeigt, wie Regionalismus und Lokalität gestärkt werden. Zugleich entlarvt es damit den Mythos von einer globalen Vereinheitlichung der Kultur und der Lebensweisen. Eine anregende Lektüre.”
Lothar Mikos
in: tv diskurs, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Medien

“Drawing on a tradition of revisionist scholarship, this argument represents a welcome balance to the widespread globalization-as-given narrative that has frequently dominated both academic and popular discussions of the issue. Also valuable is Hafez’s focus on a wide range of issues compared to more narrowly focused accounts of media globalization.”
Kalyani Chadha, University of Maryland
in: The Information Society

“The Myth of Media Globalization undoubtedly offers an important contribution to the fields of mass and media communications, and will prove useful to those dedicated to studying the political implications of media globalization. Its deft maneuvering between research materials and media platforms opens itself up to broad range of applications. And it provides a crucial reminder that our critical evaluations, whether they focus on film, television, new media, cultural representation and/or political economy, could always stand to be more nuanced by the historical and material realities of the global audiovisual landscape.”
Patty Jeehyun Ahn, University of Southern California
in: European Journal of Cultural Studies

“Hafez raises many important questions in a sober and critical way, without ever preaching. He shows a critical detachment that is further enhanced by the fact that he, unlike many of his colleagues, always keeps a focus on the way the individual interacts with the media. No matter what topic he discusses – the digital divide, xenophobia, or the new world order in the information age – Hafez never losses sight of the individuals who are hit by the wave of globalization and always insists on their (partial) immunity to the insinuations of global communication.”
Dr. Stephan Weichert, Institute for Media Policy, Berlin
in: Political Communication (also: Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft)

“Hafez’ book is an excellent introduction to the core issues at stake in media globalization and brings together an excellent array of case studies and alternative points of view to make a highly useful contribution to the ongoing discussion of globalization.”
Prof. Kaalev Leetaru
University of Illinois, USA

“Hafez' book is well written. The point is made convincingly that so far no global public sphere has been established. Therefore it seems too early to talk about a paradigmatic change of the global communication system. Nevertheless, Hafez argues, the myth of globalizatin has been helpful for a better understanding of global processes.”
Prof. Dr. Hans Kleinsteuber
University of Hamburg, Germany

“Globalization is understood to change space and time, economy, national societies and culture. Kai Hafez shows that one cannot speak in general about such a globalization of media. To a large extent, media are targeted and used by local and regional groups, and they mainly refer to local and regional processes. The author introduces a lot of new ideas in the discussion. In its critics of hasty concepts and conclusions, the book will be of high importance for the ongoing discussion on globalization and on the role of civil society.”
Prof. Dr. Friedrich Krotz
University of Erfurt, Germany

“The publication of Kai Hafez’s ‘The Myth of Media Globalization’ represents a valuable addition to the growing body of literature that challenges the easy assumptions of globalization theory. In a series of well-researched chapters, Hafez demonstrates that many of the commonplace assertions about the media and globalization, for example the emergence of a global public sphere, are lacking in any empirical support. As he puts it ‘the fundamental character of ego-centric national media systems remains untouched’. So, too, he demonstrates that the decisive levers of power in media regulation remain in national hands. This book will certainly become a ‘must read’ for any student working in the field.”
Prof. Colin Sparks
University of Westminster, London

  • A provocative and original assessment of a key contemporary topic: the globalization of the media
  • Rather than simply heralding globalization or warning of its dangers, the book analyses the extent to which media globalization is really taking place
  • Because of its controversial stance, the book is likely to be used on a range of courses, primarily global media or cultural studies, but also international communications, war reporting and politics
  • Crammed full of examples and includes a guide to internet resources for further study