International Communication Theory by suchenfz

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     Tomasz Płudowski, Ph.D.
Collegium Civitas, October 20, 2005
• Process Whereby World Is Made into
  Single Place with Systemic Differences

• Elements: Transborder Capital, Labor,
  News, Images, Information Flows

• Main Engines: TNCs, TMOs
 Media Globalization Aspects
• Space-time Compression
• Changing Working Habits
• Information Accessibility in Most Remote
• Impact on Local Cultures
• Media Events Providing Common
  Experience and Uniting Globe
Limitations of Global Village
Uneven Access to Information

• Media Distribution per 1,000 citizens

• Knowledge Gap
Media Distribution per 1,000




   Pakistan   India   Japan
Unbalanced Flow of Information

• World’s News Agencies
• Monopoly Control over Flow from and to
  Developing Countries
• North-North
• North-South
• South-South
Structure of Global News Flow

        North       North

        South       Soth
    New International Information and
         Communication Order
   UNESCO Conference, Belgrade, 1980

• Elimination of Present Inbalances and
• Elimination of Negative Effects of Certain
  Monopolies & Exessive Concentrations
• Removal of Obstacles to Balanced
  Dissemination of Information
  New International Information
          Order, contd.

• Plurality of Sources & Channels of
• Freedom of Press & of Information
• Freedom of Journalists
• Developing Countries to Improve
• Sincere Will of Developed Countries to
  New International Information
          Order, contd.

• Respect for Each People’s Cultural
  Identity and Right of Each Nation to Inform
  World about its Interests, Aspirations and
• Respect of Right of All Peoples to
  Participate in International Exchanges of
  Information on Basis of Equality, Justice
  and Mutual Benefit
•   In the past, much of the IC debate focuse
    on the NWICO, which respresents:

1) An evolutionary process seeking a more
   just and equitable balance in the flow
   and content of information
2) A right to national sefl-determination of
   domestic communication policies

3) At the international level, a two-way
   information flow reflecting more
   accurately the aspirations and activities
   of less developed countries (LDCs)

                Ultimate goal:
restructured system of media and
telecommunications priorities in order for
LDCs to obtain greater influence over their
media, information, economic, cultural,
and political systems
       Conflict over NWICO
• LDCs postulate measures that clash with
  strongly held journalistic traditions and
  practices in the West:
  – Government control of the media
  – Limited reporter access to events
  – Journalistic codes
  – Licensing of reporters
  – Taxation of the broadcast spectrum
Balanced Flow of Information

• Approved by UNESCO in the 1970s

• Even that idea criticized as interference
  with free flow and free market
  mechanisms. Only an open and free flow
  of information is consistent with the goals
  of a truly free press

• Not merely a theoretical issue

• Used to legitimize a governmental role in
  disseminating information in several
  states, notably in Africa (in Liberia
  journalists need permits to cover
  information, no permit ever given to use
  the Internet)
  International News in Western

• The average mass circulation newspaper
  in the West carries less international news
  than ten years ago (with the exception of
  time around 9/11)
Reasons for less international

– Costs ($250,000 per year to place an equip
– Restrictions from censorship to jailing
– High turnover of foreign correspondents
– Trend toward ”parachute journalism”-flocks
  descending in scenes of conflict to trivialize
  and sensationalize complex issues
– Lack of public concern, as reflected in the
  trend toward light, fluffy, and trendy journalism
Changes in International Media
     in 1980s and 1990s
         American Media
• Background
• Deregulation
• Unprecedented Corporate Growth
          Media Research
• Most research looks at micro issues such
  – agenda-setting
  – Violence
  – Ownership
  Or a specific medium such as:
  – Print
  – Television
NWICO offers a macro approach,

  so do the following theories:
       Theories of International

•   Electronic Colonialism Theory (ECT)
•   World-System Theory (WST)
•   Free Flow of Information
•   Modernization Theory
•   Dependency Theory
•   Structural Imperialism
        Theories of International
         Communication, cntd
•   Hegemony
•   Critical Theory
•   The Public Sphere
•   Cultural Studies perspectives
•   Theories of the Information Society
•   Discourses of Globalization
•   A Critical Political-economy of the 21st
 Electronic Colonialism Theory

• Throughout history there have been few
  successful efforts at empire building:

  – Military Colonialism (B.C.-1,000 A.D.)
    The expansion of the Roman empire
    throughout most of what is today Europe
    during the Greco-Roman period
– Christianity Colonialism (1,000-1,600)
  Militant Christianity of the Crusades that
  sought to control territory from Europe to
  Middle East. Beginning 1095, 200 years of
  crusades led to the establishment of new
  European colonies in the ME. The territories
  were seized from Muslims as Western
  civilization became the dominant international
– Mercantile Colonialism (1,600-1,950)
  Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas
  became objects of conquest by European powers that
  sought markets, raw materials, and other goods
  unavailable at home in return sending colonial
  administrators, immigrants, a language, educational
  system, religion, philosophy, high culture, and a
  lifestyle that frequently were inappropriate for the
  invaded country. International status was a function of
  the number and location of one’s foreign colonies
– Electronic Colonialism (1950-Present)

In 1950s and 1960s rise of nationalism in
developing countries and a shift to a
service-based, information economy in the
West set the stage for the fourth and
current era of empire expansion
   Electronic Colonialism
Represents the dependent relationship of
LDCs on the West established by the
importation of communication hardware
and foreign-produced software, along with
engineers, technicians, and related
information protocols, that establish a set
of foreign norms, values, habits, values,
and expectations that, to varying degrees,
alter domestic cultures, habits, values, and
the socialization process.
Electronic Colonialism Theory
The concern is that this new foreign
information will cause the displacement,
rejection, alteration, or forgetting of native
or indigenous customs, domestic
messages, and cultural history. LDCs fear
EC as much as MC. Whereas MC sought
cheap labor, EC seeks minds. It is aimed
at influencing attitudes, desires, beliefs,
lifestyles, and consumer behavior.
Electronic Colonialism Theory
As the citizens of LDCs are increasingly
viewed through the prism of consumerism,
control of their values and purchasing
patterns becomes increasingly important
to multinational firms. Tools: Western
media messages, e.g. at its peak in mid-
1990s, Baywatch was watched by more
than 1 billion people a week in nearly 150
Electronic Colonialism Theory

EC relies on the long-term consequences
of exposure to these media images and
messages to extend the West’s market’s,
power, and influence.
       World-System Theory
• Provides the concepts, ideas, and language for
  structuring international communication. WST
  was proposed and developed by Immanuel
• WST proposes that global economic expansion
  takes place from a relatively small group of core
  zone nation-states out to two other zones of
  nations-states, these being in the semi-
  peripheral and peripheral zones
       World-System Theory
• It is assumed that the zones exhibit unequal and
  uneven economic relations, with the core
  nations being the dominant and controlling
  economic entity.
• Core nations
  – exert control and define the nature and extent of
    interactions with the other two zones
  – provide technology, software, capital, knowledge,
    finished goods, and services to the other zones which
    function as consumers and markets
         World-System Theory
• Core
  – Capital-intensive, high-wage,high-technology
    production involving low labor exploitation and
• Periphery
  – Labor-intensive, low-wage, low-technology production
    involving high labor exploitation and coercion
• Semi-periphery
  – Core-like actiivties, periphery-like activities
World-System Theory

                 Core Nations (30+)

                 Nations (20+)
                 Peripheral Nations
   Free Flow of Information
The concept reflected Western, and specifically US,
antipathy to state regulation and censorship of the
media. It was part of the liberal, free market discourse
designed in the post-WWII bi-polar world of free market
capitalism and state socialism. As such it was part of the
Cold War discourse. The FFI doctrine assisted the West
in advertising and marketing their goods in foreign
markets, in ensuring continuing influence of Western
media on global markets, and in strengthening the West
in its ideological battle with the Soviet Union. Also helped
communicate, in subtle rather than direct ways, US
government’s points of view to international audiences
       Modernization Theory
• Complimentary to the doctrine of free flow in the
  post-war years was the view that international
  communication was the key to the process to the
  modernization and development of the so-called
  ‘Third World.’
• Daniel Lerner, MIT, The Passing of Traditional
  Society (1958)- early 1950s research into
  audience exposure to radio in Turkey, Lebanon,
  Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iran. Hypothesis:
  exposure to the media made traditional societies
  less bound by tradition and made them aspire to
  a new and modern way of life.

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