The Lines Between (Technological) Borders

“Each technological development has led to increasing levels of global interrelatedness…”

Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler have openly acknowledged in their paper (2008, p. 458) that we must embrace the inescapable blurring of the lines between national identities when it comes to technological evolvement. However, the extent to which this blurring-of-the-borders occurs has been seen as an ultimatum between cultural domination and global interaction, as particularly viewed through the means of media globalisation. So at what point should we judge interconnectedness enriched by mass media as either an opportunity for global interaction or social exclusion? 

Appadurai’s five dimensions that define the ‘elementary framework’ of global cultural flows, explore the term ‘technoscapes’ in relation to its role in becoming “central to the politics of global culture (1996, p. 301).” Due to the “sheer speed, scale and volume (1996, p. 301)” of this flow, technology can now move across “various kinds of impervious boundaries (1996, p. 297)” and as a result, leads to the global dissemination of information. In relation to the media, the forever evolving globalisation of communication suggests that technoscapes open doors to participation in the public (or rather global) sphere. Here, technology can be seen to literally prompt the global interaction between cultures and more importantly, encourage participation in generating debate about worldwide issues.

This global interaction between international identities has undoubtedly been stimulated by the availability and access of not only technology, but also the varying media platforms that exist. As discussed in Media and the Common Good, in referring to a study concerned with the effects of mass media in Kenyathe outcomes of media globalisation include its ability to “pluralise, invigorate and render the media space participatory, interactive and democratic.” Furthermore, it concluded that the globalisation process allows “global media to avail itself of media services (2010, p. 26)” to a global audience.

The term ‘media services’ can most relevantly be applied to the 2010 catastrophic Haiti earthquake that saw tragic circumstances evoke an international response. Shani Orgad writes that through fierce media coverage of this event, it attracted $9.9 billion worth of relief from the global public. Furthermore, he astutely writes that the media, in this situation, can see global collaboration bring about a “sense of ‘humanity’ as a universal identity (Orgad, 2012).” 

However, it is critical to acknowledge that this interconnectedness is not a perfect picture. O’Shaughnessy and Stadler make the obvious point that people who do not have access to such emerging technologies, suffer the ‘digital divide (2008, p. 456).’ Through this social exclusion, it also brings into question cultural imperialism and how media representations can implicate its diversity. Thus, this can lead to the “fear of cultural adsorption (1996, p. 295) as Appadurai explains, where the ‘tension’ between cultural homogenisation and heterogenisation will perpetually divide opinions on media globalisation effects.

So is media globalisation an opportunity for global interaction or social exclusion? Honestly, it seems that these binary oppositions will inevitably be subject to much debate due to the fact that globalisation is a highly complex process. Instead, we should acknowledge that technological developments both eradicate and inaugurate the methods of international relations. For as Terhi Rantanen simply writes, “the consequences of globalisation is not homogenisation nor heterogenisation, but both of these, either simultaneously or sequentially (2005, p. 116).”

Appadurai A, 1996, Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy, University of Minnesota Press, London pp. 295-301

Franceschi L, Mwita C, 2010, Media and the Common Good: Perspectives on Media, democracy and responsibility, Strathmore University, Nairobi Kenya p. 26

Organ S, 2012, Media Representation and the Global Imagination, Polity Press, Cambridge UK

O’Shaughnessy M, Stadler J, 2008, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Victoria Australia pp. 456-458

Rantanen T, 2005, The Media and Globalisation, Athenaeum Press, Gateshead England p. 116


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