Due to the increasing compression in space and time enabled by telecommunications infrastructure
and their associated forms of media – especially the Internet, mobile phones and the new media,
globalisation is becoming a prominent theme running throughout many areas, including politics,
economics and culture. At the same time, in the new era of digitalisation, globalisation is strongly
influencing all aspects of media production, distribution and consumption. This relationship between
the media and globalisation can be positive in many respects, and negative in others.
The purpose of this essay is to critically analyse the dominant theoretical paradigms in attempt to
understand various global phenomena, including the importance of communications and media in
global economy and culture. This essay is also aimed at analysing the reasons why globalisation is
becoming an intensified concern, what will our world is constantly transforming into under the
impacts of globalisation, and the complexities involved in studying the media in a global context.
Globalisation: Definition and major dimensions
Though many scholars have established the notion of globalisation and introduced it recently, as
well as placing the origin of globalisation in modern times, globalization indeed has a long history
dating back to the 16th century, to industrialisation & colonisation in the 17-19 centuries. Other
scholars have even traced origins of globalisation long before the discovery of Europe and voyages
to the New World, some even to the third millennium BC.
Large-scale globalisation began a few decades before the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, when the connectivity of world’s economies and cultures increased rapidly. The term
globalisation is recent established with its present meaning during the past economic liberalisation
process in the past decades. In short, globalisation is a process in which economic, political and
cultural activities take place in a global space, are deliberately organised on a global scale, and are
globally interdependent. Some examples: Global companies, global products, global sourcing of
inputs, global currencies, global banking, global foreign-exchange markets, global governance
agencies, global civic organisations, global consciousness etc.
The accompanying, however, is a conceptual matrix with similar concepts which are often used but
are not conclusively characterized the nature of globalisation. Some notable concepts include:
o “Internationalisation” – the growth of interaction and interdependence between people in
different countries. In economics, it can be considered as the process of increasing the
involvement of enterprises in international markets.
o “Liberalisation” – the process of creating an open, “borderless” world economy through the
removing or loosening of political restrictions on transboundary movements of resources.
o “Universalisation” – the process of spreading materials, tangible or invisible objects and
experiences from one place to all over the world.
o “Westernisation” – the process of homogenisation by Western culture and values of non-
Western countries. This concept will attach to a topic that this essay discusses further when
analysing the term globalisation – “a global village”.
Observing in an overall point of view, due to advances in transport (such as steam and jet engines as
well as container ships) and in communication technologies and telecommunications infrastructure
(including the rise of the telegraph, the Internet and smartphones), the interdependence of economic
and cultural activities has increased and formed globalisation as the creation of a process of
deterritorialisation – the growth of trans-border relations: the traditional territory is significantly less
important, giving way to the rise of a single place or a trans-border space (Scholte, 2000). Global
exchange is now trans-bordered without distance; not cross-bordered over distance.
In conclusion, globalisation is the increasing interaction, or exchange in respects of economy and
culture, of people through the growth of international transferability of money, ideas, experiences
and cultural values. Globalisation often comes in as an economic process of integration – involving
goods and services, and the economic resources of capital, technology and data – that has noticeable
social and cultural effects. From this definition, this essay also subdivides and discusses
globalisation into two major dimensions: economic globalization and cultural globalisation.
o Economic globalisation refers to the growing economic integration and interdependence of
national, regional and local economies through the intensified free movement of goods, capital,
services, technology and information. Economic globalisation primarily comprises the
globalisation of production, finance, markets, technology, organizational regimes, institutions,
corporations, and labour. The expanding of economic globalisation has been largely supported
by developed economies integrating with majority world through foreign direct investment and
lowering operation costs, reduction of trans-national trade barriers and cross-border migration.
Economic globalization can make huge impacts on global economic growth and poverty
reduction, labor unions, capital flight, tax havens etc, even inequality and raising voices from
developing countries, including both emerging and frontier markets.
o Cultural globalisation refers to the transmission of ideas, meanings and values around the
world in ways that expand and strengthen social relations. This process is marked by the
consumption of cultures that have been diffused by the Internet, pop culture media and mass
international tourism. Individuals now are allowed to engage in extended social relations that
are crossing the national and regional borders. Cultural globalisation includes the formation of
common norms and the knowledge in which people associate their individual and collective
The concept of a global village, Westernisation and key perspectives of cultural globalisation
such as hybridization and homogenisation will be discussed below.
A global village
The infamous Marshall McLuhan, who was celebrated as the man who foresaw many tremendous
and transformative impacts that the Internet poses to us, coined a catchy, influential phrase related to
globalisation: “a global village”.
Advanced media technologies – satellite technology and the Internet – have transformed
immigrants’ relations with their sending and receiving societies. According to McLuhan, this
liberating force known as global media is paving the way for the rise of a “global village”, in which
people understand and interact with each other in the most profound and extreme ways. In the
“global village”, differences and conflicts are eliminated and replaced by mutual understanding and
responsibility for cooperation, thanks to the same approaches to shared imagery and products on
media as well as democratic participation and debate in a universally and equally accessible public
sphere. This cooperation is also supported by a new concept of imagined communities: since
immigrants are now enabled to “imagine” their native national communities from afar, almost as if
they never left their homelands, new trans-national typologies of immigrants are created as a result:
the sojourner, the member of an ethnic community and the long-distance national.
There are many ideas that unify the concept of a global village with a Westernised village, or even
an Americanised one. It comes from the forward pattern and dominant trend of the cultural shift
from the developed Western countries to the rest of the world. Within Western countries, cultural
products flow from United States to other countries. There are not so many players in this field but a
few transnational media corporations to possess a wide range of media products. An example since
2000s, the golden age of exploded digital content and services, AOL – Time Warner has owned
AOL, Home Box Office, New Line Cinema, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable, Turner Broadcasting
System, The CW, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Cartoon Network and CNN at the same time.
Currently when humanity is approaching a digitalisation era in which start-up companies appear
constantly and M&A processes also happen with a dense frequency, this trend becomes more and
more obvious. Technology giants like Google and Facebook own many subsidiaries: companies like
Youtube, Android, Google, Maps etc. by Google; or Facebook with successful acquisitions
(Occulus) as well as failed ones (Snapchat).
Together with this transformation, some Western cultural values are being promoted and causing
loss of cultural diversity and cultural autonomy, such as materialism, consumerism and
individualism. In terms of business, organisations now operate with profit-making motives and
“more out of less” business strategies: there are no global regulations to force them to cater for the
interests of less affluent ”villagers”. However, no subscription to the dark sides only, all cultures
will avoid to insert incompatible cultural traits and have selective adaptation to outside efforts of
cultural invasion, then form a cultural hybridization process instead. For example, the rise of
Bollywood in European countries, online information flow from the developing world to targeted
audiences in the developed world, and non-US media outlets still serve American audiences e.g.
American users account for 73% of unique users at Independent.co.uk, 39% of FT.com and
Guardian.co.uk, 36% of Scotsman.com (Thurman, 2007).
There are a series of different reasons why an interest in globalisation has intensified
The development of the modern nation-state has been closely linked to the broadening of
geographical reach of industrial capitalism: the exploitation of resources, the exploitation of labor,
the creation of cross-border international markets and the spread of cultural practice from the West.
The idea that we are in a world that interlocks, that has elements of transnationalism is not a new
one. However, as Robertson (1997) points out, the emergence of global economic systems in the
1970s and 80s brought a new level of concern and intensity to the globalisation problematic. These
developments have been observed and analysed by many critics and sociologists, most notably
McLuhan, and principally focused on two phenomena which are related to two dimensions of
o Economic globalisation: considering trans-national corporations through the globalisation of
capital and production, involving technology and data.
o Cultural globalisation: the transformations in the global scope of the mass media with deep
influences to the way people create and exchange ideas or experiences.
The reasons will be organised into two groups: economic reasons and cultural reasons too.
Economic reasons: increased economic interdependence; trans-national labour flows and
migrations; global trade agreements; global brands and worldwide corporate enterprise and multi-
continental flows of capital, services, manufacture, goods, data, & telecommunications.
Globalisation is becoming more important than ever when all the business strategies of transnational
corporations consider this factor. Multinational companies have applied strategies such as
integrating hyper-local (linguistic, cultural and political) elements into global products to serve
unique geospatial entities, such as McDonald’s or KFC with numerous menus and dishes in different
countries. Another example is global F brands such as Coke or Nestle have flavours that satisfy
the tastes of indigenous peoples: pomegranate soft drinks in the Egypt country in which this fruit is
common, or matcha flavored Kit Kat in Japan. In addition, the “corporate social responsibility”
projects (the ethical duty to make the world a better place) are increasingly upheld by corporations
to meet with pressures from anti-globalisation movements, also to build an activist brand and
Cultural reasons: trans-border passage of social movements; common patterns of material and
cultural consumption; mass tourism; deregulation and reregulation of broadcasting systems global
genres (soap operas and reality shows) and the most notable one: converging media technologies.
Central to many of the attempts to draw significance from changes caused by globalisation has been
a study of technological and information flows in media and communications industries. Again, the
media and telecommunications have operated on an increasingly global scale for a long time e.g. the
film industry has distributed its products on an international basis since the First World War, with
Hollywood enjoying its ‘Golden Age’ in the 1930s; or simultaneous television broadcasts have been
with us since the 1960s. In the 2000s, there are also great changes in people’s social lives with the
increasing use of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace; later Instagram, Snapchat and
online dating apps which changed the way we meet and interact with new people in such a profound
way that we call 2010s the “Tinderization” era. Enabled by new communication technologies,
especially the Internet, the lifestyle and relationships of human is now more interactive, temporally
and spatially independent, more instant and decent.
Also, as mentioned in the introduction, the media – as the major vehicle for transmitting cultural
values – are ”the shock troops of (a) global cultural revolution” (Curran & Seaton, 1997, p. 245).
Global media have contributed to the re-organisation of space and time in our everyday lives to
produce shared cultural practices, in a process one sociologist, George Ritzer (1993), has termed
‘MacDonaldization’ (uniform packaging, standardized methods of service, and everything organised
in terms of a model). This leads to an emerging global citizenry that based on cultural consumption
in the global marketplace e.g. E-commerce, the ordering of goods from the Internet, has become part
of our lives and online shopping offer a marketplace in which private people and big businesses
alike can choose the cheapest prices. This electronic world is not only transforming organisations
since a new set of rules for business is developed, but also results to some consequences:
unemployed labours, job losses, disappearances of whole areas of business, since all parts of the
company can be done quicker and cheaper via new technology: administration, logistics, sales and
acquisitions – everything.
There is also a new definition of “prosumers”: the group of users who no longer merely consume
products but also produce media content that bring advocacy benefits to brands, such as bloggers,
online forum participants or personal website authors.
In the past two decades, the globalising process has developed with an unimagined speed and
flexibility. To look at both the dark and bright sides of its economic and cultural impacts,
globalisation have been hailed as bringing us more diversity, more possibilities for participation in
communication; new structures and legal requirements in the media and communications industry,
and furthermore, consequences for the whole of society.
A good knowledge of the various theoretical approaches to globalisation will promisingly to be the
basis for those who highly involved in studying the media and internet to strategically establish the
very first initiatives of opportunities and hopes for the future.