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Media Imperialism Revisited
• Functions of Media?
• Links between Media and Development?
• What is “Media Imperialism” and why is it so
• Evidence for and against the MI thesis
• What are the alternative frameworks?
Functions of Media?
What are the functions of Media?
Media and the
Links between Media and
Paradigms of Development
– Western societies as a model
– emphasis on economic
World systems perspective –
development defined in terms of
center and periphery
– Causes of underdevelopment
inherent in the countries
Underdevelopment ascribed to the
industrialized capitalist powers of the
– Focus onMass media
accorded a central
– Emphasis on individual
role in the
– Vertical pattern of
communication – from the
elite to the people.
The mass media
Information gaps – underdevelopment
dominance of the
in the periphery is prerequisite to
development in the center
metropole over its
A country in the periphery must strive
for self-reliance and liberation from
the world system
Emphasis on social equality.
Emergence of the Media Imperialism
• international character of the media, their structures,
world-views and markets
• One way flow of media
• Globalization: concentration of media ownership,
monopolization of markets, and a decline in diversity
• Emergence of the information society
• Self-reliance and cultural identity
• Key assumptions?
• What are the links between globalization,
neoliberalism and media imperialism ?
• Why is this thesis so dominant in the media and
development literature over the last few decades?
• Is this popularity justified in terms of its explanatory
power and empirical support?
• What accounts for the weaning of the thesis'
popularity in recent years?
• What are the changing perspective on “local” versus
“The 20th century has been characterized by three
developments of great political importance: the growth of
democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of
corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate
power against democracy.”
Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass
Media, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, 1988
• Media Concentration – Global Oligopology
– Transnational ownership
– Acquisition of local outlets
Why media concentration?
• Media Logic and the Free Market Capitalism
• Media ownership and funding sources
• Government policies and citizens roles
• Reinforcement of
– Consumerism, trade policies,
labour practices, inequality,
• Cultural homogenization
– Death of local culture
• Erosion of the Public Sphere
• Mass media and reception
"Power is the ability
not just to tell the
story of another
• Unequal power
person, but to make
• “The West and the Rest” it the definitive story
• Power to “Representation” of that person".
The danger of a single
Evidence in support and
against the MI thesis
Interpretations and Alternatives
• Hypodermic needle
model of media
• Reception Theory
• “development as a widely participatory process
of social change in a society, intended to bring
about both social and material advancement
(including greater equality, freedom, and other
valued qualities) for the majority of the people
through their gaining greater control over their
environment” (Rogers, 1975)
Refer to assigned reading
• Diffusion of Innovations and Development
• field experiments and network analysis
• communication effects gaps and audience
• Diffusion is uneven
• Local innovation and local problem solving
• “what is really new about communication
technology is not the technology per se as
much as the social technology of how the new
communication devices are organized and
used.” (1976: 34)
• Importance of interpersonal network in
knowledge transmission (not through “opinion
• 4 main elements that influence the spread of a
– the innovation, communication channels, time, and a
• Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is
communicated through certain channels over
time among the members of a social system.
• Innovations progress through 5 stages:
knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementatio
n, and confirmation."
Rethinking Media Imperialism
• Is the power of the Western mass media
• What are the roles of the state and local
• What are the roles of the “audience”?
• What about local cultural contexts?