Browsing by Author "Ampuja, Marko"

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  • Ampuja, Marko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    This study offers a reconstruction and critical evaluation of globalization theory, a perspective that has been central for sociology and cultural studies in recent decades, from the viewpoint of media and communications. As the study shows, sociological and cultural globalization theorists rely heavily on arguments concerning media and communications, especially the so-called new information and communication technologies, in the construction of their frameworks. Together with deepening the understanding of globalization theory, the study gives new critical knowledge of the problematic consequences that follow from such strong investment in media and communications in contemporary theory. The book is divided into four parts. The first part presents the research problem, the approach and the theoretical contexts of the study. Followed by the introduction in Chapter 1, I identify the core elements of globalization theory in Chapter 2. At the heart of globalization theory is the claim that recent decades have witnessed massive changes in the spatio-temporal constitution of society, caused by new media and communications in particular, and that these changes necessitate the rethinking of the foundations of social theory as a whole. Chapter 3 introduces three paradigms of media research the political economy of media, cultural studies and medium theory the discussion of which will make it easier to understand the key issues and controversies that emerge in academic globalization theorists treatment of media and communications. The next two parts offer a close reading of four theorists whose works I use as entry points into academic debates on globalization. I argue that we can make sense of mainstream positions on globalization by dividing them into two paradigms: on the one hand, media-technological explanations of globalization and, on the other, cultural globalization theory. As examples of the former, I discuss the works of Manuel Castells (Chapter 4) and Scott Lash (Chapter 5). I maintain that their analyses of globalization processes are overtly media-centric and result in an unhistorical and uncritical understanding of social power in an era of capitalist globalization. A related evaluation of the second paradigm (cultural globalization theory), as exemplified by Arjun Appadurai and John Tomlinson, is presented in Chapter 6. I argue that due to their rejection of the importance of nation states and the notion of cultural imperialism for cultural analysis, and their replacement with a framework of media-generated deterritorializations and flows, these theorists underplay the importance of the neoliberalization of cultures throughout the world. The fourth part (Chapter 7) presents a central research finding of this study, namely that the media-centrism of globalization theory can be understood in the context of the emergence of neoliberalism. I find it problematic that at the same time when capitalist dynamics have been strengthened in social and cultural life, advocates of globalization theory have directed attention to media-technological changes and their sweeping socio-cultural consequences, instead of analyzing the powerful material forces that shape the society and the culture. I further argue that this shift serves not only analytical but also utopian functions, that is, the longing for a better world in times when such longing is otherwise considered impracticable.