Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Globalization and the Dependency Theory

Elizabeth Hanson’s discussion in chapter three about the globalization of communication was particularly interesting to me. First, she gave a technical overview of the globalization and how technologies such as fiber-optic cables, satellites, computers and the Internet have crossed borders in order to revolutionize the way nations communicate with each other. Then, she detailed how globalization has encouraged mass media conglomerates to vie for, and attempt to dominate the production and distribution of their products internationally in the “search for profits and market share.” Additionally, she discussed the obstacles that many developing countries face when attempting to diffuse Internet technologies.

This directly ties into last week’s discussion about the dependency theory. Hanson describes how developing countries are struggling to establish telecommunication systems due to financial outlays, substandard national telephone systems, insufficient and unreliable power supply and the lack of technical expertise. In an attempt to aid these developing countries, many international organizations have provided assistance to promote connectivity. However, according to the dependency theory, modernization programs will inevitably keep poor countries poor. Even though these international organizations have good intentions in helping these periphery countries develop, the periphery countries are still being exploited by the core countries and will remained trapped in their periphery status. By no means do I think that core countries should refrain from providing these countries with the assistance that they need in order to expand, I do believe that the core countries must analyze the methods in which they provide assistance and should find ways to empower these nations to take a greater role in helping themselves develop.

An example of this is when Hanson discusses the inception of satellites. She explains that satellites are valuable because they can “transmit information and telephone services to landlocked and remote places” and that “satellites provide potential access to global communication systems that would otherwise be unavailable to developing countries.” In order for the developing (periphery) countries to access this technology, they leased capacity from Intelsat, a wholesale provider of satellite communication services. Intelsat, an international consortium, originally started with nineteen industrialized (core) countries but expanded to “144 by the end of the century.” By leasing this technology from the core countries, periphery countries do indeed gain access to a valuable technology however, they ultimately remain dependent on the core countries. Additionally, the core countries are able to profit financially and gain market share. In order to escape this core-periphery relationship, countries such as India, Brazil and Mexico launched their own satellites.

Globalization of communication technology has truly revolutionized the way in which our world communicates and it will be interesting to observe how it will continue to impact the core-periphery relationships of nations.

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