Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hanson re-caps semester topics

This week’s Elizabeth C. Hanson reading, “Global Communication and the Nation-State”, is a recap of all the topics we have discussed during this semester. Some of the topics Hanson discusses are the nation-state and how its control has been affected by the new ICTs that have emerged and quite possibly have minimized its centrality and power. She also mentions the importance non-state actors have acquired in world politics, such as transnational corporations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or civil society. She explains the debate of the power shift from being only nation-state to including transnational corporations and considering the expertise and points of view of NGOs. ICTs have helped NGOs expand and grow by facilitating the diffusion of information across boundaries, so they can reach their common goals. Salamon calls civil society, the “global third sector”, which each day has an increasing larger influence and participation in Unites Nations World Conferences.

A very important point that Hanson makes is the challenges ICTs bring in terms of nation-states governing their population, and that autocratic governments have more of a challenge by creating ways to censor and limit the exposure to communication technologies like the Internet. The author gives the example of the Chinese government and all the laws, policies and restrictions they have put into place so they can control the information citizens receive and avoid negative comments of the government. But the Communist Party also uses the Internet to its advantage to develop and expand its reach to global markets.

Hanson states the importance of identity and the role information and communication technologies have had on the changes of cultural globalization and national identity. The phenomenon of immigration to other countries creates a great variety of diasporic communities, which thanks to ICTs, can now keep very close contact with what is happening in their home countries. In terms of cultural globalization, we can also mention once again, the crucial role Hollywood films and television has had since its earliest days. The exportation of media products, especially American programmes and films have a great dominance worldwide. Although, we have already learned that people prefer to watch local more culturally relevant television shows and news, which has given way to the process of “hybridization”. “Hybridization” unites many cultural aspects to make a T.V. show or film more widely accepted and relevant to a larger audience.

In essence, information and communication technologies have bought innovations and challenges with them. They are responsible for many changes in cultural globalization, diasporic communities, the growth of civil society, and the way of governing a nation-state and decentralizing its power and authority. There are positive and negative implications to every new innovation, we just have to learn to deal with them and be flexible enough to face whatever the unexpected results it might have.

1 comment:

  1. Nikole, I thought Hanson’s discussion about China’s censorship predicament was quite interesting. On the one hand they must use the Internet to reach global markets and legitimize themselves as a global power. However, on the other hand, "they must" keep tight controls on their citizens by censoring the content they receive from the Internet. I’d be interested to get your opinion on what you think of companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Google who aid China’s censorship efforts. Any thoughts?

    On the one hand, I think these companies should seriously reconsider their support for helping China impose undemocratic censorship laws. However, from a business standpoint, I can sympathize with their need to serve the requirements of their client. If they don’t provide these services then another competitor will…