Transnational media through world systems theory, a shift to globalization

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MECO6926 International Media Practice

CRITICAL REVIEW. TRANSNATIONAL MEDIA THROUGH WORLD-SYSTEMS THEORY, A SHIFT TO GLOBALIZATION: the mythology about globalization & an evolving triad world: a theoretical framework for global communication research.

Mónica Salazar - 310121701
April 21, 2011

The aim of the this critical review is to analyse transnationalmedia systems, beyond a particular country or region and focus on how and why those systems interact in an international or larger context, therefore challenging the application of Wallenstein's world-systems theory. Some authors argue for a new mapping, based on the development of transnational media systems and the influence of electronic media power, which not only confirm the core-peripherypattern but suggest further that, under the conditions of contemporary globalization, they are 'taking particularly, intensive and selective form, an accentuation of geographical polarization' (Taylor et al 2001: 221).

The world-systems theory.
World-systems theory is a macrosociological perspective closely associated with Immanuel Wallerstein. Since 1974, he argues that there is an objective worldthat can be quantitatively understood, a worldeconomy or countries economically interdependent located in three interactive spheres of economic, political, social and cultural relations: core, semiperiphery, and periphery; from which two or more of these polities would compete for domination without the emergence of one single centre forever (Goldfrank, 2000). Among the most important structuresof the current world-systems theory is a power hierarchy between core and periphery, in which powerful and wealthy core societies dominate and exploit weak and poor peripheral societies. The core-periphery relationship is structural. Semi-peripheral states act as a buffer zone between core and periphery, and has a mix of the kinds of activities and institutions that exist on them (Skocpol, 1977).From this perspective, advanced or developed countries would be the core, and the less developed the periphery, with the developmental paradigm as a common goal among nations in the semiperiphery and periphery in a temporal and dynamic trend.

Based on the world-systems theory, one can consider the disparity of national status as an important factor in shaping the context, direction andvolume of traffic of news, entertainment and information from country to country, especially between developed and developing nations. Therefore, is this assumption rooted in a larger imbalance of distribution of financial resources and communication technologies in the world?

For this matter, the world-systems might not clearly define the current trends of transnational media corporations, as someauthors have stated that it is limited on examining the world from a global perspective, and that it is centred on an 'european world-economy' (Frank 2000: 225). In example, Gunaratne argues that the information flows in Asia follow the world-systems pattern, but recognizes that the theory may reflect a narrow perspective. Because in order to obtain accurate results, the 'periphery's bridgeheadsor elites have interests similar to those in the centre, playing the on-line media a dominant role in the way these paths are traced, the on-line media in the centre and the periphery may show more similarities that differences', a fact that may contradict their given position in the world-systems theory.

World-systems theory, strengths and weaknesses.
Theoretically, the world-systems hasproved relevant to internal communications as it unifies the study of global exchange of trade and flows of information, international relationships and national roles at the country level (Bollen, 1983). Methodologically, the use of network analysis in the world-systems provides a practical analytical technique through which international communication patterns can be empirically examined...
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