We live in the era of globalisation and media is one of those sectors that should react on any changes immediately.
Cultural and ethical aspects have also been changed in the context of globalisation in the media area. Earlier people had to wait for news from other side of the world for weeks and even months, now with the exploration of the World Wide Web, they can get any information just in few seconds.
Major concerns caused by the globalisation
It goes without saying that the process of globalisation influences culture, mass media and mentality of every country, and its influence is especially appreciable if we speak about minority groups. The term globalisation came in use from the beginning of the 90s of the last century. It has so many shades of meaning and is used in so many fields that it is sometimes difficult to give its direct interpretation. Generally, under globalisation we understand that it refers to all those processes by which the peoples of the world are incorporate into a single world society, global society (1990:45) (Albrow cited in Rantanen, 2005, p.7).Â All factors mentioned above can have both positive and negative influences on different states and different people.
The Issue of Identity as Represented In Mass Media
Mass media very vividly illustrates that globalisation is not a remote phenomenon, which influences only world economy. Modern mass media touches eternal questions of identity search in the contemporary society.
Globalization touches intimate, individual spheres of life of many people all over the world. Changing of social norms, historical traditions and cultural values are very often conditioned by the necessity to meet the needs of globalisation. Globalisation is a complex phenomenon, which consists of several processes. Contradictory driving forces direct the processes conditioned by globalisation. For example, the decrease of the power of nations and moving the accent to global area has shadow effect. The decrease of the potency of major dominating nations has provoked the increase of the national identity of national minorities, such as Scots in the UK or separatists in Quebec.Â The increase of national identity has naturally resulted in the changes in the quantitative and qualitative structure of the society (Ohmae, p. 118, 1995). There are a lot of other contradictions caused by globalisation and the temps of growths and development are so high that it is often hard to predict all possible consequences. All these changes are reflected in the way mass media coverage. The question of identity becomes central when mass media describes the phenomenon of globalization. This happens because a lot of people, especially representatives of the minority groups, express their concerns about the rapid temps of globalisation and its influence on religion and culture.
Helene Fontanaud in her article Holy symbols to be banned discusses the law that deals with the banning of Islamic headscarves and other Islamic symbols in schools. Global tendencies certainly have an impact on state schools in France and this makes the Muslim minority of France worry about the preserving of their religious traditions. Father Stanislas Lalanne, head of the French Bishops’ Conference, said Mr Chirac’s speech had assuaged its fears of anti-religious measures but still left room for interpretation. I am confident and at the same time vigilant, he said (Fontanaud, 2003). Minority groups’ leaders state that such banning laws will touch other religions symbols, such as Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps. The law was proclaimed from the screens of our television before the start of the nest school year: In all conscience, I consider that the wearing of dress or symbols which conspicuously show religious affiliation should be banned in schools, Mr Chirac, standing in front of a French flag, said in a speech to 400 guests at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday (Fontanaud, 2003). Some researches speaking about minority groups and consequences of globalisation state that it leads to inequality, poverty and increased threat to the environment. They make an accent that globalisation destroy identical cultural groups because of the one global standard. Other researches do not support this point of view and see globalisation from the optimistic perspective. They name positive effects of globalisation, such as rapid development and reformation of stagnant areas, increase of environmental awareness and new opportunities for integration in problem solving.
The Notion of identity in the Context of Globalisation
Â Â Â Â Helene Fontanaud states that minority groups, for example Muslims in France, complain that global tendencies in culture and media do not allow them to express their identity. Muslim headscarves are the symbol of the Muslim identity and despite the fact that the institution of school is separated from the religion, this symbol cannot be banned.
The concept of globalisation is especially meaningful in the media context if we speak about the notion of identity.
There is an assumption that globalization can destroy cultural identities. Once upon a time, before the era of globalisation, there existed local, autonomous, distinct and well-defined, robust and culturally sustaining connections between geographical place and cultural experience (Castells, 1997, p. 65). This phenomenon forms cultural identity. Identity does not only identity the belonging to this or that culture; it can be called a collective treasure of the community.
The Relationship of the Reference Group with Mainstream’ Society
The dialogue between Muslims and the governing body of the school cannot be called constructive. The consensus has not been found yet. It can be proved by several cases of schoolgirls defying schools that have tried to stop them covering their heads in class (Fontanaud, 2003). For Muslims in France globalisation is an absolutely negative phenomenon because it infringes upon their interest and rights. Muslim headscarves are not just religious symbols; they are part of Muslim ideology and identity. Most people agree that there should be found new approaches to the different minority groups if we speak about global tendency in culture and social life. Speaking about minority groups in the context of globalisation it is necessary to take into account people’s attitude to this phenomenon (Grieg, 2002). Everybody who talks about globalisation can be conditionally placed to one of two big camps camps of those who support globalisation and those who are frightened by possible negative consequences it can have for Australia. Those, who are sure in positive effect of globalisation stress on new opportunities for economic growth, reduction of poverty and information exchange as possible advantages of globalisation. An example of developing countries can be good evidence on the support of globalisation. We can see the big progress and economic growth in the countries of East Asia, which actively participate in the world trade and are involved in the process of globalisation. They have made a big step forward in comparison with some African countries that are closed for new opportunities of globalisation. Supporters of globalisation see it as liberalization in many fields, such as agriculture, industry, informational technologies, trade, etc. Liberalization means getting rid of political influence in the economy. It’s an important factor as trade and economy in this case get the opportunities for free development without limitations from the governments of separate countries. Supporters of the globalisation stress on the necessity to perform gradual and considerable reforms on the way to globalisation to be sure all social layers benefit from it. When it comes to globalisation, there is a threat that economic growth can benefit only rich citizens of the country and thus will strengthen the separation between rich and poor.
Like any controversial issue, globalisation has a lot of opponents. Those, who emphasize on the negative effects of globalisation call ecological risk, the growth of inequality and poverty as the main risks. Another reason of negative attitude to globalisation set forward by its opponents is the danger of Westernisation (Sullivan, 2002). Globalisation itself is not as frightening as Westernalization when the world economy is subdued to the interests of several Western countries and these interests are promoted in all spheres of life. Those, who set arguments against globalisation state that it can exhaust the inner resources of the countries of the third world who take part in this process. This happens in countries like Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Natural resources of these countries are exploited by richer countries (Sullivan, 2001). These are the results of Australia’s participation in the world globalisation.
Every country has to deal with the problem of globalisation and change its policy towards this phenomenon.
Immigration and Diaspora make the governments of the country to look for the ways to deal with minority groups and mass media has a very important influence in the resolving of this issue. Immigrants bring with them part of their culture, language, religion and traditions and we can’t leave this factor without attention. They are confronted with numerous difficulties such as civil rights, education, work, social services and political participation. Job skills, legal status, educational background play an important role in social, cultural and political integration (Stubbs, Underhill, 2000). The necessity of real foreign professionals who can develop ties with their native countries on the economical level and gives a possibility for a few people to realize themselves but for the majority the situation is very difficult.
On the other hand immigrants are necessary to strengthen the economy of the country, especially in America. Most of immigrants are cheap man labour. Some American politicians are trying to simplify immigration laws, as scientists predict the labour demand in nearest future.
Very often the attitude to immigrants reflects not only the part of the foreign policy of the country, but also reflects its political and social system. From the way immigrants are treated in the country we can judge about the humane values accepted there. Attitude towards minority groups accepted by the government of the country very often reflects the attitude of all citizens of the country towards strangers and foreigners. It’s not surprising that in democratic countries the government reflects the will and attitude of its population. The tendency to humanization of the society that became widespread in the world after WW II had influenced the way mass media reflected the problems of the minority groups.Â It becomes more and more evident that creating equal economic, business and education opportunities isn’t enough to make immigrants feel comfortable in the country they’ve chosen as their second motherland. The main aim of the governmental policy concerning minority groups must be not just to preserve cultural heritage, religion and political views. It also must serve as a tool to build solidarity among people of this community.
The problem of minority groups in the context of globalisation is of great concern nowadays. All the policies developed by the country take into account its specific cultural, historical and political factors in order not be dissolved by the global processes. Globalisation is a controversial phenomenon in the contemporary world, especially for minority groups in different countries. On the one hand, it gives them a kind of freedom from the dominant policy of the state in questions of religion and culture. On the other hand we can observe a tendency to one global culture that presumes banning of different religious and national symbols in public places. It is obvious that such policy is not appropriate for minority groups. It does not give them a possibility to express their identity that is really important for them. This problem exists not only in France or in Australia; it touches practically every county and especially such influential countries, as the USA and Britain. Different countries choose different ways to solve it.
Some leaders insist of banning laws, while others state that force methods will never be successful. Thoughtful and balanced state policy can help to escape these problems and benefit from positive effect globalisation can bring to the country. Only taking into account different positions and interest it is possible to move in the future.