Too many (all?) global media and culture theories ignore the unique position of the United States

Dal Jong Yin’s “Hierarchy in Globalization Trends.” The model is quite useful. However, I believe it needs to be adjusted to account for the unique situation/positionality of the United States.

I am currently reading, and reviewing, a well-done text book, Globalization and Media in the Digital Platform Age, written by Simon Fraser scholar Dal Yong Jin. Jin, unlike many global media and communication scholars, has not been fully seduced by the cultural globalization, hybridization and glocalization perspectives whose adherents have dominated global media and communication studies for more than two decades — is this the longest ever dialectical swing away from one pole (cultural imperialism) to the other (cultural globalization), I sometimes wonder? 😉

Jin develops a solid middle ground between cultural imperialism and cultural globalization in this textbook, published in 2019. That is, he is careful to acknowledge that the reality of hybridization, which sees cultures inevitably mixed in cultural products and objects, does not erase substantial differences in cultural and political economic power. Jin also smartly acknowledges the fact that everything is indeed a hybrid, to one extent or another,  does not prevent hegemonic forces of globalization from co-opting and (ab)using hybridization and glocalization to suit their own globalizing (cultural) interests.

Continue reading “Too many (all?) global media and culture theories ignore the unique position of the United States”

Deconstructing cultural globalization and its valorization of individual agency

So, my work very much tilts toward the cultural imperialism side of a continuum of cultural imperialism vs. cultural globalization in the field of global media and communication studies. That is, I do not see individuals as having all that much power in terms of the age-old structure-agency debate.

I believe that we are primarily structured by forces outside of ourselves — long-running historical forces such as politics, ideology, culture, religion, socially-proscribed gender roles, etc. — primarily shape us and largely direct what sorts of “choices” we do (not) have.

I am especially very much opposed to the claim made by libertarian theorists that we do things own our “own.” We NEVER do anything completely on our own. NEVER!

What do I mean by this?

What I mean is that the entire history of the universe, the earth, and most importantly, the entire history of humanity — meaning the history of all human beings who have ever lived — precedes us. All of those human beings collectively, across time, through their also historically and socially situated being and actions created the social conditions and structures in which we today live as “individuals.” Continue reading “Deconstructing cultural globalization and its valorization of individual agency”

ACIC and Dominant Group Studies and Dominant Cultural Group Theory

Dominant Group Studies (DGS) and Dominant Cultural Group Theory propose that we focus critical and empirical attention on the ways in which Dominant Cultural Groups (DCGs), most notably, culturally and linguistically and educationally and racially privileged Americans, are both especially insular and also comparatively arrogant vis-a-vis their own dominant culture and relatively ignorant vis-a-vis the culture of so-called “others.” [Image Credit:]
American Cultural Insularity in the Center (ACIC) also draws upon a new theory I am developing called Dominant Cultural Group Theory (DCGT). I situate this theory within the broader domain of what I call Dominant Group Studies (DGS).

I am not the first to have put forward a proposal for Dominant Group Theory, though, to the best of my knowledge, I am the first to call for a field of study called Dominant Group Studies. Within the fields of media and communication studies and theory, Razzante & Orbe (2018) have recently begun to develop a Dominant Group Theory (DGT). Razzante and Orbe (2018) focus on how “dominant group members communicate with co-cultural group members within oppressive structures,” and therefore zero in primarily on communication with not much focus on culture and language. In contrast, I am much more interested in, and DCGT is much more focused on, the dynamics of power vis-à-vis the production and consumption of popular culture and the specific role that language, e.g. English as a nationally and globally dominant language for particular dominant groups inside the United States, play in terms of the (lack of) empowerment and ability of non-dominant groups to alter dominant groups’ comparative stranglehold on (global) cultural production and consumption.

Razzante’s and Orbe’s (2018) “five premises” of DGT are useful in terms of articulating a critical version of Dominant Cultural Group Theory (DCGT), which at heart, is a normative critical theory. These five premises are:

  1. In each society, a hierarchy exists that privileges certain groups of people: in the United States these groups include cisgender men, European Americans, Christians, heterosexuals, the able-bodied, native English speakers (emphasis = my own), and those from the middle and upper classes;
  2. Others—trans persons, women, people of color, Muslims, LGBT persons, people with disabilities, non-native English speakers, and those from a lower class—are marginalized as co-cultural group members;
  3. Although representing a widely diverse array of lived experiences, dominant group members will share a similar societal position that provides them with societal advantages compared to their co-cultural group counterparts;
  4. While dominant group members share an advantaged position in society, their lived experiences—like their co-cultural counterparts—reflect a diversity of perspectives that resist essentialist understanding; and
  5. On the basis of varying levels of privilege, dominant group members occupy positions of power that are used in their negotiation of traditionally dominant communication systems.

Continue reading “ACIC and Dominant Group Studies and Dominant Cultural Group Theory”