2008 Chloe Mortaud was first ever non-white Miss France
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Comparing Media Systems, "the Forces and Limits of Homogenization," Hallin & Mancini
Context: This book was first published in 2004 but was reprinted in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The book is centered around the idea that there are three models through which European media can be studied- the Polarized Pluralist model of Southern Europe, The Democratic Corporatist Model of Central Europe, and the Liberal Model of Northern Europe. The chapter looks at these models in a contemporary context to examine in what ways they have changed.
Authors: Daniel C. Hallin has a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Professor of Communication and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. His research is centered around political communication and the role of news media in politics. He has written about media and various wars, election coverage and other issues in political media. His most current research focuses on news media's role in the public sphere. Paolo Mancini is a full professor at the Dipartimento Istituzioni e Societa, Facolta di Scienze Politiche, Universita de Perugia and the Director of Centro Interuniversitario di Comunicazione Politica. He received degrees from the Facolta de Scienze Politiche and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales of Paris. Mancini has taught at various institutions in Italy and the University of California, San Diego. He was also a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. His research also focuses on political communication.
Approach: The approach of this article is comparative and sociological. It is comparative because it uses examples from several different countries and compares different media forms. It is sociological because it examines power structures that exist in media and politics and uses both theory and empirical examples.
Terminology: International Media Culture- the idea that aspects of the media are becoming less differentiated between countries Homogenization/convergence- the movement of media systems toward single global media forms; the process by which media systems become less differentiated Differentiation- in this chapter, differentiation is used to describe the way that political and media systems have become increasingly separate from each other Americanization- European media forms resemble American media forms and have been directly influenced by American media Secularization- the separation of citizens and institutions from religious and ideological faiths Globalization- to expand beyond national markets and instead reach a global market Modernization- the emergence of a professional class of communicators
Point of View: The authors do not seem to offer a strong point of view, citing that there are too many factors to form a conclusive opinion. However, it seems that they generally agree that globalization and Americanization have created homogenization in the media, often with the potential for negative effects.
European Media amid globalization
How Can It Be Applied? This article is very relevant to today because the shift to Internet as a primary form of media has led to an even greater homogenization of the media. However, the internet has allowed in many ways for greater differentiation because people have the ability to publish whatever they want. While such information cannot always be trusted, they often represent the strong political views that are no longer found in journalistic reporting. Another interesting occurrence is the rise of the citizen journalist who can undercut the media power systems in place by self-publishing on venues such as YouTube or Groundreport.com. Groundreport.com is interesting because it represents another resistance to media homogenization by providing hyperlocalized news.
Visit Ground Report
Reading Summary: This chapter of Comparing Media Systems discusses the homogenization of European Media, calling into question whether the three models offered in previous chapters are still applicable or whether it would be more appropriate to have a "single, global media model" (251). The chapter states that while the differences between the regional models were very noticeable in 1970, the differences have decreased within the past few decades.
This balanced view of media support is now outdated as European media has become increasingly capital and consumer driven.
In general, many countries across Europe are adopting the Liberal Model. The party newspapers that were important to Democratic Corporatist and Polarized Pluralist systems are declining in favor of commercial newspapers whose purpose is to make a profit. In Finland, for example, politically inclined papers declined from 70% in 1950 to 50% in 1970 and less than 15% in 1995 (252). News and commentary are becoming separated and objectivity and political neutrality are increasing. Broadcasting has shifted from a public service-oriented form to a more market dominated form in which broadcasters must compete for audiences. The style of broadcasting has changed as well from being politcally-oriented and informational to the "dramatized, personalized, and popularized style pioneered in the United States" (252). As such, political systems have shifted from representing a political party to backing a certain leader, much like American politics. Thus, media and politics in Democratic Corporatist and Polarized Pluralist models have become differentiated- that is to say that while they used to be tightly knit, they are become increasingly separate. Hallin and Mancini speculate that these changes are due to Americanization, modernization, globalization, commercialization and secularization.
According to Hallin and Mancini, Americanization as a concept has been popular since the 1960s. Americanization means that European media forms are exhibiting direct influence by and a strong resemblance to American media. This argument is closely linked to the idea of cultural imperialism and the United States as a global cultural power. The chapter states that while American influence is great in European media, its influence must not be exaggerated and that the key driving force behind media change in Europe is still changes within the countries themselves and not outside influences. American influence in Europe intensified after World War II when the United States became a dominant political and economic world power. Two United States entities- the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the U.S. Department of State- promoted the U.S. ideals of press freedom and professionalism to reestablish democracy in fascist countries. In response to the want for expanded global markets, the World Association of Newspapers was founded in 1948 with the goals of promoting press freedom, communication between newspaper executives from different regions and cultures and cooperation between members. The organization has 71 national newspaper organizations as members. The organization's "Code of Newspaper Practices" focuses heavily on American ideals of press freedom and independence; it rejects the intertwined model of politics and journalism favored by Democratic Corporatist and Polarized Plural companies. Additionally, the American model of journalism education played an important role in Americanizing the media. The idea that journalism can be studied separately from other subjects promotes journalism as an entity independent of things such as politics. Because of WAN and other organizations such as the European Journalism Training association, journalists now interact at a global level which increases homogenization.
Modeled after the O.C. and Gossip Girl, 16 is an Americanized evening drama that centers around teens in the 16th arrondissement of Prais
Next, Hallin and Mancini consider the role of technology in homogenization. The spread of technology produces standardization. As an example, Hallin and Mancini point to Elizabeth Eisenstein's analysis of the printing press. Eisenstein's analysis reveals that in countries where the printing press was used, writing styles, typefaces and books' content spread to all of those countries. People have a tendency to adopt cultural ideals promoted by new technology, which creates a more standardized or common culture between the technology users. Thus journalistic professionalism ideals were spread with the transfer of technology. The chapter states, however, that the evolution of technology cannot be separated from context. For example, while the printing press developed and was adopted by certain countries, other countries' writing technologies evolved in different ways. Still, the influence of technology on media systems is undeniable. The television, for example, allowed for cross-national broadcasting and the multiplication of channels. Some other examples include CNN and the internet. Developments in technology are cited as one reason for the growth of professional journalism education. Now, journalism has become less about the journalist's story and more about their ability to make that story interesting on television or the internet. Similarly, technological developments have created the need for specially trained professionals who are familiar with new technology in the political arena. While North American media systems have had an influence on European media systems, Hallin and Mancini remind us that European media systems evolved differently from American media and that further evolution would not occur without internal social and political changes. Hallin and Mancini argue that more than directly adopting American media, it was the ideology of the Liberal media system that was adopted without changing European media practices. An example that illustrates this point is how Southern European journalists subscribe to the notion of objective reporting while practicing journalism that does not conform to Liberal ideals of political neutrality. The chapter discusses modernization, using a definition from Pye's Communications and Political Development which states that "modernization involves the emergence of a professional class of communicators" (262). This is directly linked to professionalization. However, there are problems with the concept of modernization that Hallin and Mancini discuss later in the chapter.
Euronews creates one platform that simply varies in language, homogenizing news across EuropeNext, Hallin and Mancini discuss the concept of secularization which is the separation of citizens and institutions from religious and ideological faiths. This is causes a decline of social and political order based on such institutions and a more fragmented and individualized society. Such a shift causes the mass media to function more independently of parties, trade unions, churches, etc. and even to take over functions that such organizations once performed. Closely linked to secularization is the decline of the "mass party" and the rise of "catchall" or "electoral-professional" parties. A mass party is one that both represented and defended its followers' social and economic interests and was also responsible for their social representations and imagery. These parties owned newspapers, thus acting as both journalists and political figures. The decline of mass parties coincides with the decline of obvious social division stressed in Marxist theory. Other factors that caused change in European political systems are increased education, issue-based voting, new demographic groups, economic integration and globalization. The development and evolution of mass media have also altered the role of politics, which allows politicians to directly reach voters. Mass party loyalty also broke down due to television representing an area of common ground, the development of critical journalism and commercialization. Even though broadcasting was organized under political authority, it served as political and social common ground. In most countries post-World War II, television had one to three channels and was highly centralized. Political reporting was more neutral and entertainment relied on common cultural references. Television as a "catchall" media allowed political parties to appeal to citizens outside of their established followers, encouraging the growth of catchall parties. Catchall commercial newspapers also played a central role in communications in the Democratic Corporate and Liberal countries during this time. The diffusion of television coincided with the spread of critical expertise in journalism. Previously, journalism had been deferential towards politicians and political institutions. Now, journalists were more independent and critical of politics, creating journalistic discourse. The journalist came to embody a generalized public opinion that cut across political and social divisions. The reasons behind this shift are numerous: journalists were receiving increased education which led to more sophisticated analysis, news organizations expanded leading to greater resources and specialization, a growing professional community of journalists developed its own standards of practice, development of new technology, and increased prestige of journalists.
Hallin and Mancini cite commercialization as the most powerful force behind the homogenization of media systems. In print media, advertising-backed omnibus papers began to push out the party press. In Sweden, for example, the number of newspapers peaked in 1920 after which commercial papers began to dominate the market. Broadcasting also experienced a shift from being public service dominated in 1970 to commercial broadcasting dominated. This process, known as the "commercial deluge," began in Italy with a 1976 Supreme Court ruling that allowed private stations to broadcast in local areas. By 1990, most of Europe had moved toward commercial broadcasting. By 2000, only Austria, Ireland and Switzerland were still dominated by public broadcasting. Additionally, public broadcasting stations had to adopt commercial logic to compete for audiences. Competition and an increase in available channels shifted the perception of television from a public service to a commodity. The development of the VCR also aided in this. Pirate radio proliferated in the 1970s because it was funded by advertisers and appealed to youth culture. Transborder broadcasting, which "undercut the connection between broadcasting institutions and political systems, expanded in the 1980s with the growth of cable and direct broadcast satellite TV," (275). Lobbies, such as the advertising lobby, pushed for change in media policy. Advertisers wanted access to electronic media, an interest that was supported by the push for commercial broadcasting from media companies. Limited funding for public channels meant that public broadcasting could not compete, especially as the market for color television sets increased and public broadcasting could not expand beyond a few channels. Thus, television expansion became dependent on private broadcasting. Several policies such as the Television without Frontiers Directive of 1989 allowed for transnational expansion of media companies and economic globalization.
Coca Cola's commercial solution to secularization
In the next section of the chapter, Hallin and Mancini outline the consequences of commercialization of the media. Commercialization shifts European media systems away from politics and towards commerce. This shifts journalists' jobs from disseminating ideas and creating social consensus to producing information and entertainment that can be sold to consumers. Commercialization contributes to homogenization by tending toward omnibus or "catchall" media and away from politicized media as well as encouraging a common global set of media practices. Commercialization forces public media systems to conform to commercial media standards to compete. Commercialization has contributed to secularism and altered the process of political communication. Politicians and parties must utilize new technologies created by commercial media in order to compete. This has given rise to personalization and privileging the point of view of the "ordinary citizen". Commercialization also changes the balance of power between the media and political institutions, generally giving the media more power. The increase in political scandals across both Europe and North America points to the media's power in setting the political agenda as well as an increase in critical professionalism. One question posed in this section is whether commercialization has increased or decreased the flow of political information. Politics have traditionally played a central role in European media and there is evidence that points to Europeans being more educated about world affairs than Americans, even in countries with low newspaper circulation. Commercialization and Americanization of European media has created the fear that political reporting would be marginalized. However, others state that commercialization has aided the political process by increasing the availability of political information, thus reducing "the cost of making informed decisions," (280). While newspapers and organizations are larger, public affairs content in certain papers such as the British Mirror has decreased. Also problematic is the potential for commercialization to undermine public involvement in the political process by reporting on scandal and negative portrayals of politicians. Changes in campaign style (to television-centered campaigns) due to commercialization could also affect public involvement. Hallin and Mancini state that in general, commercialization led to media and politics becoming more independent of each other.
In France, animations like the above are used to separate television shows from commercials
Next, Hallin and Mancini describe the limits and countertendencies of the homogenization process. Despite an increase in homogenization and convergence, several aspects of European media and politics have stayed constant. Parliamentary systems, for example, have persisted despite European countries' movement toward "presidentialization". Because party and electoral systems retain their differences, Hallin and Mancini believe that total convergence would be unlikely. Another system that remains different in Europe is the legal system. The "first amendment absolutism" (283) that characterize the U.S. legal system is unlikely to spread to Europe. Electoral communication and broadcast media in Europe will probably continue to be more regulated than in the U.S. While neutral journalistic reporting seems to have become the norm in Europe, forms of advocacy journalism are still present in Europe and are even evolving in Liberal countries. In the chapter's final sections, Hallin and Mancini discuss differentiation. The processes of secularization and modernization suggest increased differentiation. Three major forces fueled the differentiation process: demand for more neutral reporting, the growth of journalism as a self-regulating and autonomous profession, and the degree of universalism in national civil cultures. As ties to churches and other social groups have broken down, the media have taken a larger role in political and social life, which is also consistent with differentiation. Still in some instances, ideals such as professionalization have developed independently of commercialization, which means that it is not necessary in order to have autonomous news institutions or journalists. Sometimes, journalism is even at odds with commercialization when journalists fight the intervention of the market in their work. In the U.S., reducing journalistic autonomy has led to decreased differentiation. Similar patterns are occurring in parts of Europe as well. Hallin and Mancini once again emphasize that the media have become more independent of the state and that shifts toward press freedom have limited the role governments can play in the media. This happened at different rates for different countries. Finally, Hallin and Mancini address differentiation and power, which means differentiation in terms of social class distinctions. Overall, commercial papers tend to distance themselves from identifying with any particular social class while party papers, which have declined substantially, have traditionally represented specific classes. However, commercial papers are not necessarily politically neutral. In some cases, commercial papers broaden and blur the political spectrum they cover or merge with papers of different political orientations. One question raised by the decline of party papers is whether it occurs because they are no longer needed or whether it is because business is valued highly in Western societies. The example of right-leaning commercial papers made up of left-leaning journalists points to the idea that the relation between commercialization and professionalism is important. No resolution is offered in this chapter because "research that systematically addresses issues of media and power in a comparative way is almost totally lacking," (294).
"The Global and the Universal," Jean Baudrillard
Context: This piece was written in 1996. It was published in 2000 and reprinted in 2002 and thus takes place right before the internet boom that took the concept of globalization to a whole new level.
Author: Jean Baudrillard was an important French cultural theorist. He is responsible for ideas such as simulacra and the object value system. He studied other important theorists such as Barthes and Marx. He was a Professor of Culture and Media Criticism at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Approach: Baudrillard takes a philosophical perspective and a sociological one. While his work discusses power structures in society, it discusses and attempts to define the somewhat abstract term "the universal".
Universal- shared values and norms, an abstract term that focuses on the uniting forces at play in the universe.
Pornography- the unregulated transnational freeflow of signs, values and goods.
How can it be applied? Baudrillard's work is very relevant, especially given the internet's influence and reach on media practices. While it does seem that globalization is what media is trending toward, there are movements such as the hyper local news model of GroundReport.com that oppose globalization and the homogenization it brings.
Article Summary: Baudrillard starts off by saying that globalization and the universal are in direct opposition to one another and that cultures that universalize themselves lose their singularity, or their unique space and place in the world. He says that cultures that die off because of their singularity are noble while cultures that die from lack of singularity are ignoble. In globalization, Baudrillard claims, the universal cannot survive. This is because globalization narrows the scope of our world view and emphasizes cultural differences. Baudrillard likens the flow of information that occurs in globalization to pornography because it is fast moving, unregulated and eager to penetrate other markets, so to speak. Baudrillard then states that shattering the universal can be a good thing because the singularities that were lost reemerge. However, once the univerals are gone, all that remains is globalization and thus markets, capitalism and boundaries to be overcome. At the end of the article, Baudrillard states that globalization will not necessarily come out on top and that there are other forces that could threaten its dominance.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Papathanassopoulos: 10. More Music Television Channels, pp. 214-226.
AUTHOR BIO: Stylianos Papathanassopoulos is the Professor of Media organization and policy at the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies - National and kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA). He is currently the Head of the Faculty and a member of the Board of the Hellenic Audiovisual Institute. Previously, he was Deputy Director of the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (URIAC) and Deputy-Head of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies. He is also a member of the Euromedia Research Group and he was a member of the research project “Changing Media-Changing Europe” funded by the European Science Foundation. He has written extensively on European and Greek media, with particular reference to the development and impact of news media.
CONTENT: In Chapter 10 of European Television in the Digital Age, Stylianos Papathanassopoulos dives into an overview of “More Music Television Channels.” Papathanassopoulos notes how television has become the dominant medium for the dissemination and promotion of music and its artists. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of music and it’s key role in setting the mood and tone of programming on television. He articulates how music television is a hybrid of two contrasting forms of revenue generators: content provision and distribution. Thus, the main point of the chapter looks at the development of music channels and the intense competition in European Music Television.
His key example is MTV, Music Television, originating from the United States on August 21, 1981. MTV offers original programming such as special events and television shows, but the music video is still its core feature. He states how it was this cable music service, MTV, “which began with a relatively modest budget and an even more modest viewer base, (215)” which allowed the rise of the up and coming music television industry. MTV was the influence which permeated throughout Europe which bred other international groups – including MTV Europe, MTV Brazil, MTV Japan, and MTV Latino.
In the beginning, MTV reaped free benefits when record companies would give free products away in efforts of free television promotion. However, things have changed and the record industry realized the importance of pop videos not just for its own company profit but to the other various media outlets. The most serious challenge facing MTV, Papathanassopoulos says,” was the news that record companies were to join forces to set up music channels in key European markets (218).” The rise of European music television industry expanded because European broadcasters wanted to balance the dominance of the Anglo-American repertoire on MTV and also offer local feed.
Localization, restricting and assigning a product in this case the music content, was not an effective strategy in diminishing the strong impact MTV has on the European market. “MTV in Europe is still dominated by Anglo-American artists, and even more by the use of English in songs, even though there is more diversity in the languages in which the programmes are hosted (219).”
MTV’s strategy was to combine a global presence with a single brand with a product that could be distributed for separate regional markets. Regionalization throughout the various countries in Europe was the answer. A regionalized operation meant more local music, live events, and national news. Thus, MTVE, MTV Europe, created four separate services, MTV in the UK, MTV Central, MTV Southern, and MTV Nordic. This regionalization strategy was to make MTV more flexible towards to the programmes offered to its global and international audience.
Viva was founded, in Germany, in 1993 by four multinational record companies: Warner Music, Sony, EMI, and Polygram. Viva was MTV Germany’s biggest competitor but is now owned in majority by MTV. Viva is split into two channels called Viva and Viva Zwei. Viva is targeted at young viewers while Viva Zwei is targeted at the older population. In France, there are three contemporary music channels: MTVE, MCM/Euromusique and Muzzik. MCM, being the most popular, sold to the audience because 50 percent of the total content offered was devoted solely to French music.
Kraftwerk, Germany's early electronic leader that produced experimental sounds to be remixed by DJs
CONTENT: Josephine Bosma introduces this reading highlighting a recognizable shift in the field of pop music. There was a shift in the infrastructure, in the role of the musical medium, and in the cultural ratio of author-to-composition. She provides the example of the Techno phenomenon in Germany as a case study. Techno represented a music denied of any cultural or political relevance because it was only “technology” not humanity, which was expressing itself. “To the music industry, Techno was something that had made itself dependent on vinyl, and more precisely the 12” – a medium with no future, long regarded as dead (401).”
Techno lacked in two forms in its infrastructure, its definitive significance and its economical funding. Before the rise of techno, music culture depended on the backing of the music industry’s infrastructure, which includes studios, record companies, and concert promoters. However, techno finds itself leading a completely different role. Techno is independent, “in its role as an industry outsider and as manufacturer of its own infrastructure, finding itself in the remarkable position of actually profiting from its accomplishments and retaining its independence (402).”
For most music genres, the album and recording studios highlight its fame and luster. However, with techno, the 12” medium of vinyl transports the musical innovation of music. While, artists struggle in the long process of creating a single or an album, the 12” is the DJ’s core tool of production. The 12” vinyl medium is why techno seems to be able to create its own path and uphold its own set of rules, says Bosma.
Techno’s artistic position is created by the self-constructed infrastructure and the 12” medium. In Techno, names are irrelevant. The music does not represent the artist behind it, but rather the center of attention is solely on the music itself. This breaches into reflecting on music as a part of society.
Fashion media varies form fashion magazines, to television to blogs. Below Michel Adam founder of Fashion TV also hosts yacht events and cruises that some believe compromises the integrity of the media. Click here to see their footage of Carla Bruni.
McRobbie, Angela. In the UK: Fashion as a Culture Industry.
AUTHOR BIO: Angela McRobbie is a Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has written extensively on young women and popular culture and about making a living in the new cultural economy. McRobbie is the author of The Uses of Cultural Studies, In the Culture Society, British Fashion Design Rag Trade or Image Industry? as well as of numerous articles and essays. Her upcoming book Gender Culture and Social Change: the Post-Feminist Masquerade traces the distinctive values which emerge from within the shift towards a more pervasive neo-liberal culture and unravels the processes by which feminism appears to be taken into account, but only so that it is also undone.
CONTENT: Angela McRobbie introduces the article by giving a brief overview of Britain’s infrastructure. The UK wanted to escape from its stereotypical image and move onto a fresh new young image. It was eager for social change, and the key holders to this right of passage and social transformation were the young people. The agenda was to centralize and focus on the arts and culture industry. There was a national urge in the topic of promoting the arts and culture.
The British fashion scene is sometimes seen secondary to Paris but since the 1960's when the film Blow Up sensationalized London there has been a spotlight on it. Above clockwise Brits Gareth Pugh, Agnes Dyne and photographer Nick Knight.
McRobbie’s main focus is to offer the issues, which make it difficult for fashion designers to sustain both recognition and success and what this poses for fashion in the culture industry. She then implements this view and its effects for the overall governmental policy. Bosma emphasizes how the infrastructure of support for the new culture industries, which includes fashion, comes from the public sector. She offers many questions in concerns for the young creative artists and designers highlighting the questionable careers the government has paved for them.
Bosma introduces the rise of the art-school-trained fashion designer and the field of fashion and how fashion design was a resolutely feminized field. While it was a feminized field, there was a clear gender dynamic and questionable feminine degradation in the fashion industry.
See the last year's Central Saint Martins grads here
Bosma mentions the sociological demystification of the fashion industry and how there are many ambiguous answers revealed about rising to become a top designer. She notes how there is a great emphasis on networking and creating connections to get started in the fashion world. Furthermore, while fashion design implements creativity, Bosma notes the redundant and sad truth that while designers, “saw themselves as led by inspiration, ideas, intuition, and dreams; they knew they had to sell a look and a combination of ideas (259).”
Fashion design’s model of success hung around the notion of competitive individualism. “There was a rigid hierarchy and whole set of rituals of deference and authority in relation to the high-powered fashion leaders, the key journalists who were able to make or break careers, the ‘prima-donna’ designers who had made it to the top, the carelessness in regard to ensuring good working practices (260).” She mentions the yBas, Young British Artists, and how it was possible for them to produce their own shoes and pull their own resources to defy against from the traditional road to success.
Young British Artists or YBAs is the name given to a group of conceptual artists, painters, sculptors and installation artists based in the United Kingdom, most (though not all) of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London. Leading artists of the group are Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
However, most artists and designers Bosma interviewed lacked the resources and kind of support that many were exploited by middlemen and production companies. Sociologist Ulrich Beck called fashion design, risk work. Fashion design was called risk work because for many, the future was very unclear and unstable for young designers. Bosma points out two issues in which were: most designers were independent and worked on a small scale and second the lack of funding and the extent to which their personal economy could stretch.
However, a new model is emerging. “The other solution is that the chain store will step in, offering contracts to star designers to produce collections under their own labels but for the mass market (262).” While this may not be the most glamorous vision, it marks the fashion design field safe for some young designers.
Frau-Meigs, Divina. Big Brother and Reality TV in Europe: Towards a Theory of Situated Acculturation by the Media.
AUTHOR BIO: Divina Frau-Meigs, a Fulbright scholar, is professor of American studies and media sociology at the Université Paris 3-Sorbonne, France. With degrees from the Sorbonne University, Stanford University and the Annenberg School for Communications (University of Pennsylvania), she is a specialist of media and information technologies in English-speaking countries, in a comparative perspective. She is also a research associate with CNRS. Her other activities include being editor-in-chief of Revue Française d'Etudes Américaines (RFEA) and a member of the editorial board of MédiaMorphoses (INA-Colin). She has published extensively in the areas of media content, information and journalism, the technologies and sub-cultures of the screen and the relationship between media and technologies. She is currently working on issues of cultural diversity, acculturation, media education and e-learning in a global perspective.
CONTENT: Divina Frau-Meigs dives into this reading on the topic of acculturation in the media sector. Acculturation is the assimilation of a different culture, typically the most influential dominant one. She uses the television show Big Brother as her main case study. She splits the image of acculturation through media by three filters.
The first filter “makes a matrix of Anglo-American origin acceptable by editing out angst, around basic core values, like individualism, competition, profit, presentism (51).” The second filter, “in broadcasting, aims at making people accept the commercial audiovisual systems (51).” The third filter “shows a variety of strategies that vie or contend the values that are being transmitted by reality programming (51).”
Frau-Meigs gives a brief overview of the hybrid programme, which is a combination of game show, talk show, soap opera, and docudrama, and its invasion on European screens since the late 1990s. She defines the acculturation process as an explanation of domestic change after foreign contact, often implying an asymmetrical relation, with underlying economic and cultural power struggles. She notes how this term is frequently associated with the export of American products, which raises concerns about Americanization and the perceived threat of cultural imperialism.
Interculturation is the voluntary process of adoption rather than the unbalanced power relations associated with acculturation. The significance of reality television is that it can transfer new values and cause a weakening of national values. Reality TV programmes create concerns that the audiences react to moral values inserted within the imported formats and messages.
The first filter emphasizes how these reality programmes blur not only the “distinctions between national cultures but also the distinctions between the adult and adolescent worlds (39).” Bosma notes how they adopt trappings of youth culture and feminine cultures, which turn out to be the one and the same culture. Power is very minimal to the participants on the show, as most of the power is in the hands of the producers, broadcasters, and sponsors.
The second filter gives an example how television conforms to the expectations concerning national preference and identity recognition. Television is not a good medium for intercultural exchanges because it is its own self-preserving system. It conveys stereotypes and keeps them in constant circulation.
The third filter highlights how the receptions of these reality TV programmes reach mainly the women and young people with little education. Surprisingly, the youth culture age is more transnational than expected. There are two reactions towards shows like Big Brother, either support attended by identification or on the other, suspicion attended by criticism.