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Americanization, Globalization and Secularization

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Americanization, Globalization and Secularization: Understanding the Convergence of Media Systems and Political Communication in the U.S. and Western Europe A powerful trend is clearly underway in the direction of greater similarity in the way the public sphere is structured across the world. In their products, in their professional practices and cultures, in their systems of relationships with other political and social institutions, media systems across the world are becoming increasingly alike. Political systems, meanwile, are becoming increasingly similar in the patterns of communication they incorporate. We will explore this trend toward global homogenization of media systems and the public sphere, focusing particularly on the relations between media and political systems, and on the industrialized, capitalist democracies of Western Europe and North America. We will organize our discussion of how to account for this trend around two pairs of contrasting perspectives. Much of the literature on homogenization sees it in terms of Americanization or globalization: that is, in terms of forces external to the national social and political systems in which media systems were previously rooted. ...read more.


The U.S. was once almost alone among industrialized countries in its system of commercial broadcasting; now commercial broadcasting is becoming the norm. The model of information-oriented, politically-neutral professionalism that has prevailed in the U.S. and to a somewhat lesser degree in Britain increasingly dominates the news media worldwide. The personalized, media-centered forms of election campaigning, using techniques similar to consumer product marketing, that again were pioneered in the U.S., similarly are becoming more and more common in European politics (Swanson & Mancini, 1996; Butler & Ranney, 1992). It is clear too that direct cultural diffusion from the United States has played a role in these changes. American concepts of journalistic professionalism and press freedom based in privately owned media, for example, were actively spread by the government- sponsored "free press crusade" of the early Cold War period (Blanchard, 1986), and reinforced in later years by a variety of cultural influences, ranging from professional education and academic research in U.S. universities and private research institutes (Tunstall, 1977; Mancini, 2000), to internationally circulated media like the Herald-Tribune and CNN and products of popular culture like the film All the President's Men.1[1] American campaign consultants ...read more.


One is European integration. With the Television without Frontiers Directive of 1989, the European Union embarked deliberately on an attempt to create a common broadcasting market, an objective which required harmonization of regulatory regimes across the continent. This and other elements of European law have undercut the earlier multiplicity of communication policies and patterns of relationship between the media and national political systems. Closely related is a strong trend toward internationalization of media ownership. The search for ever greater amounts of capital to invest in new technologies and to compete in liberalized international markets has produced a strong trend toward the development of multinational media corporations (Herman & McChesney, 1997). Clearly such corporations, to achieve economies of scale and scope and to take advantage of market integration, tend to internationalize both products and production and distribution processes, contributing further to the homogenization of strategies and professional practices. The extra-national circulation of professionalism, the integration of company management within the same group and the universal circulation of the same products can only weaken those national characteristics that, at least in part, had made economic and entrepreneurial systems of individual countries different from each other. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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