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Free will society

International communication

May 2014

STAUBAAR & THE CONCEPT OF CULTURAL IDENTITY Do we really have a choice in what we watch on TV In this new post, I would like to talk about Straubhaar article, Rethinking Cultural Proximity: Multiple television flows for multi- layered cultural identities. “This article argues that audience preferences are formed within the overall trends toward cultural proximity within both national and cultural-linguistic boundaries”. The whole phenomenon of cultural proximity affects very different scales it is not only national and supranational it is also subnational and regional. Straubhaar first examines the attraction or proximity of genres. Then, he discusses the sense of shared historical experience of specific groups within nations and how this particular form of proximity might operate at the reception level. The whole concept of cultural proximity is to affirm that certain geographical and cultural audiences will tend to prefer their own local or national culture. This concept gives the ability to predict what certain audiences would like to watch. In his paper Straubhaar examines “the continuing power held by U.S. exporters and national television producers, as well as the emergence of several other layers of production and distribution power at global and transnational levels.” Of course, in this era of globalization we cannot expect the cultural products that we see on T.V or in movie theaters to be produced locally. As a lot of charts show, most of the globally successful products are made in the United States. Because the US are the most productive country they are the one with the most influence. Indeed, you cannot escape their products because they flood the market. In order to avoid them, one would almost have to stop going to the movies. The US are particularly powerful and productive in some specific genres such as cartoons, action and adventures movies, US dramas. If the US are very powerful as a country in the production of cultural products they are not the one with the more power in cultural proximity. In fact, those who hold the power are not countries per se, they are individuals. This sentence from the article is a very good summary of the conclusion of the impact proximity: “what we see in cultural proximity in television flow studies is not necessarily a clear reflection of audiences‘ direct preference, but rather what programmers‘ think audiences want” (Havens 2006). “There is an important mediation in which national programmers for the main broadcast television select which kinds of programs from which producers to put into their schedules.” The decision makers who decide what is going on air and what is not are the one that make the choice for the people that watch it. Most of those decision makers are profit focused, they just want to put on air what is going to be watched the most, and not what is going to be appreciated the most or what could be the most interesting. The only choice left to the audience is whether or not to watch television. I would say that this aspect of globalization has reduced our ability to express our free will.

Staubaar & cultural identity  


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