Media as a culturally specific entity: appreciating the essence of international media

On: September 13, 2010
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About ibtisam omer
Hi and hello I am twenty three years old and for the past four years I have studied sociology and media studies in three different places: Stockholm, UK and Hong Kong. I graduated at the University of Essex in July and after that spent a few weeks interning at Global Grind in NY. Now I am here at the UvA and Im just about exploring the fundamentals of my degree, so far so nice. Other than this I was born and raised in Stockholm Sweden , to Eritrean parents. Stockholm being an immensly integrated city, I grew up enjoying a diverse cultral atmosphere. I travel a lot , I eat even more and I love social netwoking platforms; its beauty lays in the opportunity it gives people to exploit a public space introducing individual self projections. ibtisam


Contemporary mass media shares a very distinct role in the production of social values and norms in today s globalised societies, as we are surrounded and constantly fed information from a multitude of media sources. Internet users, television viewers, radio listeners, magazine readers or even anyone remotely attentive to posters and billboards on public transports and other public areas, everyone is exposed to media influences. The messages conveyed to us through the media, can be suggestive as guidelines in our everyday lives, we observe and process these streams of information both consciously and subconsciously, applying it to the general perceptions we have of our surroundings. The effects of a globalised and centralised mass media, becomes evident in the exchange of cultural and social values as well as within integrated popular cultures between societies and countries. The media can be suggested as a prominent source of social values and norms, as it conventionally reflects our societies.

I am suggesting mass media as a socially constructed phenomenon that provides a relatively general or in depth understanding of certain perspectives within a society, specifically that of advertisement. Advertisement becomes a method of communication using text and imagery for encouraging emotions and ideas. In intensively consumer orientated regions, advertisement dominates greater areas of public space, a space commonly invading the private realms of people. Assuming that adverts and other media related mediums provide common knowledge and insight to the socio-cultural aspects of a society, one should be able to use images from adverts to identify specific countries or regions. This based on another assumption that media is capable of being culturally specific in its portrayals.

The media as a culturally specific social entity is a crucial tool in our daily encounters with foreign environments. First visit to a new country or a region, one might benefit from casually watching the adverts on the local television channels in the hotel room or even picking up the local magazines and flick through to see how matters are being projected. The idea is that media carries cultural values through multitude of means, norms and social values which are visible in all kinds of print, film, advertisement etc. Yet some are portrayed using culturally specific contents and ideas, in most common cases it is a form of integrated contents, where it reflects the local traditions as well as contemporary (westernised) trends. Even the adverts that seem generally westernised and standardised reflect socio-historical events in specific areas of the world. The saying “ a picture says more than a thousand words” is not necessarily accurate, but it definitely has the potential of exhibiting more than its object. Most concepts depicted through the media, carry significant information that allows us to understand our surroundings and environment. So next time when on an overseas excursion, one might benefit from leaving the hotel room television on for a bit longer and enjoy the essence of foreign media.

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