What I’m Reading: Language and Globalization

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I am currently studying Religion in Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University. As part of the literature course, our professor has asked us to write a bibliographical review of sources that we may use for our thesis. I have chosen to write my thesis on media and its effect on immigration policy. Therefore, I will be reviewing articles and books that focus mostly on the refugee crisis sparked in part by the Arab Spring movement in 2011.

Norman Fairclough’s Language and Globalization is a treatise on how language is being used to prop up neoliberal hegemony. Proponents of globalism conflate the idea of an increasingly connected world with the idea of free trade and low government interference.

Globalism and globalization are not the same thing: globalism is the neoliberal idea of capital moving freely around. According to Fairclough there are six tenets of the globalist idea (2007: 33); remember that globalization (the connectedness of the world) and globalism (capital moving across international borders) are two different ideas. However, in globalist texts, they are one and the same.

According to Fairclough “globalism can be seen as having created a space for unconstrained and highly profitable action on the part of the corporations of the most power countries on earth…on the basis of the claim that markets work benignly without external regulation which the crises of the late 1990s…have shown to be false” (2007: 34). Even the move from industry and manufacturing to the so-called Knowledge Based Economy has been described as inevitable, and globalists insist that there should be no regulations on this economy (Fairclough 2007).

So how has globalism affected media? Fairclough uses Chouliaraki’s ideas from her books to describe how globalism still paints news from a Western perspective, but he also points out that most Western news is controlled by Western multinational corporations (2007). Fairclough writes that “they have contributed to the dissemination of globalist discourse, claims and assumptions, and of the values, attitudes and identities which are culture conditions for the successful implementation of globalism” (2007: 85).

Knowing that media is affected by outside forces will help me be able to analyse the articles and videos that I am going to read for my thesis. Fairclough is a leading expert on critical discourse analysis, and his books will help me strengthen my arguments.

photo: Andras Barta

#atozchallenge: The Moral Relativism of a Global Citizen

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People who are bi- or multi- lingual tend to have different personalities when they switch languages. I speak multiple languages fluently, and perhaps I have seen a difference in what I think/how I express those thoughts, but I am just one person, and anecdotes are not data.

Do people who have lived around the world have different ideas about morality and ethics? I’m not sure, but I can imagine it depends on how you lived in those countries. If you were sheltered away on a military base or in an ex-pat enclave, then your moral and ethical upbringing would be as close to your home culture as possible, or even more extreme, in some cases.

I am probably  more liberal than some people my age living in Georgia. I am probably more aware of international events because I’m able to read newspapers in multiple languages with various contexts. But is that because of my cultural upbringing or the fact that I am not part of the majority culture in the first place?  Am I more progressive because I have to think and process in multiple languages and across multiple cultures?

There is more to morality and ethics than knowing what is offensive to one culture or the other, but many times that is what it boils down to in daily discourse. It’s easy to dismiss cultural mores when they don’t match up with our own as ‘barbaric’ or ‘strange’, but it is worth it to actually look at the place it comes from and compare it to our own before dismissing it outright. – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by K Wol