[TISEA 1992] Panel Paper: Patricia Search – The Rhythm and Structure of Multi-Cultural Communication


Global culture: one, many or none? Social scientists throughout the world are raising questions concerning the impact of telecommunications on the development of a global culture. While some theorists take the position that telecommunications will erode cultural differences and leave museums as the sole purveyors of cultural history, other experts propose the emergence of not one, but several types of global cultures.


Global culture: one, many or none? Social scientists throughout the world are raising questions concerning the impact of telecommunications on the development of a global culture. While some theorists take the position that telecommunications will erode cultural differences and leave museums as the sole purveyors of cultural history (Horne 1984), other experts propose the emergence of not one, but several types of global cultures. For example, Arjun Appadurai (1990), Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania,
proposes five dimensions of global culture:
– ethnoscapes: the migration of tourists, immigrants, and refugees;
– technoscapes: the flow of machinery and technology produced by international corporations and government agencies;
– finanscapes: the international flow of currency and stock exchanges;
– mediascapes: the international distribution of news and media communication;
– ideoscapes: the images and associations linked to national ideologies.
Not all social scientists are following Appadurai’s lead in detailing distinct levels of global interaction. However, many experts, like Ulf Hannerz from the University of Stockholm, define two general categories of global culture: local cultures defined by geographical boundaries, and cosmopolitan cultures which are comprised of transnational cultural networks (Hannerz 1990). While such perspectives on global cultures acknowledge that electronic technology is reshaping the structure of international dialogue, there is little evidence to suggest that telecommunications will lead to a universal global culture that eliminates cultural diversity.

  • Patricia Search, teaches computer graphics and hypermedia interface design in the Department of Language, Literature and Communication at lhe Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, NY, USA. Her artwork has been displayed in solo and juried exhibitions, and has been published in numerous journals and in a television documentary. She has written on computer graphics, animation, electronic art, inferacrive museum technology, and hypermedia interface design.

Full text (p.62-69)