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    The Culture of sustainable development: the interaction of universal and national values


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    Global vs. local identities: The role of media in process of sustainable cultural development

    In an era of market and media globalization, the concept of national identity and national (cultural) values has been experiencing what appears to be a fundamental transformation. On the other hand, there is conceptualizing crisis of so-called universal values ​​because it involves a unique concept of culture. Both concepts are relatives, at least within the dominant theories of cultural development. The concept of national cultural identity is increasingly being replaced by the fashionable concept of multiculturalism, while the universal cultural values are ​​now considered as values ​​that are global in character. Conserving, but also transcending of national cultural values ​​within the European Union, for example, launches the idea of multiculturalism, the idea that some EU leaders, like German Chancellor Merkel, has already challenged. At the same time it inaugurates the idea of world cultural heritage, which would be based both on the notion of cultural relativism and the idea of universal cultural values, which would be applied to all mankind in all periods of time.

    Still, the idea of sustainable development, originally taken from the ecology and the “philosophy” of business, is itself problematic, in an age of keeping the many wars between different cultures across the globe, for territories, as also for many other resources. Under the threat of terrorism, mass destruction of war and nuclear disasters, the concept of culture’s sustainability and its development becomes of vital importance. The survival of a culture literally means the survival of the community and the world around us. But what kind of culture is around us? It could be said that under the influence of consumerism and the universal prevalence of the media image of the world, in some sense, a change has come in the perception and understanding of the world of culture, or culture, that today, globally speaking, identifies with the phrase “media culture” (Kellner). What does that actually mean?

    According to the intuitions of Lev Manovich (Manovich), a former world culture becomes the software, and contemporary culture is viewed as the separate software and becomes part of the continuous development of the idea and practice of universal culture.  This, at the same time, means that we now see culture through its media mediation. In other words, the traditional concept of culture is transformed into a media category. The media are becoming crucial not only for representing the culture of a region, but also they significantly affect its determination. Hence the “media culture” is not just a derivative of culture as such, but represents the synonym of global culture. So, it is right to say that the national cultures again arise in the interaction with the global media culture, which certainly implies their reformulation into something completely different, in terms of what they represented in the era of the reign of romanticism, for example, when the cultural identity was an integral part of the national identity of a community.

    Global media, in fact, have no interest in protecting national cultural identities. Their interest is based on profit or to spread a certain ideology, due to their commercial nature or they are owned by the state (CNN or CCTV). If a global media promotes certain states and their national culture, this is done due to commercial reasons – the most famous example is CNN, with short video clips that are representing the touristic, and, consequently, the cultural offer of individual states. In contrast, the local cultures are usually represented from the perspective of “exotic”, where local is not linked to the national, but also, paradoxically, with the global trends of the development of civilization. The only thing more rare, the national public service broadcasters (radio and TV) in Europe, for example, as much as possible, take into account the presence priorities of national culture/national cultures in their programs, while a critical attitude to link between markets and culture is fostered only by alternative media. When it comes to the universal cultural values, however they are defined, they are generally translate into media supported platitudes, such as democracy, human rights, etc.

    Values ​​that dominate in the Euro-Atlantic zone of influences expanded by global commercial media are the profit and consumption, therefore – the market values, in other words the information and entertainment. The information is sold and consumed as a commodity, former cultural values ​​are reduced to mere entertainment. That is the subject not only of commercial satellite TV and radio stations, but also, to a large extent, of the press and so-called social media. By word “media culture” the culture is suppressed in most cases, it is understood in the traditional sense of the term, either as universal or as a constituent part of the national identity. Networked media world is truly interacting – local values are in conjunction with a global market valued, and the culture is interpreted as a resource to achieve profits or branding of a particular country and presenting its local traditions (folklore). The universal cultural values are reduced ​​through the media on global cultural trends and national cultural identities are also in the media, fragmentized on exotic, local identities, which usually should serve to the tourism industry.

     This concept of “culture”, conceived as “media culture” is “sustainable”, but the question is whether it corresponds to the idea of culture and universal cultural values, or is it just a means of making profit, and support for media, touristic and any other capital of global society of the spectacle (Debord). Interaction, realized through the media between global and local cultural heritage, values ​​and products, is the only illusion of dialogue between values ​​and cultures, and the only thing that keeps them in fellowship, is the world of capital, in my opinion. Cultural values ​​are something different in contrast to market. If they are universal, they will not be “consumed” and they will last, if they are particular in character, as national cultures, they participate in these universal values​​, establishing a genuine dialogue with them, as opposed to a market competition, and interaction that is encouraged by the media, making it for the purpose of increasing accumulation of capital, and adaptation of cultural values ​​to media world and “glocal” market.

    Culture is, in our view, sustainable in itself, as far as humanity is able to determine it as a way of life, the environment of freedom and creativity, and not as one of many resources for exploitation. The media cannot represent such view of culture, because “media culture” is mainly made by the logic of profit and not as a critics of current socio-economic values​​.


     for P.U.L.S.E World edition: Divna Vuksanović

    dedicated to my mom and dad

    Translated by Katarina Šmakić

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