New Media and Cultural Identity in the Global Society

New Media and Cultural Identity in the Global Society

Guo-Ming Chen (South China University of Technology, China) and Kai Zhang (University of Rhode Island, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch051
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New media has been the main force accelerating the development of globalizing society in the last two decades. With its digital, convergent, interactive, hypertextual, and virtual nature, new media has brought human interaction and society to a highly interconnected and complex level. The rapid transformation of human society due to the impact of the convergence of new media and globalization directly influences the construction and development of cultural identity. The emergence of new media and globalization not only breaks through the limit of the traditional time and space, but also may challenge the meaning of cultural identity. The purpose of this chapter is to unravel the intricate relationships between new media, globalization, and cultural identity through the process of definition, interpretation, and critical analysis.
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The advent of the new century, after years of immersion in the capitalism system, may mean a gradual transformation of the old society into a new one which demands a different way of thinking and lifestyle. The globalizing society represents a state of competition and co-existence among different cultures. Although the history of contact between different societies or ethnic groups has been thousands of years (Lubbers, 1998), the impact of globalization on modern society is far beyond what people could imagine a few decades ago. In economy, for example, to succeed in global competition a modern company must possess the ability to seek for open markets around the world, to gain enough profits through effective management in global business transactions, and to meet the needs of global clients by acquiring the knowledge and understanding of local markets (Gupta & Govindarajan, 1997).

From social and cultural perspectives, globalization has a significant impact on sense of community, establishment of civic society, and cultural diversity (Chen & Starosta, 2000). Globalization has redefined the meaning of community with a new look at inclusiveness and collective sense of identity. The wall between traditional communities also collapsed due to the constant flush of globalization. This transformation, based on extension and expansion from the local to global level, provided citizens in the 21st century opportunities and challenges for learning how to harmoniously co-exist and develop an ideal future world.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hypertextuality: The networking function of new media that allows a large quantity of information to freely move around within a series of interconnected nodes in the network.

Interactivity: The degree of choice and control when new media users utilize information resources and the system.

Virtuality: The cyberspace felt by interactants during the communication in the network; or the virtual experience and reality developed through the interaction in cyberspace produced by simulation and image technologies.

Convergency: The forms and functions of electronic computing, electronic communication, media, and information are combined via new media.

Digitality: The forms of information are encoded in a simple binary code of 0 and 1 in new media.

Cultural identity: A sense of belonging, originated from the interaction and negotiation between the self and the affiliated group, to a community.

New Media: Also called digital media. Those technological forms combine communication networks, computing and information technology, and digitized media and information content.

Globalization: A process by which the experience of everyday life around the world becomes increasingly integrated due to the compression of time and space.

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