Books -- Media, Communication, Culture, a Global Approach by James Lull

Article excerpt

* Lull, James (1995). Media, Communication, Culture, a Global Approach. New York: Columbia University Press. 193 pp. Paperback, $15.

Author James Lull takes observations from living in places as diverse as China and Brazil to critique communication theories. His global approach results in a most readable book on theory with examples to help explain concepts like hegemony and post-modernism.

In the first chapter on image systems and hegemony, Lull looks at how television is handled in various cultures and what it reflects about who is in charge. For example, Sunday has become a television day in India, and men and women come together for nighttime viewing, changing their interaction and how food is prepared. Television viewing has smoothed out differences in status between male and female, young and old. Yet where people sit to watch television still reflects differences in caste.

The author's breadth of international experience is impressive and adds life to the book. His anecdotes run the gamut from spiritual politics in the colonial Puritan church to a look at what athletic shoe ads reflect about the inner city. He makes good use of pictures and charts.

The first chapter is one of the hardest to read, perhaps because of its concentration of theories and names. Lull does an admirable job of weaving together anecdotes and theoretical names and scholars, but it still seems dense with names.

Lull's theme is that culture ultimately can never be fully managed by any society's political-economic power brokers. Statements of official or dominant ideologies do not determine culture. …