Mass Media, Modernity, and Development: Arab States of the Gulf

Mass Media, Modernity, and Development: Arab States of the Gulf

Mass Media, Modernity, and Development: Arab States of the Gulf

Mass Media, Modernity, and Development: Arab States of the Gulf

Synopsis

Kazan presents both a review and a critique of classical and mainstream theories of modernization in general, and those of development communication in particular, to determine the degrees of validity, relevance, and applicability of these theories to the development situation of Gulf societies. He develops an integrated mass media effects model that factors in both macro and micro processes that are dynamically interconnected, interdependent, and continuously evolving and changing, to account for the impact of media on modernity and development. Media impact, according to this model, should be understood not only in terms of the socio-economic and psychological characteristics of the media audience, but also in terms of the dynamics of the whole socio-cultural and political system. Kazan concludes his study with a critique of the Western paradigm of development and presents an outline of a new paradigm of development that is more in harmony with the new physics, with the ecosystems, and with social justice.

Excerpt

There are very few people in this world who could have accomplished what Fayad Kazan achieves in this valuable work. It combines an unusally comprehensive discussion of theories of mass communication related to processes of social change, modernization and development, with a feat of research entrepreneurship that compels admiration. Only an "insider-outsider" like the author, hailing from the Middle East, fluent in Arabic and conversant with regional mores, but also the product of diligent training at Western Universities, could command the necessary skills to gain unique access to the chary, politically traditional societies of the Persian Gulf and utilize that access so well. He has had to be, simultaneously, both scholar-researcher and diplomat-organizer to obtain the interesting and significant data presented herein. Communications specialists and scientists focusing on social change in the developing world should be intrigued and stimulated by his research.

The Gulf nations on which he focuses have special theoretic appeal because they combine great modernity and high technology in certain areas, including the mass media, with extreme traditionalism in other realms, especially the social and political. This raises the fascinating question as to whether such seemingly bifurcated and internally incompatible systems can survive. Can modern mass media be used, in such partially developed societies, to maintain traditional ways or will they inevitably, by their very nature, undermine this apparently anachronistic system? Do modern mass media regardless of the specifics of their content, tend to produce changes in outlook among traditional people if they introduce new ways of seeing things? The Gulf nations examined provide a fascinating analytic test case for many features of contemporary theories of modernization and communications, and the author makes the most of it. He is at pains to explore his hard won data fully and fairly.

Of course, in addition to their theoretic significance for social scientists, the not very well known Gulf states investigated here have crucial political importance these days. The author's deep familiarity with the region generates many insights into matters of keen political relevance--an added, though perhaps not entirely . . .

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