New media and
Globalization involves a checkered process of systematic desegregation in which local cultures lose their autonomous and separate existence and become thoroughly interdependent and interconnected. (Ang 1996, p 157)
It is obvious to any casual observer of international affairs that today's world is far more interdependent than ever before. But it is not true. (Beinart 1997)
Ang and Beinart are at opposite ends in their interpretation of what is happening with new media and new audiences. Ang is a proponent of radical change— the idea that we have entered a new kind of global society. Globalisation can be seen in the process of post-industrialisation (Bell 1989) and postmodernism (Baudrillard 1983). Beinart is a proponent of continuity—the idea that we are still in the same kind of international society. Globalisation is much the same as it has always been within the operation of the nation-state (Giddens 1991), modern industry generally (Schiller 1989) and the evolution of the public sphere (Habermas 1989). Giddens (1998) more recently advocated a ‘third way’ in globalisation theory and philosophy, combining wealth creation and social cohesion.
Such speculations, and others provided in previous chapters, are important to media studies because they set the framework for thinking about the future. But there is another side to speculation—testing the present. The modern media industry—from infrastructure to content provision—is more than an ideologically market-driven machine. Industry has a legitimate role in testing what people need.
In the 1940s, Theodore Adorno made a distinction between ‘critical research’—broader society-level attempts to predict the effects of new media— and ‘administrative research’—government and industry attempts to test public opinion and how people use media. Initially, Adorno gave critical theory the edge in the testing stakes. But Adorno changed his mind on this divide as he saw new