The Politics of Reality Television: Global Perspectives

By Marwan M. Kraidy; Katherine Sender | Go to book overview

Introduction

Oren Livio

Like the more celebrated cases of Mark Twain, God, and the capitalist mode of production, initial reports of the nation-state’s death appear to have been greatly exaggerated. If the twenty-first century was projected, with Panglossian naïveté, to be one of neoliberal hyperglobalization, with globalization dynamics predicted to lead to the decline and eventual disappearance (or irrelevance) of the nation-state and its immersion in (or replacement by) transnational economic forces and organizations, then the continued, and often intensified, power of nation-centered configurations, identifications, and impulses has made it apparent that this prophecy was far off the mark. At the same time, ignoring the significant transformations in the principles according to which social and economic affairs are carried out on the global and local stages is no less misguided. Indeed, rather than extinguishing the nation-state or reducing its influence substantially, globalization appears to have radically altered both the functions fulfilled by nation-states in the new world order and the ways in which these functions are carried out. While the importance of these transformations has been recognized, it seems that at this stage, communication scholarship is still struggling to develop the appropriate conceptual tools to study them systematically. It is the complexities of such thinking about the new roles of the nation-state in the specific context of reality television, and the possibilities inhered within this genre for the development of such conceptual tools, that the three essays in this section attempt to address.

Reality television is particularly fecund territory for expanding traditional ways of thinking about the nation-state, as the genre embodies many of the tensions and ambivalences surrounding globalization and its organizing logic, projects an image of democratic involvement and participation that is associated with the political mechanisms of the nation-state, and is inextricably linked to the advent of new media technologies that are associated with the nation-state’s reduced control over the production and circulation of cultural content. All three essays in this section engage with these issues to different extents, and in combination, their carefully situated, nuanced analyses cover a wide spectrum of possibilities regarding reality television’s relation to the construction of national identity, which reveals both commonalities and disparities across the different

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