Ini satu lagi ulasan buku yang saya buat dalam tahun 1995.
Trends in World Communication: On Disempowerment and Self-Empowerment. Hamelink, Cees J. 1994.Penang, Malaysia: Southbound and Third World Network.viii+168 pp.
This review appeared in The Journal of International Communication
Book Reviews in Vol. 2 No. 1 (1995)
This book is about how developments in world communication are making people less and less informed about events and processes around them. It shows how globalization, through consolidation and commercialisation, is disempowering individuals and societies. It is perhaps one of the best books on developments in world communication. It puts the fast-moving world of communication in proper perspective. While tracing the history of globalization, it also identifies four major trends in world communication. The book offers suggestions for self- empowerment and proposes a people's communication charter. At the outset, Hamelink takes a critical look at the 1960s' concept of global village, which is being widely used to describe the developments in the world, especially pertaining to communication. While he accepts that advances in communication and transport technology have made nore contacts among people and nations a reality, he says it is wrong to project the world as a village. He sets out to dispel the notion associated with the metaphor. First, he says, it is wrong to suggest that the world shown on television has a global scope, because such an assertion ignores the very limited and fragmented nature of international reporting. Second, it is misleading to assume that watching TV news leads to genuine knowledge and understanding about world events. Third, in the real village situation most people know what is going on and know each other, but the opposite is true in the real world: there is more going on than ever before, yet most people know very little about it; and the majority of the world's citizens have little knowledge or understanding of each other. Fourth, the term "global village" assumes that the world is shrinking and becoming a smaller place. In a real sense, however, the world is expanding. There is more world than ever before in history: more people, more nations and more conflicts. The global village concept provides a very good launching pad for Hamelink to strike at the stark reality about the development of global communication and the impact to the world at large. As he sees it, disparity is a clear feature of today's global communication. For instance, information flows across the globe are imbalanced, because most of the world's information moves among the countries in the North, less between the North and the South, and very little flows among the countries of the South. Wasn't this a subject much discussed in UNESCO during the tenure of Director-General Amadou Mahtar M'Bow who, with the backing of Third World countries, was trying to balance things up? But now everything seems unstoppable. What is happening is quite disturbing. As Hamelink says, today's institutions and processes of world communication have a disempowering effect. To put the current world picture into perspective, Hamelink traces the history of world communication. He traces the recent situation to the flow of transnationalization, from the North to the South, in search of cheap labour and new markets. The real growth and signifance of world communication began to take shape after World War II. The major factors that steered the direction of the world communication were East/ West and North/South politics, the world economy and its key actors: the transnational corporations and the technological innovations. History shows that the proliferation of industrial investment required the coordination of widely dispersed units of transnational corporations. The result of this overall economic development was the proliferation of a transnational communication industry across the world. Hamelink names the U.S. communication corporations with the largest defence contracts for military equipment, the communication corporation with the largest defence contracts for research and development, and the top corporation in the international communication industry with strong direct military connections. That brings him to the trends in world communication. The major ones he identifies are digitization, consolidation, deregulation and globalization, which are inter-related. Digitization provides the technological basis for globalization as it facilitaes the global trading of services, worldwide financial networks and the spreading of high technology research and development across the globe. Consolidation forms the basis for globalization, and the movement toward global markets forces the companies to merge in order to remain competitive in a world market. The trend in consolidation, Hamelink says, has resulted in many huge companies in the communication industry forming mega-mergers. One disturbing development is the oligopolization of the communication industry, which tends to undermine the civil and political fundamental rights of freedom of expression. The trends toward digitization and consolidation go together with a shift from regulated, controlled public-service type information and telecommunication services to a competitive environment for the trading of these services by private market operators. At the same time, the trend toward deregulation strongly reinforces both digitization and consolidation. Hamelink argues that the current trends in world communication converge toward the disempowerment of people. They contribute to the establishment of a new world order that is inegalitarian, exclusive and elite-oriented. He suggests empowerment as a response to disempowerment. Empowerment means giving power to the people through the strategies of regulation, education, focus on alternative communication forms, and technical approaches. He also suggests people's media, media owned and controlled by the powerless with the intention to empower themselves, people's networks, and the revolt of civil society. The idea behind empowerment is to give a voice to the voiceless. It sounds very positive, but it is optimistic to expect much from the suggestion. That's probably where the people's communication charter comes into play. The author hopes to develop this into a people's movement. Whatever it is, the book makes a great reading. Mohd. Safar Hasim, associate professor Department of Communication Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia