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
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
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
Tags: Ulasan Buku Cees Hamelink