Advancements in communication technologies, particularly media technologies have altered the notion of distance in communication thereby bringing about the global village concept proposed by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s. This erosion of boundaries has created crosscultural exchanges between and among cultures, thereby creating new patterns of doing things or eroding existing cultural values within a given cultural boundary. This study examines the influence of media globalization on the culture of Warri in Delta State. It employed the survey method of research, using a sample of three hundred (300) respondents who were purposively chosen from the Warri metropolis in Delta State. The research involved an examination of secondary data to generate data and assumptions for the study. Findings from the study reveals that media globalization has the capacity of destroying the African culture and that foreign cultures are dominating the local cultures of Warri as a result of media globalization effects. Also, the decay in morals in the area of study was also traced to the adverse effects of media globalization.
1.1 Background of the Study
Values that people cherish manifest in their daily lives. Africans have distinct traditional values embodied in the culture they cherished even before the coming of colonial adventurers. The preservation of the peoples’ culture is evident in both the traditional institutions and the channels of communication dominant among the people. Unfortunately, the media of communication available were not developed beyond their common boundary; hence, African traditional culture could not be appreciated by the outside world. Meanwhile, development in media technologies made it possible for the culture of the Western countries to be packaged in forms of soap operas, music, films and cartoons and exported to different parts of the world. These popular genres have become the standard for measuring entertainment around the world. The effect is that Western values have spread to every nook and cranny of the entire globe.
The mass media in the Western countries continue to portray the countries in the Southern hemisphere as areas which were ridden with coups, earthquakes, dictatorships, political instability, HIV/AIDS, conflicts, catastrophe, hunger, famine, corruption and other dangerous scourges. These issues which fit into the West’s stereotype of developing countries
as well as the economic benefits they stand to gain over these developing countries especially in Africa necessitated the call for the establishment of a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO). Although the debate for a new world order succeeded in raising fundamental issues, it however failed to address the very issues that led to the agitations.
Developing nations had no developed mass media system until after their independence. Even the media systems dominant after independence in these countries, are products of systems inherited from their colonial masters. Thus, broadcast contents showed on national television in most of these countries were thought initially to be tools of entertainment and information without any element of suspicion, until the mid-seventies when the debate on media and cultural imperialism caught the consciousness of culturist and communication researchers.
Sobowale (1988.17) raised this observation in his comment on the negative impact of the commercialization of the Nigeria Television Authority to national development when he said, a trend that some communication scholars and some experts consider dangerous has emerged in the commercialization of news by the Nigeria Television Authority. If this trend is not checked, it may mean that only those who could pay for their activities, no matter how unimportant or irrelevant this may be would receive coverage by the NTA with the exception of the government which owns it. The consequences of such a situation are better imagined than described. Even after the deregulation of the broadcasting industry in Nigeria, the few cultural programmes on air,
like The Village Headmaster, The New Masquerade, Tales by Moonlight, as well as other local music and drama, all gave way to foreign soap-operas like Secret of the Sand, Touched by an Angel, Until my Last Breath, Catalina and Sebastian, Second Chance,
MTV music which is aired at little cost to the stations has much economic benefits. According to McQuail (2005, p.255) the implication of the above assumption is the transmission of overall cultural or ideological content which often has been interpreted in terms of Western values, especially those of individualism, secularism and materialism. The internet breaks down cultural boundaries across the world by enabling easy, near instantaneous communication between people anywhere in a variety of digital forms and media. The internet is associated with the process of cultural globalization because it allows interaction and communication between people with very different lifestyles and from very different cultures. Photo sharing websites allow interaction even where language would otherwise be a barrier.
When viewed from the perspective of Nwodu’s (2007, p.105) assumption about culture, Western values may not suit African values. According to him “culture therefore guides the conducts of man in society. It prescribes the acceptable pattern of living needed for peaceful co-existence among individuals within a defined culture”. For instance, African cultural heritage places emphasis on communal life, family, concern for one’s neighbour, morality, the dignity of man, the dignity of labour, customs and traditions. These contrast strongly with the values of the West which are predominantly the content of the global media.
Okoye (1977, p.38) reinforces these African values when he notes that we may concede that there is a sense in which we can still speak of distinct African, Asian, European or American cultures. African culture is positive, and humanistic. It is our feeling of brotherhood and togetherness, the validity and efficacy of our moral codes and traditional statecraft and our unstinting hospitality. Onwubiko (1995, p.13-16) notes that, sense of communal life, sense of good human relations, sense of sacredness of life, sense of hospitality, sense of sacredness of religion, sense of time, sense of respect for elders, sense of language and proverbs are cohesive force of the community based on truth and this is the hallmark of the African society.
Unfortunately, however, foreign cultures continue to invade our indigenous cultures as a result of the channels of mass communication which is brazenly dominated by foreign contents. Although the National roadcasting Code stipulates a 60:40 local to foreign content in broadcasting, it must be stated that local programmes that can promote the cultural heritage are left without sponsors, leaving our cultures at the mercies of multi-nationals who are ready to spend good chunk of their budgets on sponsoring foreign soaps that will transmit their cultures to us through our airwaves. In addition, the associated technologies are foreign, thereby creating room for the influx of global media content.
Pillota (1992, p.13) argues that the delivery of technological implements and knowledge across cultural boundaries is, therefore, an intermixing of cultures. The recipient of the technological input is also a recipient of foreign cultural values embedded in the technology itself. Okunna (1999, p.145) adds that, “whether through their importation of
Western culture or through Direct Broadcast Satellites (DBS) over which they have no control, developing countries are at the receiving end of alien cultures which are alienating their people from their own cultures.
The challenge of media globalization on culture has its root on even the meaning of the term. Globalization can be seen as the inexorable integration of markets, nation-states and technologies to a degree never witnessed before in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach round the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before.
On this note, McQuail (2005, p.250) opines that globalization and concentration of large media companies tend also to lead to cartel forming, and the very large firms co-operate in various ways as well as compete. This creates a flow in media content. Sepstrup (1989), examines some of the ways in which the flow of media content and audience experience are in some sense globalized. He differentiates flow as: national – where foreign (not homeproduced) content is distributed in the national television system; bilateral – where content originating in and intended for one country is received directly in a neigbouring country; and multilateral – where content is produced or disseminated without a specific national audience in mind. Thus, the flow of media content on a global scale creates a cultural consequence of what Hamelink (1983, p.22) says, “implies that the decisions regarding the cultural development of a given country are made in accordance with the interests and needs of a powerful central nation. They are then imposed with subtle but devastating effectiveness without regard for the adaptive necessities of the dependent nation”.
In relation to Nigeria in particular, there is a phenomenal change in the dress pattern of the young and old, where the shift is from native dresses to English, French and American styles. In the area of food, attention seems to have moved to fast food joints springing up every day. Children now prefer Indomie and other canned food products to eba, plantain, starch which have hitherto been the traditional food of the people. The tendency is for the youths to tag cultural projectionist as “uncivilized’, “old school” and “ancient”.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The interactions occasioned by information and communication technologies have given rise to the concept of globalization. However, the mass mediation of other cultural practices, values, social lifestyles and other idiosyncrasies carried in form of films, soap operas, music, religious articles which are exhibited on media channels available in Warri seem to have brought phenomenal influence on the culture of Warri.
While some scholars argue that global media may help in the process of cultural growth, diffusion, invention and creativity, and are not just undermining existing culture, others contend that the movement towards a global media culture implies a downgrading of cultural specificity in themes and settings and a preference for formats and genres that are thought to be more universal. The effect is the tendency towards displacing or subordinating the original culture of the receiving localities and causing the people to imitate the international model of the popular culture frequently available in the media and their associated technologies.
In the light of the arguments about the influence of media globalization on cultures, the problem statement motivating this study therefore is to investigate the influence of media globalization on the culture of Warri in Delta State of Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of Study
The study aimed at achieving the following objectives:
1. To determine whether the nature of the influence is negative or positive;
2. To find out if the channels have any influence on the culture of Warri;
3. To find out if media globalization has been able to promote the cultures
of Warri residents; and
4. To determine whether such influences can be harnessed to the benefit of
the Warri community.
1.4 Significance of Study
The significance of this study cannot be overemphasized. It would help build on existing literature on media globalization and culture. It would provide data for cultural researchers interested in the cultural heritage of the people in Warri metropolis and it would broaden the researcher’s knowledge of culture and media globalization.
1.5 Research Questions
Based on the research objectives, the following research questions would guide the study;
1. What are the channels media channels of globalization that Warri residents are exposed to?
2. To what extent do these channels influence the culture of Warri?
3. To what extent can such influences be harnessed to the benefit of Warri?
4. To what extent has media globalization been able to promote the cultures of Warri?
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study covered respondents in Warri metropolis. Warri is a major oil city in Delta State, Nigeria, with a population of over a million people within the Warri metropolis (NPC 2007). The people of Warri are mainly the Itsekiris, Urhobos, and Ijaws but other ethnic groups also live within the city. Warri is a predominantly Christian area like most of Southern
Nigeria. The city is known nationwide for its unique “Pidgin English”. The metropolis due to infrastructural development has expanded to include boundary towns like Uvwie, Udu and Okpe in recent years with various road networks linking these places into one. It is important to know that each of these towns have its own administrative structure. The cosmopolitan nature of the area posed a problem to some respondents who could not understand the key cultures of the area due to the fact that urbanization has swallowed them up. However, a sample of respondents were drawn from the following areas; Effurun, Aladja, Udu, Enerhen,
Ekurede-Itsekiri, Ogunu, Edjeba and Ogbe-Ijoh in the metropolis in order to manage the study properly.
1.8 Limitation of the study
As a study that sought to gauge the ulterior feelings of the respondents, it became difficult to ascertain their manifest responses through a face-to-face contact. The researcher therefore resorted to the use of a questionnaire for the collection of their opinions. Again, many of the respondents were not leaned in the English language as they speak mostly the pidgin version. The researcher was able to overcome this limitation by explaining the questions in Pidgin English where the respondents do not understand. Another problem was that of the respondents asking for some form of gratification before responding to questions. The appeal by the researcher made some to participate while those who insisted were left alone.
1.9 Definition of Terms
The following terms are considered useful and are operationalised in the study.
Channels – All channels through which individuals access information and entertainment contents which has implications on culture. They include; television, radio, newspapers, magazines, internet, mobile phones etc.
Cultural commodities – Cultural contents sold as entertainment.
Cultural heritage – The set of values and cultural practices bequeathed to the people over-time.
Culture – A shared set of beliefs, customs, and ideas that hold people together in recognizable, self-identified groups.
Global village – the integration of countries of the world into a common community through the convergence of technologies as predicted by Marshal McLuhan.
Globalization – The drive towards homogenization of cultural values, socio-economic lifestyles.
Media globalization – A generalized media system propelled by technologies, in which time and distance become no barrier in the distribution and exchange of cultures.
Media imperialism – The domination of a local media by foreign contents/programmes.
Monopolization – The control of cultural commodities by few large capitalist corporations.
Nature – This will stand for positive or negative influence of media globalization on culture
Warri metropolis – This includes Warri main city and adjourning towns namely: Aladja, Edjeba, Effurun, Ekurede-Itsekiri, Enerhen, Ogbe-Ijoh, Ogunu and Udu.