Global Information and World Communication: New Frontiers in International Relations


Hamid Mowlana

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    To the memory of my parents, who first taught me the importance of communication and its meaning

    Preface to the Revised Edition

    The view informing this book is that the world society in general and international relations in particular can only be understood through a study of the messages and communication facilities that belong to it. It is also a thesis of this book that the new international relations is more than the political and economic relations among its components. Culture and communication are the fundamental aspects of the process and must be included in the foci of the analysis.

    This study, therefore, takes a broader view of the international flow of information than the traditional analysis of mass media messages and communication technologies. It takes an integrative approach to international communication by examining both the human and technological dimensions of global information. In addition to reviewing the works undertaken by communication researchers, it draws considerably on the studies conducted in such areas as economics, political science, sociology, cultural anthropology, and international relations. It is my hope that this enlarged vision will stimulate research in the less conventional areas of international studies and will encourage integration of the diverse aspects of the study of global information flow.

    The purpose of the revised edition is to present major areas of international communication in its broadest sense and to explore the vast territories of global information. The revolution in communication and transportation technologies has altered how government, citizens, business, and industry must perform in an international environment. Today international communications is not merely concerned with state actors or transnational corporations. Individual and group flows across national boundaries are equally relevant, especially since the activities involving transborder human flow has grown exponentially since World War II.

    Besides the intrinsic growth of international communication as a field of study, drastic world events have also affected its organizational, educational, and practical issues. During the last decade since the publication of the first edition of this volume, we have witnessed the continual upheaval of world politics. Events including the end of the Cold War bi-polar system, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allied regimes in Eastern Europe, the impact of ethnicity in many parts of the world, and the revival of Islamic movements elsewhere have all challenged basic assumptions and theories of international relations.

    For these reasons, it has become necessary to recast the substance and forms of a number of chapters for this edition. In preparing this edition, I have taken into account the many suggestions from teachers and students who have used the book and were kind enough to write to me about its shortcomings and its strengths. Although the same issues and themes are addressed, the sequence of chapters has changed. Additionally, the revised edition is considerably larger than the original. As every teacher of international communication knows from extensive experience in the classroom, it is challenging to begin to formulate such a course. The word “communication” has no universal and unique meaning in its everyday usage. It varies from culture to culture and is defined and perceived differently based on the individuals’ experience and understanding of it. The order in which the chapters are arranged is not binding for instructors or general readers, nor does it reflect the priority of issues. Through my own teaching experience, I have found this order to possess special merits, but, like most teachers of international communication, I frequently vary the sequence. The way this book is used as a text will undoubtedly depend on the standards and background of the students.

    In short, the continual acceptance and generous reception accorded to the previous four hardcover reprints of this book have encouraged publication of this newly revised edition. The first edition of this book presented an integrated notion of international communication and a new conceptualization of power, thus providing readers with important tools for thinking about issues such as consolidation and mergers in world communication systems, the erosion of state power and national sovereignty. Today, the problems of development and participation, the questions of cultural identity, and the scores of other subjects related to the myths and realities of the “information revolution” have moved to the top of the global agenda. The book anticipated the collapse of the Soviet system and the many political and social debates currently facing Western industrialized nations. Moreover, cutting-edge issues, ranging from the emerging superhighways to human rights, that now resound in a rapidly changing international environment were raised in this volume more than a decade ago.

    In the closing decades of the twentieth century the cultural dimensions of world politics have reached their greatest prominence. It now seems more imperative than ever to discuss global issues, not only in explicit economic, geopolitical, and military terms, but equally in the context of cultural communication and information struggle. This revised edition is a step in that direction.

    Segments of the following articles have been incorporated in this new edition with the kind permission of the publishers: Hamid Mowlana and Ginger Smith, “Trends in Telecommunications and the Tourism Industry: Coalition, Regionalism, and International Welfare Systems,” in J.R. Brent Ritchie and Donald E. Hawkins, Frank Go, Douglas Frechtling, eds, World Travel and Tourism Review: Indicators, Trends and Issues, Vol. 2, (New York: C.A.B. International, 1992), pp. 163–67; Hamid Mowlana, “The Communications Paradox,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 51: 4 (July/August 1995), pp. 40–46; Hamid Mowlana and Ginger Smith, “Tourism in a Global Context: The Case of Frequent Traveler Programs,” Journal of Travel Research, Winter 1993, pp. 20–27.

    This space does not permit a description of the help and advice that I received from my many friends and colleagues who looked over and commented on this book throughout the last decade. My greatest debt, however, goes to my graduate assistants Kathleen Lewis-Workman, who kept a close hand on this project from its beginning, and Caroline Hayashi – together they made important and valuable contributions without which this edition would not have been feasible.

    I would like to thank my production editor at Sage Publications, Pascale Carrington, and my copy editor, Justin Dyer, for their fine work. Additional thanks go to Sophie Craze for her encouragement and to Amitabh Dabla and Stefanie Leighton for their helpful assistance during the last stages of this project.

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