Retribalization in the digital age : integration in the "global village."


Marshall McLuhan stated one consequence of the printing press was increased nationalism.  In  Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,  McLuhan asserted the electronic age has conversely retribalized man.  Through retribalization our once divisive world has become a “global village.”  In our current Digital Age electronic media abounds.  To McLuhan, electronic media foster a sense of integration.  Yet to what extent has our contemporary, media-saturated society become truly integrated? The exponential growth of communication technologies has indeed fostered a sense of a global community as individuals from across the world connect and interact.  Cultures once deemed foreign and exotic are now easily accessible through various media.  Mass media, in particular, contribute to our understanding of “otherness.”  Media therefore can be enlightening in increasing our awareness of diverse peoples and perspectives. In recent years more diverse peoples have been featured in the mass media.  However, despite these gains recent studies indicate a lack of representation of women and minorities in the media.  Additionally, the media’s portrayal of “others” can also lead to misguided perceptions and prejudice. A Coca-Cola® television advertisement entitled “It’s Beautiful” that ran during the 2014 Super Bowl perhaps best exemplifies the paradoxical relationship between media and integration.  In the advertisement, diverse peoples sang “America the Beautiful” both in English and other languages.  While some viewers lauded the multicultural efforts of Coca-Cola®, the ad sparked controversy as others were outraged and viewed the ad disdainfully. This presentation will seek to explore the role of electronic media in integration.  Do electronic media present only a façade of integration or are electronic media consequential for assimilation into a global community?  Marshall McLuhan’s own view of integration in the global village will be considered.



New media., Digital media., Globalization., Cultural diversity.