The Taming of the Electronic Shrew: Localizing the Global Spread of Television

Sam Pack


A common assumption maintains that the global outreach of mass media inevitably leads to deleterious consequences for native communities. Indeed, different scholars have argued that awareness of the outside world from television results in the homogenization of local cultures. However, images viewed through the electronic peephole radically transform not only an understanding of the outside world, but the way indigenes define themselves and their relationship to each other. By presenting subaltern audiences with an idealized other, television compels the emergence of an objectified self. “Who are ‘we’?” would not have been asked—or asked in the same way—were it not for the “Who are ‘they’?” necessitated by the introduction of television. Paradoxically, contrary to most fears, television actually helps to create rather than destroy a cultural identity by forcing subaltern viewers to re-define themselves in a dialogical relationship to the dominant society.


Globalism; Identity; Localism; Subaltern; Television

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