The Media: The Neglected Discourse, Vol. 5 - 1998, No. 1
French communication and media research has been considerably developed during the last two decades. Its development is characterised by multidisciplinary approaches and often original directions. This particularly holds true for research into the genesis of communication as a social and political phenomenon, and the formation of social uses of mass media. Specific to French research is also the attention paid to controversies between intellectuals, politicians and the journalistic ‚lites. Finally, communication is also the domain where historians and sociologists of the public sphere encounter philosophers interested in the problem of collective action.
The article presents a normative framework for understanding communication, in its most general sense, in the Arab-Islamic traditions. The proposed framework draws on the notion of "world view" as a defining concept of communication in different cultures. It notes that an Arab-Islamic world view derives from secular as well as religious themes like dignity, honour, paternalism, faith, worship, knowledge and community. It is also suggested that the Arabic conception of communication would perhaps be grasped better in the context of the following dichotomous themes: individualism--conformity, transcendentalism--existentialism, rationality--intuition, and egalitarianism--hierarchy. In the second part, the author reviews general trends in Arab communication research during the early period (1950 to 1985) and during the past decade. The introduction of mass media studies into Arab was marked by strong Western (especially American) influences in content formats, media usages, and perceptions of communication effects. Published works on Arab communication may be classified into six subject categories: propaganda, development communication, historical accounts, international news flow, technical and professional works and general theoretical works. The latter have failed to generate solid theoretical frameworks powerful enough to account for the varying realities of modern Arab communications. The article also reviews selected recent books either written originally in Arabic or translated into Arabic and finds out that although translated works represent some of the best contributions in modern Western communication scholarship, they seem to hold little relevance for Arab societies. Books published in Arab, on the other hand, seem to dwell much on the descriptive side of analysis with little theoretical contributions. Their best theoretical outputs may be represented by macroscopic typologies of media systems that continue to draw heavily on western dependency perspectives.
Scientific research in mass communication began in Japan through interpreting and reexamining the theories and hypotheses developed during 1940s and 1950s in the United States and Europe. A major part of research has been carried out by universities and research institutes established by media associations. The Japanese Society for the Study of Journalism and Mass Communication, the nation's largest academic association for mass communication research, now has more than one thousand members including journalists and mass communication rsearchers and scholars. The resarch interest is widely dispersed today and articles and books appearing every year covers a wide range of issues. Although most of them are published in Japanese, there are some published in English presenting unique research orientations.
Focusing mainly on contributions made in Taiwan and China during the past decade, this review constructs their respective features. While China through her collective work provides Chinese readers relatively rich literature in media histories across advanced capitalist societies with critical edge, she is weak in supplying critic discourses with regards to her own changing media political economies. In comparison, Taiwan is quite the opposite. Her reception of western media history is short of a class perspective, while her recent work records and radically comments the island's contemporary media politics of national identity, intellectual intervention, and American-imperialism etc.. Also included in is a snap of some liberal English and Chinese writings analyzing Chinese media systems and communication practices in transition.
The article summarises a project carried out between 1986 and 1995 by the International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR) through its Professional Education Section. Bibliographic surveys of commonly used textbooks in institutions of communication education were carried out in Africa, the Arab world, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to discover the regional relevance and topicality of educational materials used particularly in the training of journalists. Regional bibliographies were also examined by experts from other regions regarding the interest for translations across regions. The results show that textbooks used in the Arab world and Latin America are mostly produced in the region, whereas Third World regions with Anglophone and Francophone orientation are dominated by literature from Europe and North America, first and foremost the USA. There is a striking lack of knowledge about textbooks available in other regions, with a great interest particularly to translate theoretically oriented works.