Saturday, 27 July 2013

Globalisation and Ethnoscapes

Globalisation. So, what is it?

Anthony Giddens defines globalisation as 'the intensification of world-wide social relations, which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa' (1990, p. 64).

A very recent example of this can be demonstrated by analysing the huge Australian media coverage devoted to the birth of the child of the Royal Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine.

Reporters of major Australian television networks, such as Channel Nine and Channel Seven, joined dozens, perhaps hundreds, of foreign counterparts camped outside the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was due to give birth. 

The worldwide media snapping photos and capturing footage of the moment
 the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge present their newborn to the public.
(Source: Stuart C. Wilson/Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
After weeks of waiting, once Catherine had given birth to a baby boy, the Australian networks flashed the news across lounge room televisions throughout the nation with almost immediate effect.

Australian broadcasters -- as well as, arguably, its audiences -- were susceptible to the happenings of Catherine's pregnancy, despite the fact it was all occurring thousands of kilometres away on the other side of the world.

But the media is just one of a number of various forms of global flows -- or 'scapes', as alluded to by Arjun Appadurai -- affecting social relations in diverse and distinct locations.

Appadurai termed five such dimensions of global cultural flow: (1) ethnoscapes; (2) mediascapes; (3) technoscapes; (4) finanscapes; and (5) ideoscapes.

The ethnoscape dimension is one that has been particularly influential on the life of my mother-in-law, Lejla, who is a citizen and resident of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Appadurai sees ethnoscapes as:

'...the landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live: tourists, immigrants, refugees, exiles, guestworkers and other moving groups and persons constitute an essential feature of the world and appear to affect the politics of (and between) nations to a hitherto unprecedented degree' (1998, p. 7).

'Stop mass immigration!': Switzerland is one nation that
has sought to restrict the number of foreigners it allows
to reside within its borders. (Source:
Due to the difficulties of obtaining work in Bosnia, where the unemployment rate sits at an estimated 43.3%, Lejla has found it more fruitful to gain occasional employment a few nation-states away in Switzerland, where the rate of unemployment is a mere 2.9%, and the average wage much higher (Central Intelligence Agency 2013a; Central Intelligence Agency 2013b).

However, due to recent political manoeuvring in the Western European state, Lejla may find it difficult to continue working away from home.

In April 2013, Switzerland announced it was planning on restricting European immigration into the nation, by way of limiting the quantity of residency permits it distributes. A mass-influx of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria has apparently played a major role in affecting this decision (Al Jazeera 2013). 

Such action is a glaring example of what Appadurai was referring to when he mentioned the potential effects to nation-state politics that can result from the inward movement of persons from outside its boundaries.

Moreover, this issue doesn't appear to be diminishing any time soon.

If people like my mother-in-law are unable to obtain acceptable employment in their home nations, they will increasingly seek alternative options in other localities. 


Al Jazeera 2013. 'Switzerland restricts EU immigration', 24 April, retrieved 27 July 2013, <>

Appadurai, A 1998. 'Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy', Public Culture, vol. 2, pp. 1-24.

Central Intelligence Agency 2013a, 'The World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina', retrieved 27 July 2013, <>

Central Intelligence Agency 2013b, 'The World Factbook: Switzerland', retrieved 27 July 2013, <>

Giddens, A 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford University Press: Stanford, CT.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rusty,

    First off I think it's great that you went the extra mile with your references and found some additional material, as well as the Rantanen reading. You show just how influential the media can be across cultures with your example of the royal baby, along with stating just how many dimensions of media there are across the world. Your personal example of your mother in law really illuminated the specific changes in both employment and economy across the European Union and how these actions shape our society both locally and globally, creating patterns and cycles that can be incredibly difficult to break. Thanks for the read