Before going more into detail concerning the influence of media on cultural identity I’d like to specify the area where (individual) human rights and cultural values are said to clash. This is where all the discussion on universality and relativism takes place and this is the area I’d like to contribute to.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – the most popular declaration of human rights – inherits the above-named problem: Individual rights (e.g. the freedom to change one’s religion, Article 18 UDHR) can clash with cultural rights (e.g. the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, Article 27 UDHR).
The basic assumption underlying the idea of cultural relativism is that human values vary depending on different cultural perspectives. But don’t they also depend on factors like time, the subject of research and the type of society?
This boils down to some basic questions:
- Do cultural values really clash with values declared in the UDHR or is it the political elite in some countries, trying to make us believe that these values clash?
- Shall the UDHR be understood as a fixed set of values that will not change over time?
- And consequently: Shall cultural values be understood as fixed?
- Is the smallest social unit an individuum or a group?
I’ll have to answer these questions to be able to contribute to the discussion about relativism and universalism from a digital perspective.
Veröffentlicht unter Human Rights, relativism
A coalition of civil society organisations declared 13 benchmarks for States’ human rights obligations in light of new technologies and surveillance capabilities. They tackle issues like the legality, necessity, adequacy and transparency of any limitation to the right to privacy.
Read all the 13 principles at Necessary & Proportionate.
Are global communications endangering cultural diversity?
This is the question Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart are addressing in their book Cosmopolitan Communication. Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World.
And this question is also crucial for my research. Is the Internet as the most common media for global communications endangering cultural diversity? Or is it only changing some aspects of culture relatad to human rights?
Norris and Inglehart distinguish three types of possible effects usually referred to:
- L.A.-Effect: Convergence of national cultures around Western values: homogenity
- Taliban Effect: Polarization of national cultures: diversification
- Bangalore Effect: Fusion of national cutlures: fusion
In the next step, they set up their own theory, called the „firewall model“. According to Norris and Ingelhart, there are a number of firewalls that prevent cultural dominance by the west- but the individual use of news media can still have a direct effect on individual values. Specifically, it can lead to more trust in outsiders (with different culturual background) and is related to weaker feelings of nationalism.
For my reasearch, I’ll have to answer further questions: It remains to be seen if the individual use of news media is also leading to a different perception of the image of women or cultural practices conflicting with human rights. And another question still to answer is, if „the news media“ is synonymous with „the Internet“, respectively Social Media?
The Arab spring, the Brazilian uprising or the Turkish protests at Taksim square – all over the world people stand up for their rights. In these movements, the Internet is playing a crucial role and there are huge debates on how the Internet (Social Media) enabled the oppressed people all over the world to fight for their rights – Terms like “Twitter-” or “Facebook-Revolution” occurred.
But talking about the use of the Internet in Revolutions is actually taking the second step before the first. The protestors did not only use the Internet to prepare the revolution and foster change – it is most likely that the Internet which makes a new form of communication possible also played a crucial role preliminary to the actual revolution in spreading universal values such as human rights.
In the debate about the universalism of human rights, the main counterargument against universalism is based on the fact that different cultural backgrounds lead to a different understanding of human rights. In turn, one could argue that transcultural communication leads to the emergence of universal values less dependent on the cultural background.
I’ll deepen my knowledge on transcultural communication and the Internet as a medium used for it.
I’m glad you found your way to my blog!
Veröffentlicht unter Human Rights