Nowadays, at the information age, modern societies (specially since the Iron Curtain was torn down) have to cope with some new emerged factors that may have a remarkable impact upon people’s imaginary and self-representation: mass migration movements, the internet and the mass media dissemination. As a consequence of the disappearance of the Soviet Union that divided the world in two distinguishable blocks, the flow of images and people who sweep through the world has dramatically increased and been enhanced by liberal market policies.
The traditional flow of migration was mostly made up of refugees, people who scape because of political persecution or because of extreme poverty. Hence it was not difficult for governments of host societies to preserve the so-called National Identity because small groups of migrants that arrived did not represent a menace not being able to join the political action. Furthermore, the public TV and the cultural market was regulated by different protectionist policies that european governments applied.
On the other hand, since the fall of the iron curtain and without the threat of communism, the flow of both images and people has dramatically increased in Europe and liberal democracies started to apply liberal market policies such as the deregulation of the public TV regardless of its consequences. This has led to the globalization of the cultural market and the establishment of a global oligarchy within it because small companies are swallowed by bigger ones. Hence modern nations have fear of the cultural homogenization because of the colonization of that market.
In modern societies people have access to internet and many other media technologies that provide society with a wide range of cultural patterns, references and traits that the individual can decide to incorporate to his or her personality. Hence it is very common seeing Rastafari people, Rappers and even Gothic Lolitas in any european city. Why is it that a person who has not already been in a certain country can decide to adopt some of its cultural traits in his or her personality?
Max Weber‘s definition of an ethnic group can give off some light over the question above:
“ethnic groups are those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or of both, or because of memories of colonization or migration”
This definition emphasizes the importance of the subjective aspects in our sense of belonging and of kinship. It also suggest that the way people develop mental affinity towards others is a subjective mental process where objective traits account for little. If the ethnic identity can lead to transnational identities, then the internet can be the meeting point of all these diasporic groups. Identity appears to be psychologically and not socially constructed.
It would not be odd to say that using internet provides migrants with very useful information that can make easier their arrival at their host society. Nonetheless modern states also make propaganda of themselves through the internet and films and this may lead immigrants to have an idealized concept of welfare state. They may migrate from their place of origin in search of good job conditions and once they arrive they may find that they even do not have the right to work, or the right to take part in that benevolent democracy.
- Ethnic group. (2010, December 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:01, December 8, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ethnic_group&oldid=401213931
- The Journal of International Relations, (Vol.8, No.1, 20, 2010). retrieved, December 8, 2010, from the article: Stateless Diaspora Groups and their repertoirs of nationalist activism in host countries. By Bahar Baser. Website: http://eui.academia.edu/BaharBaser/Papers/313427/_Stateless_Diaspora_Groups_and_Their_Repertoirs_of_Nationalist_Activism_in_Host_Countries.
- Liberal disappointment. By David Dayen. Published on 8, December, 2010. retrieved 10, December 2010 from the Website: http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/12/06/liberal-disappointment-a-question-of-bad-poker-or-bad-policy/