Charles Taylor on globalization, media and “diasporic consciousness”

Queen’s Quarterly, Fall 1998

Globalization also involves the development of world media spaces. The media now reach into all but the most remote societies. They thoroughly permeate these communities, and many media organizations are constantly casting about the globe, collecting their select audiences, those groups of people who are fixed on certain images and programs. Along with this, and not entirely separate from it, there is a world public sphere and the development even of world civil society in term of public opinion. Think of the tremendous importance in our world today of organizations like Amnesty International.

But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of globalization is the tremendous increase in international migration and the consequent diversification of the populations in many countries. A few decades ago a country like Canada had a population -speaking just of religion- that was Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish. Today, every major religion is represented in substantial numbers within the Canadian population. And with this comes the development of another striking phenomenon, something we might call a diasporic consciousness. People now live in imagined spaces, spaces where they see themselves situated within a certain society, and more and more of these space straddle borders and other boundaries. You now have people who are in many ways fully integrated as citizens of their new countries, but at the same time retain active interest and contact with people in their country of origin. Their interest in the politics of one country feeds into their interest in the politics of the other, and they are linked also to their country-of-origin compatriots settled in different nations all over the world.”

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