1. INTRODUCTION The history of international communication and cultural interchange is as old as human civilization (Kamalipour, 2002:viii).

Cultural exchange forms a complex part of human communication phemnomena that has had, and continues to have, a large degree of influence on the way in which humans create, interpret, and gain understanding from social interaction. Recent technological developments have allowed cultures from previously isolated regions to forge relationships and exchange knowledge obtained through generations of collective wisdom and heritage. However as a result of these new technologies, the term 'globalisation' has surfaced that encapsulates the bringing together of cultures and countries and the subsequent exchange of information and new experiences. This globalisation phenomena has not, however, been accepted with open arms by all, many countries feel that the strongest countries (e.g. USA, England, etc.) control the information flow through which culture is acknowledged and embraced. This had lead to minority groups (e.g. Hip-Hop culture, many African tribes, etc) reinstating their identity in an otherwise mono-cultured global identity. This essay will examine the history of the western transformation as it has liberated itself from powerful repressive ideologies, as well as discuss the notion of identity as it relates to Hip-Hop culture as a global minority that is increasingly been popularised through media imperialism and persuasive symbolic structuring.

2. THE WESTERN TRANSFORMATION: REPRESSION AND LIBERATION The shift from pre-modernity to modernity has reflected humankinds desire to challenge and transcend their present condition in an attempt to create a collective and cohesive existence while still possessing a sense of individuality and uniqueness. From the religious revolution to contemporary issues of ontology and identity, western societies have continually questioned, challenged and reformed cultural practices, political structures, economic methodologies and industrial infrastructures that reflects the dynamic nature that is the human condition. 2.1. Early Modernity During the 16th century society was exposed to the churches abuse of mythology and superstition and fraudulent acts amongst religious figures (Burger, 2006:8), this resulted in a change of worship and people started to question their unchallenged ideas of destiny, the

1

supernatural, and mans relationship and position in the world. During this time members of society obtain knowledge through the unscientific method of authority, whereby they "relied on information or answers from many expert (religious leaders) in the subject area (meaning of life)" (Gravetter & Forzano, 2006:8). However, religious texts where made available to all when Gutenberg invented the printing press around the late 1400's. Suddenly society had the means to interpret text for themselves and they began to believe that information should be documented and built upon (Kamalipour, 2002:13), this lead to the idea of Empiricalism and scientific understandings. Science was the premise for many inventions during the 17th century and societies began to obtain and record vast amounts of knowledge and information from distant lands as well as their own. Some of these revolutionary discoveries include Newton's law of gravitation; Copernicus' findings that the earth is round and the realisation of Galileo that the earth does not revolve around the sun. Subsequently, there was the new belief and trust in knowledge and how knowledge derived from the scientific methods; this was the beginning of western enlightenment. As knowledge becomes more accessible and religions structures underwent demythologization, people began to question other areas of the existence, namely the medieval notion of "common wealth". Members of society began to discover individual wealth, which lead to the new concept of competition; this was the birth of capitalism (Burger, 2006:9). As capitalism grew, powerful nations like Britain began to colonise specific countries in order to minimise the production cost of manufacturing goods, Britain’s powerful military might led to a euro-centric monoploar world trade system guided by a newly created money economy. 2.2. The Human Liberation and the Industrial Revolution This period is primarily marked by the French and Industrial revolutions and reflects man's "addiction" to individuality and freedom. Humanity aspired to live in an individualistic free society, which involved minimizing structures of overrule and maximizing variety of choice (Wallerstein, 1999:26). The French revolution marked the destruction of aristocratic rule and the secularisation of the church, this strengthened humanity's quest for individual rights and freedom resulting from democratic thought (Burger, 2006:16). Braudel (as quoted by Burger 1999: 16) identifies the four industrial achviements that resulted in humanities mass urbanisation and mass production and

2

distribution, these include the internal combustion engine, steam, electricity and nuclear energy. However, these achviements in human rights and industrial production had an adverse affect on humanities identity and cause further demythologization, paradoxically causing humanity to slowly return to a hierarchical structure and the subtle return of tribalism. 2.3. Post-Modernity (1960 - 2006) Contemporary societies is identified by the term "global village", Gozzi (1996) describes this as a metaphor that "{global village}...speaks to a deep need in alienated industrial-urban society. It addresses a longing for connectedness and community". Athony Giddon (as quoted by Fourie, 2004:595) suggests that humanities transformation is a result of progressive social changes in the universal concepts of time and space, both of which are becoming increasingly irrelevant in order for society to maintain its transnational commercial practices. Communication technology plays a central role in maintaining and contracting barriers of time and space between nations through which transnational organisations engage in international trade. According to Sproull & Kiesler (as cited by Saunderson & De Wet, 2005:107), Dynamic social communication networks emerge due to communication technology and that global network organisations are impossible to create without sophisticated communication and infrastructure. Western societies have struggled for freedom for over five hundred years and during that time freedom has been won and lost. Communication technology has contributed to a mass transference of information to and from remote global locations and as a result we are now, more than ever, aware of what is happening around the world and international organisation now dominate the global information flow. This exposure has left developing countries feeling exploited and under a cultural 'invasion' due to their lack of economic stature. This has resulted in a return to tribalism amongst many nations in order to protect their cultural identity from becoming lost in the new world order that is rapidly producing a cosmopolitan society that is navigated by the economic powers of the world. A new world information order is now needed in order to ensure that the freedom that was originally sort after is rediscovered and embraced. 3. GLOBALISATION AND IDENTITY Since the euro-centric imperialism during the 14th and 15th, mankind has continually explored and utilised the resources and locations of distance cultures and societies (Kamalipour, 2002:38).

3

After WWII America imposed itself as the new world economic power and since then it has remained the global hub of electronic information and the distribution thereof. With new communication technologies man has been able to transcend time and space, and as a result the term globalisation has arisen (Giddens in Fourie, 2002:595). 3.1. GLOBALISATION AND THE MODERN WORLD Globalisation is a human phenomena that has come about due to the perceived closeness that has resulted from new and innovative communication technologies (e.g. e-mail, internet, etc.). This movement from realistic societies to a more collective and cohesive global community is describe/defined by Giddens as " a social process involving a growing number of people all over the world whose lives are affected on a daily bases by disembodied organisation." (Gidden in Fourie, 2002:595). By disembodied organisations Gidden refers to transnational companies that are constantly expanding through vertical and horizontal integration in order to increase their hegemony in the global market place. This expansion is a direct result of capitalistic economic orientation that is spearheaded by media-imperialism localised in the USA. The implications of globalisation are far reaching and concerning, issues of culture and individual identity have arisen as a result of the creation of a consumer society that has become enslaved by capitalist structures (Hartley, 2004:137). People now more than ever are looking towards brands as a means of creating a pseudo-sense of self through the consumption of forever expanding global brands (e.g. Nike, MacDonald’s, Microsoft, etc.). However, as noted by Gidden (on Fourie, 2002: 602) this newly created cosmopolitan society is at the same time bring about a revival of lost cultural identities as societies are now attempting to rediscover and define there sense of self in response to a world that slowly creating a vacuum of consumer identities. Given the amount of control the United States has over the global information flow, it is seemingly becoming more and more critical to impose a NWIO (New World Information Order) that would decentralise America as the information headquarters of the world. 3.2. IDENTITY FORMATION AND RECONSTRUCTION As a result of continual globalisation societies across the world are having to reconstruct and clearly define themselves within the culture in which they live. Culture defines what it means to be human (Kamalipour, 2002:207) and with culture comes identity and understanding. During the

4

pre-modernity era societies where isolated from foreign influence and traditions, however since the inception of information technologies, such as the Internet, cultures and sub-cultures around the world have access (be it be choice or force) to endless amounts of knowledge of other cultures and ideologies. These cultures have collectively 'archived' their believes and traditions over great periods of time, but now the process by which culture mythology is being transferred has shifted from oral practices to electronic records and archives. In order for identity construction to develop, a young infant must be able to internalised the symbolic interaction that conveys meaning in it's reality (Shaffer, 2002:232) This understanding of symbolic communication results in a conscious comparison between different symbols and the individuals who use them, in other words the degree to which we create our own identity is a directly proportionate to the degree of identification we have with others. In this vein one can come to understand how, through information technology and transnational communication, identity ambiguity can manifest itself as a result of the increased exposure humans have which each other in today's world. Hence the notion of globalisation deals with not only economic and political issues, but also with the individual as a unique entity that contributes towards the continual usage and understanding of the international symbolic systems and the context in which they are used and understood. 4. MINORITY CASE STUDY: HIP-HOP AS A GLOBAL MINORITY AND ITS CULTURAL VARIANTS Hip-Hop is currently used to describe a form of expression that encompasses many forms of symbolic representation and urban lifestyle. It originated in the United States of American as a direct result of poverty and overt prejudice that was directed at black African-American's in urban dwellings, however Hip-Hop has now transcended its origins from the Bronx of New York and has become a international form of expression that appears to be contradictory to the original reasons of its creation. Hip-Hop makes use of artistic expression (be it through music, dance, rap, street art, etc.) as a means of seeking refuge from a society that seemingly ignores the issues and beliefs of this minority group. Hip-Hop makes use of a wide variety of symbol that have been adapted and moulded to represent the global struggle for recognition and, to a certain degree, societal deviance. Contradictory to this initial motivation of Hip-Hop, it has become a victim of western capitalistic

5

orientation. As previously mentioned Hip-Hop originated in the US, and with America now firmly place as the head quarters of electronic information Hip-Hop has had the means to make its ideologies know through media imperialism the US maintains. However, although Hip-Hop has been embraced by a large variety of global nations (e.g. South Africa, Germany, Sweden, and even Israel), each group has been able to use their own linguistically structures and language to reform and revise the Hip-Hop culture into a new and more culturally specific form of identity. For example, many German individuals have taken the basic parameters of Hip-Hop music (i.e. the style, structure, etc.) and used their own language (German) to create a identity that is unique to Germany but at the same time avoids alienating their version from the rest of the world. This 'middle-of-the-road' approach is the foundation of an international identity that allows for it variants to be embraced in isolation, while at the same time promoting a collective understanding of what is means to adopt a culture that opposes mass conformity. When Hip-Hop first surfaced, it represented poverty and social suffering, it has now become a culture marked by expensive jewels, flashy cars, designer clothes, and seductive women. In rural South-Africa many black South-Africans are experiencing the same frustration that was once felt in the Bronx, the difference being that poverty and social deprivation is still a serious issue and Hip-Hop as a means of expression has follow the original paradigms whilst at the same time recreating its symbolic system in order to be more localised in the S.A. context. It is in this vein that many countries around world adopt Hip-Hop as a means of presenting and reflecting these groups dissatisfaction with the mainstream culture (be it politically, economically, socially or otherwise). 5. CONCLUSION The process by which culture is being transmitted, understood, reconstructed and adopted is largely due to the degree of influence communication technology has on global identity and the express thereof. The degree to which images, information, and visual messages affect the individuals identity development has been criticised as its control is not equally felt, in other words the degree to which a nations culture is transmitted is directly proportionate to the level of economic international power that country possess. This is leaving many minority groups overtly expressing there identity in order to distinguish themselves from a increasingly pseudo-identity that is globally constructed, however through this culture transmission many minorities are losing their impact as a unique way of life due to continual international exposure. Paradoxically, the

6

way in which minority groups, such as Hip-Hop culture, adopt these forms of culture of expression is largely affected by the culture and linguistically structures that already exist within a country. In order words the degree to which culture minorities effect the international community is not absolute and with out deviation, the symbolic nature and core meanings of any given minority is fluid and can be subjected to reinterpretation and restructuring. It is in this vein that additive identity creation can occur that allows selective usage of minority cultures, while at the same time remaining true to the geographical location of that group. Thus, globalisation and culture transmission is a dynamic conglomeration that is not as universal, at least not at present, as many theorists has suggested. Hence minority identities can recreate their sense of self by incorporating their own symbolic systems, language, and heritage into an otherwise overly dominating global identity.

7

6. SOURCE LIST COTTERAL, A. 2002. European mythology. ( In The encyclopaedia of world mythology, 54-132.) BURGER, M. 2006. Lecturer notes. Socio-historic overview. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg. FOURIE, P. 2004. Media studies vol. 1: institutions, theories and issues. Lansdowne: Juta. 638 p. GOZZI, R, Jr. 1996. Will the media create a global village?. ETC.: A review of general semantics, 53(1): 65(4). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. University of Johannesburg. Date of access: 19 Aug. 2006. GRAVETTER, F.J. & FORZANO, LB. 2006. Research methods for the behavioural sciences. 2nd Ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth. 534 p. HARTLEY, J. 2005. The 'Value chain of meaning' and the new economy. International journal of cultural studies 7(1): 129-141 KAMALIPOUR, Y.R. 2002. Global communication. Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning. 288 p. LIITTLEJOHN, S.W. 2002. Theories of human communication. 7th Ed. Belmount: Thomson Wadsworth. 378 p. WALLERSTEIN, I. 2000. From sociology to historical social science: prospects and obstacles. British Journal of Sociology 51(1): 25-35, January.http://www.transformationaties.org/bibliotheek/wallerstein.pdf Date of access: 19 Aug. 2006.

8