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The Rise of the Global Leisure/Cultural Industries Essay Sample

The Rise of the Global Leisure/Cultural Industries Pages
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Introduction
The term ‘globalization’ is widely used to describe a variety of economic, cultural, social, and political changes that have changed the world over the past 50 years (Guttal, 2010). Globalization can be conceived as time-space compression, accelerating interconnectedness, and action at a distance (Kim, 2005). Globalization thus suggests the expanding scale, speeding up and deepening impact of flows and patterns of social interaction (Held and McGrew in Kim, 2005). The field of leisure studies has been urged, like all others, to engage with globalization. Globalization is the subject of analyses of specific forms of leisure, such as tourism (Wahab & Cooper, 2001), media (Kheeshadeh, 2012; Jan, 2009), and culture (Hochschild, 1998). Hesmondhalagh (2007) states that the internationalisation of the cultural industries over the last 30 years has been driven by the need to find new markets for labour and for their products. He concludes that culture, society and business are becoming more intertwined than ever, and therefore talks about the ‘cultural industries’.

In addition, Mommaas (2008) talks about the coming into being of a highly dynamic ‘leisure industries’, where a much more horizontal and inclusive perspective dominates the leisure field. He states that content of the leisure market is produced by public and private organisations, which try to find their niche in an increasingly inter-related and thus competitive global/local leisure market. Globalization thus entailed the integration of the different leisure/cultural sectors into a global leisure/cultural industries. But what lies at the bottom of the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries? And what are the main organisational consequences? Therefore, the main question of this paper is: What underlies the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries, and what are the main organisational consequences of the rise of these global leisure/cultural industries?

By reflecting on the social, economic and cultural tensions involved on the basis of various theoretical perspectives, the aim of this study is to understand what lies at the bottom of the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries, and to explain its organisational consequences. Castells’ notion of the ‘informational’ society will be used to explore the underlying factors to the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries, after which various theoretical perspectives on the space of flows will be reviewed to get a deeper understanding of what the main organisational consequences are of this rise of the global leisure/cultural industries. At last, a conclusion will be drawn based on the theoretical overview. The ‘informational’ society

The ‘informational’ society contains two central elements, namely the network society, and the culture of real virtuality. Before entering into a discussion concerning these two elements, it is necessary to go back to the core of the ‘informational’ society, that is the digitalisation or ‘informatisation’ of the economy. According to Castells (2000) a new economy emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century on a worldwide scale, which he calls ‘informational’, ‘global’, and ‘networked’: “It is informational because the productivity and competitiveness of units or agents in this economy fundamentally depend upon their capacity to generate, process, and apply efficiently knowledge-based information. It is global because the core activities of production, consumption, and circulation, as well as their components are organized on a global scale, either directly or through a network of linkages between economic agents.

It is networked because, under the new historical conditions, productivity is generated through and competition is played out in a global network of interaction between business networks.” (Castells, 2000: p. 77) The information technology revolution at the end of the twentieth century provided the material basis for the development of this new economy. According to Urray (2003) new technologies are producing ‘global times’ in which the dimensions of time and space between people and places are compressed. Castells (2000) views information and communication technologies as the basis of the new informational paradigm. The huge communication power of the Internet and new developments in telecommunications and computing caused a technological revolution, which compresses the time needed to communicate and travel across large distances.

Also Hesmondhalagh (2007) acknowledges the importance of technological developments as a driving factor for the rise of the ‘cultural industries’, though he states that its role is overemphasised. He poses a number of questions. What caused these technologies to be introduced the way they were? How did they take the particular form they did? Hesmondhalagh (2007) indicates that also economic and cultural driving forces provide contexts for change. Various researches have indicated that technological progress results from the profit-maximizing behaviour of entrepreneurs (Grossman and Helpman, 1989; Romer, 1990). Nelson (in Castells, 2000; Nelson, 1994, 1998) states that profitability and competitiveness are the actual determinants of technological innovation, and enable productivity growth. The search for profitability and nations’ mobilization toward competitiveness then created, and shaped, a global economy. Neuman (in Hesmondhalagh (2007) has drawn attention to the charge of ‘cultural determinism’, in which culture is given a determining role in the rise of rise of a global cultural industries.

Culture, represented in film, television and music, took on ever greater social and political significance. Once again, Hesmondhalagh (2007) suggests that also economic and cultural factors are given too much weight at the expense of others. Although business, technology and culture are determinants in the rise of a new, global economy, they could not have developed the global economy on its own. Hesmondhalagh (2007) states that political changes provide important contexts for understanding the rise of the global cultural industries. Within a general shift towards neo-liberalism in government policy, there was a specific set of policy shifts that had a big impact on the cultural industries and their status within contemporary societies. According to Castells (2000) the paramount agents in the rise of a global economy are governments. Three interrelated policies created the foundations for globalization: deregulation of domestic economic activity, liberalization of international trade and investment, and privatization of publicly controlled companies (Castells, 2000). The space of flows

Political, cultural, economic, and technological developments have enabled the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries. Consequently, the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries has led to a changing status of a broader field of culture and consumption. For the UK for example, Martin and Mason (2011) conclude that in the 1980’s a radical reshaping happened in the provision of leisure facilities. Due to commercialisation, globalisation and informatisation, the leisure market went from a supply orientated market to a more demand or consumer orientated market. In this demand or consumer orientated market businesses are all competing for the attention of the same consumer. According to Mommaas (2008) this common field of operation has been typified in terms of an ‘experience orientation’. That is, people are in conscious search for emotions and imaginations, the triumph of a culture of feeling and emotions. Martin and Mason (2011) for example state that new leisure facilities have put a strong emphasis on modern design and the use of new technology as a basis for interpretation and creating new experiences.

In addition, Pine and Gilmore (1998) observe that consumers desire experiences, and that increasing numbers of organisations are responding by explicitly designing and promoting them. Florida (2002), too, states that experiences are replacing goods and services because they enhance creative capacities. But whereas Pine and Gilmore talk mainly about pre-packaged experiences, Florida states that people prefer more active, authentic and participatory experiences (Pine & Gilmore, 1998; Florida, 2002). In practical everyday terms, this means cycling rather than watching TV; it means travel to interesting locations that engage one physically or intellectually rather than going on a beach holiday; it means the search for unique antique table as opposed to buying just a table. Apart from its various forms, consumers in the new economy desire experiences. This growing importance of ‘experience value’ increases competition, which in its turn resulted in a blurring of boundaries between sectors.

Hesmondhalagh (2007) for example states that cultural industry companies deal with risk and need to ensure their audience is as great as possible by using strategies that are also used in other sectors, such as horizontal integration, vertical integration, and internationalisation. Martin and Mason (2011) relate to a new concept in leisure facilities, the so called ‘leisure village’. Common ingredients of the leisure village are a multiplex cinema, ten-pin bowling centre, ice rink, themed restaurants, nightclubs, fitness centres, bingo club and indoor sports. Whereas these leisure facilities used to be offered in different places, in the leisure village they all come together in one place. The same applies for the organization of these leisure facilities. Whereas leisure used to be organized in different sectors (e.g. arts, sports, media), today there is talk of a much more horizontal, and inclusive field of leisure (Mommaas, 2008). The new ‘informational’ society contains two central elements, namely the network society, and the culture of real virtuality.

The first element relates to the growing importance of networks. Hesmondhalagh (2007) concludes that there are more and more strategic alliances between cultural industry companies and large corporations in other industries. Castells (2000) defines that the new ‘informational’ economy is characterized by the network enterprise, in which information itself has become the product of the production process. As such, a network enterprise is made from firms, segments of firms, or from internal segmentation of firms, in which information itself has become the product of the production process (Castells, 2000). Large businesses are decentralized as networks, small and medium business are connected in networks. Castells (2000) states that the ethical foundation of this network enterprise is a multi-faceted, virtual culture.

New communication systems immerse reality in virtual image setting, but the price is that reality has to be adapted to its logic, languages, etc. Subsequent, locality is dis-embedded from local meaning and re-embedded in global spaces of flow. Castells (2000) defines this space of flows as the material organization of time-sharing social practices that work through flows. Flows can be explained as the expression of processes dominating economic, political and symbolic life. It are “purposeful, repetitive, programmable sequences of exchange and interaction between physically disjointed positions held by social actors in the economic, political and symbolic structures of society” (Castells, 2000 – p. 442). These flows move along various global places, including systems of transportation of people, objects, and information (Urray, 2003). Tensions between space and flow

Castells (2000) states that the coming of the space of flows is blurring the meaningful relationship between architecture and society. In the new economy the abandoning of experience, history and specific culture as the background of meaning is leading to the generalization of ahistorical, acultural architecture (Castells, 2000). People do still live in places. But because function and power are organized in the space of flows, the meaning and dynamic of places gets lost. Landry & Bianchini (2005), too, talk about a diminishing sense of locality, of shared place and identity that make cities less clearly defined as places. They state that society is now increasingly defined on the basis of common interests rather than in geographical terms. However, when looking at different aspects of globalization in more detail, the picture is more complex. Instead of being two separate processes, processes of globalization and localisation are intrinsically linked to each other. Sarvaes & Lie (2010) state that globalisation and localisation are, in fact, one process. The same (inter)cultural domains of origin (e.g. watching international football games, encounters with international tourists, or business contacts within the global economy) can lead to a global interpreting process or a local interpreting process.

Short (2008) comes to the same conclusion when he examining the relationship between the increasing globalization of the Summer Olympics and the effect on host cities. On the one hand, the Summer Olympics are a truly international event watched around the world, which embodies a more globalized world. However on the other hand, the national anthems, the national uniforms, and all the national iconography define the Summer Olympics as an international arena for the celebration of nationalism. A second cluster of problems Landry & Bianchini (2005) mention is division. The places which are the centres of the new global economy are increasingly socially fragmented (Landry & Bianchini, 2005).

Labour markets are divided between highly paid managers, technologists and professionals skilled in transnational law, government and business procedures on the one hand, and employees in less skilled, low paid, low status and of ten part-time service jobs on the other hand. Consequently, society also becomes divided between a highly educated class versus a low educated class; rich versus poor; highly skilled people versus less skilled people; and high status versus low status. Castells (2000) concludes that several major contradictions threaten the stability of the new ‘informational’ economy, under which an increasing social inequality and social exclusion throughout the world, limiting market expansion and triggering social tensions (Castells, 2000). Information technology offers great potential in helping to overcome these contradictions, but it requires the bridging between the space of flows with the space of places.

Conclusion
After reviewing various theories, now an answer can be given to the main question of this research: What underlies the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries, and what are the main organisational consequences of the rise of these global leisure/cultural industries? Various political, cultural, economic, and technological developments have enabled the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries. These global leisure/cultural industries are part of a new ‘informational’ economy. The question is however, what underlies the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries? Firstly, the huge communication power of the Internet and new developments in telecommunications and computing caused a technological revolution, which compressed the time needed to communicate and travel across large distances (Castells, 2000; Hesmondhalagh, 2007; Urray, 2003). Next to that, economic and cultural driving forces provided contexts for change. The search for profitability and nations’ mobilization toward competitiveness created, and shaped, a global economy (Castells, 2000; Hesmondhalagh, 2007; Nelson, 1994, 1998).

Culture, represented in film, television and music, took on ever greater social and political significance (Neuman in Hesmondhalagh, 2007). Lastly, political changes provided important contexts for understanding the rise of the global cultural industries (Castells, 2000; Hesmondhalagh, 2007). Three interrelated policies created the foundations for globalization: deregulation of domestic economic activity, liberalization of international trade and investment, and privatization of publicly controlled companies (Castells, 2000). The main organisational consequences of the rise of the global leisure/cultural industries all relate to a broader field of culture and consumption. These include a more demand orientated market (Martin & Mason, 2011; Mommaas, 2008), a growing importance of ‘expierence’ value (Mommaas, 2008; Pine & Gilmore, 1998; Florida, 2002; Martin & Mason, 2011) and a blurring of bounderies between sectors (Hesmondhalagh, 2007; Mommaas, 2008).

The new ‘informational’ society is characterized by the network society, and the culture of real virtuality. The first element relates to the importance of the network enterprise, where information itself has become the product of the production process (Castells, 2002; Hesmondhalagh, 2007). Castells (2000) states that the ethical foundation of this network enterprise is a multi-faceted, virtual culture. In this virtual culture, locality is dis-embedded from local meaning and re-embedded in global spaces of flow. However, within these global spaces of flow there are tensions between space and flow.

People do still live in places. But because function and power are organized in the space of flows, the meaning and dynamic of places gets lost (Castells, 2000; Landry & Bianchini, 2005). Next to that, places which are the centres of the new global economy are increasingly socially fragmented, which threatens the stability of the new ‘informational’ economy (Landry & Bianchini, 2005; Castells, 2000). Information technology offers great potential in helping to overcome these contradictions, but it requires the bridging between the space of flows with the space of places. Until cultural, political and physical bridges are built between these two forms of space, the sustainability of the new ‘informational’ economy is threatened.

References

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globalisation and culture: issues and trends. Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research. 29 (1-2), 7-23. Short, J.R. (2008) Globalization, cities and the Summer Olympics. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. 12 (3), 321-340. Wahab, S.E.A. & C. Cooper (2001) Tourism in the age of globalisation. London: Routledge.

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