What You Need to Know About : Flow and Contra -Flow

The concepts of flow and contra-flow have their origins in discourses about the free expression and flow of ideas. These were prevalent in the era after World War II, when U.S. foreign policy goals incorporated the concept of free flow of information. There was growing suspicion in developing world countries from the 1960s and 1970s that the concept so eagerly promoted by the United States, Britain, and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was a form of cultural imperialism supporting the expansion of Western media and benefiting Western advertisers through the export of a Western way of life. Some critics preferred the term free flow doctrine, highlighting the ideological function of free flow discourse. Criticism grew less sharp in the 1990s and 2000s with the end of the Cold War, rapid development of larger developing countries such as China and India, and evidence of media vitality within many developing countries. Media export activity from developing countries to regional and global markets has been an especially noteworthy factor in mitigating criticism; Oliver Boyd-Barrett and Daya Thussu coined the term contra-flow to apply to this phenomenon (specifically, in relation to news agencies that gathered news from, about, or for the developing world). Many scholars continued using the metaphor of flow, while that of network also became popular. Attracting broader attention than flow and contra-flow, by the 1990s, were phenomena of globalization; the relationship of media to global, regional, and local identity formation; and implications for the modes and quality of expression everywhere. The discourse of globalization inspired a variety of terms to capture the complexity of transcultural media influences, such as glocalization and hybridity.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.654

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Edwina Ayu Kustiawan