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From global village to global marketplace: Metaphorical descriptions of the global Internet

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Prevailing analyses of globalisation and the Internet posit global politics as the outcome of the Internet's physical-geographical reach. This reach is assumed to compromise the traditional sources of political power associated with the sovereign state by transgressing its territorial boundaries. The shortcoming of this approach is that it fails to acknowledge the degree to which the state and its sovereignty are discursively constituted as normative principles that legitimate a particular type of political order. Thus, in order to locate the transformative potential of globalisation, attention must be directed to globalisation's discursive dimensions. To do this I focus on two metaphors of globalisation global village and global marketplace. In this paper, I outline how these metaphors constitute and legitimate global political order and the impact this has on the global character of the Internet. I specify how each metaphor shapes what the Internet is, who it is for, what kind of global potential it represents according to its understanding of what constitutes legitimate global political order. The structure of global political order cannot, therefore, be easily derived from the Internet's physical reach. We can still study the Internet as emblematic of globalisation and global politics; however, doing so necessitates exploring how the structure and character of the Internet is tied to, and changes with, the production of new systems of global legitimacy and political order.
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Keywords: Internet; discourse; global politics; globalisation; legitimacy; metaphor

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto, Canada.

Publication date: 2008-01-24

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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