( Dr. Virendra Pal Singh is Reader in Sociology, Assam University, Silchar-788011 (INDIA) and Editor and publisher of an interdisciplinary research journal in Emerging Trends in Development Research since 1994. This paper is originally published in Emerging Trends in Development Research, vol. 14, No. 1&2, pp. 55-57)
In a broad sense the content (messages) of all meaningful communication is information. More narrowly (but still loosely), information refers to verifiable and thus reliable factual data about the ‘real world’. This includes opinions as well as reports about the facts of the world. Even more narrowly and precisely, information may be equated with communicated ‘data’ that do (or can) enable discriminations to be made in some domain of reality and thus ‘reduce uncertainty’ for the receiver (Mc Quail 2000:497). The flow and nature of information varies with the form of society. In a primitive society the information is shared equally with the members of the society by informal ways of communication. The flow of information is very smooth and the information is transmitted through interpersonal communication i.e. through the ‘word of mouth’. There are no specialized institutions and communicators in the process of communication. With the development of society, the nature of communication also undergoes through the process of change and gradually society becomes more differentiated and the specialized institutions perform different functions of society. The form of communication is also changed as it is now mediated through some sort of technology for the group of the people through some technical devices. The access of the people to these devices varies to different sections of the society and thus smoothness in the flow of information is disrupted to a great extent. In modern society, first developed in Europe and then spread over to the rest of the world in the form of nation states, the nature and flow of information is relatively smooth as the traditional and modern mass media are well integrated (Pye 1963). In transitional communication system, however, the flow of information is disrupted due to lack of integration among the traditional and modern media of mass communication. The unequal distribution of the information poses different kind of problems in this type of society. In modern society, modern mass media also change with the pace and level of development and gradually new forms and institutions of communication emerge on the scenario.
The contemporary societies, both the developed and underdeveloped are now passing through the processes of change. Globalization is the central driving force behind the major economic, cultural, social and political changes that are affecting virtually all the world’s people today. Globalization is seen as the overall consequences of closely inter-linked processes of change in the areas of technology, economic activity, governance, communication and so on (Giddens 1999). Developments in all these areas are mutually reinforcing or reflexive, so that no clear distinction can be drawn between cause and effect . A specific set of the the commentators of globalization, called popularly, transformationalists regard contemporary patterns of cross-border flows (of trade, investment, migrants, cultural artifacts, environmental factors, etc.) as without historical precedent. Such flows integrate virtually all countries into a larger global system, and thus bring about major social transformations at all levels (Castles ). Thus, the process of globalization is not confined to economic and political concerns of these societies, its impact can also be felt in the field of mass media communication and other social and cultural institutions of the society.
At the conceptual level, there are three different viewpoints about these changes in the form of society, particularly in the west.