How the New World Order and Imperialism Challenge Media Studies

  • Kaarle Nordenstreng University of Tampere
Keywords: New World Information and Communication Order, International communication, History of communication research, Critical school, new imperialism


This article first reviews the notion of the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) and lessons that can be learned from it. It then discusses how to best conceptualize a) imperialism and b) media and cultural imperialism today, mainly based on the works of Christian Fuchs. The paper takes issue with Colin Sparks’ article “Media and Cultural Imperialism Reconsidered”, published in the Chinese Journal of Communication in 2012. Both Sparks and Fuchs argue that we have to reconsider the concept of cultural and media imperialism, but they do it in fundamentally different ways. The article exposes the problems of a revisionist approach, as taken by Sparks, but it also advocates a radical approach that is analytical and reflective rather than straightforward and action-oriented.

Author Biography

Kaarle Nordenstreng, University of Tampere

Kaarle Nordenstreng (born 1941) is Professor Emeritus at the University of Tampere, Finland. He studied psychology at the University of Helsinki with PhD in 1969. After working as radio journalist and head of research in the Finnish Broadcasting Company he started as Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1971. He has served in several Finnish committees on higher education, the latest on university degree reform (2003-07) with him as the coordinator of social sciences. Internationally, he has been member of the UNESCO panel on communication research (1971-76) and contributor to the MacBride commission (1977-80). He has been Vice-President of International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR 1972-88) and President of International Organization of Journalists (IOJ 1976-90). More on Curriculum vitae at

Nordenstreng’s publications include over 40 books, (co-)authored or edited, the latest one Normative Theories of the Media: Journalism in Democratic Societies with Christians, Glasser, McQuail and White (University of Illinois Press 2009). Journal articles and book chapters include over 400 titles, beginning with ‘Communication Research in the United States: A Critical Perspective’ in Gazette 3/1968. More on publications at