The national identity of Singapore is characterized to the social and moral value system linked with the lifestyle of her people across the period of time. This form of identity is founded on bringing into play the essence of the existence of people. Accordingly, the media sets in to promote the existence and sustenance of this belief amidst challenges of extinction, demise and disintegration. What the media does is to strengthen the fundamental concept of citizenship, belonging, productive initiatives as well as work.
This paper seeks to present an explorative study of the role of media as a significant apparatus in constructing a sense of nationhood or national identity. The media therefore is a tool used by Singapore to promote all cultural, social, historical, moral and religious ideologies embedded in the multiracial representation to speak loudly about her heritage and identity. The Media Digitalization as well as globalization influences how the media makes its contribution to the process of national heritage.
In view of this, Moran (1997: 67-69) asserts that the content of the media as well as the reception of the media are factors that are heavily affected by the digitalization of the media. Arguably, the media counters the impacts of media ownership and media imperialism which is brought about by the commercialization of media. As such, the Singapore media structures its homegrown content in a bid to cater for all tastes an interest.
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This means that all programs that feature in media make it possible for the public to freely explore the beliefs and this happens within the precincts of the media unraveling the society which they operate thereby reminding the viewership about the nature of their culture and identity. All these happen in a package that is critically fashionable. Rather than encourage the sense of shared experiences, values or experiences, the media influences the attitudes as well as the actions of the Singaporean audience.
From this concept, Eddie (2008:21-25) argues that its role advocates for free individualism which champions for permissiveness in making decisions. It is a national value for Singaporean to make decisions without being influenced by the concerns of the society or even the societal preconception. The growth of the national identity is fostered by the media through various tools and mechanisms that are supported through media.
Stone (2000: 46-47) further outlines that these tools and mechanisms of media influence the people of Singapore and their behavior towards creating a Singapore society that is capable of facing certain challenges as well as benefit from the vital foundation behavioral, social and national tools. Accordingly, these mechanisms that are supported by the media through society include religion, family, school and law.
Furthermore, the national identity of Singapore is developed through a consolidation of its segment of media such that it fosters a sense of belonging to the country by spearheading cultural movements, in a bid to sustain cultural heritage. In light of this, the media highlights the national outlook of Singapore by publishing the creativity, belief and expectation of the people of Singapore both at local and international levels. Radio and its programs in Singapore continually reflect the composition the country that is multilingual as well as multiethnic.
For instance, radio Singapore airs its programs in all the four official languages that are composite of the Singaporean population. This includes the Chinese, Malay, Tamil as well as English (Giddens, 2001: 50-62). With regard to this, the media in Singapore is entrusted with the primary responsibility of interpreting all the policies and objectives of the government thereby contributing to the maintenance of a sense of national identity.
Essentially, the media promote the idea that portray a process of unification that blend a network of multi ethnicity and racial diversity evidenced through the interaction of poetic, linguistic, aesthetic as well as cultural difference. The concept of free and independent media is an element that largely contributes to the set of behaviors as well as ideas that are based on a multifaceted conceptualization of the nation.
Selvari (2007: 78-83) points out that ways in which various groups of people in the Singaporean society identify themselves, is strongly influenced by what they watch on television, read in the paper or even listen over the radio. Through this, national identity is addressed in the media as composite of historical, religious as well as cultural aspects. Singapore and National Identity Significantly, Singapore is a multiracial nation and in such an environment, tension is evident.
Chen (2000: 25-27) poses that what cushions this tension is the media that address multiracial issues through entertaining and informative programs. Accordingly, such tension continues to exist between ethnicity, cultural identity, language. Contemporary classification of the population of Singapore into Chinese, Indian, Malay and other groups share characteristics that were ascribed by former colonist and appreciating such diversity promotes a national image.
To achieve this appreciation and multiracial understanding, the media has been on the forefront to preach reconciliation and healing therefore leading to what is today multiethnic and racial tolerance. For example, the racial rioted that marred the country in early 1950s threatened the process of nation building which is very harmonious (Kit-wai Mai, 1999: 131-134). In light of this, the media resolved to disseminate the information concerning the significance of multicultural diversity and how national building can be realized.
It is important to note that the media does not protect the national image as an icon that is monumental but rather, it contributes to national identity by creating an environment where every member of the Singapore society move forward towards a more tolerant, pluralistic and understanding position of the national identity. To illustrate, Erhard (2007: 167-169) asserts that the contribution of the media in Singapore has emphasized on making the larger Singapore population to understand the importance and value of a sense of national identity.
According to scholars, the relationship between the media and national identity should be inspired by the establishment of a framework through which the indoctrination of the national image are added to the society in the most positive way (Birch, 1993: 35-38). In addition, the media has for years used an instrumental model to collect narratives, ideas and myths used by various groups in Singapore to maintain establish cultural image and thus maintain an identity.
To effectively address this question, the media is responsive to the diversified interest of the Singapore society and at the same time mindful of the inherent need to understand the element of national image. As such, programs aired by the broadcast media deeply reflect the myriad factors that sum up the cultural orientation of the people of Singapore. With regard to this, the role of the media in contributing to the national identity rests in the pedestal of value in protecting and sustaining a sense of national identity (Giddens, 2001:65-68).
Consequently, the nation broadcast has the power to provide a focus point which revolves around developing the national culture. Stone (2000: 45-46) explains that by providing a reliable central point from which the people of Singapore can trace their cultural understanding, the media builds a process of promoting unity and infusing the belief of the people of Singapore to the whole nation. The Interplay between Media and National Identity In essence, varieties of media interact to offer a common foundation of identity.
With regard to this, it is upon the government and the citizens at large to gain meaningful force to the values of the society typified by the social behavior, beliefs and national goals. These give the media a leeway to act as a monitoring unit of the dispensation of these social behaviors as well as values. Arguably, the role of the media through civic discourse does not simply border the paradigms of expression but goes to the lengths constituting what is inherent in the national heritage and image.
Erhard (2007: 195-198) postulates that through what is called civil dialogue, the media challenges the society to articulate its prospects, assumptions, norms and opportunities as regards their national image and consequently allow for the transformation of the already articulated ideals. Considering the small size of Singapore coupled with its nature of national discourse that is local, controlled media and its freedom facilitates an expressive process that favors a political and civil expression.
This expressive process makes it easier to identify with thereby it is possible to clearly examine the national identity (Selvari, 2007: 207-209). Essentially, these national discourse and conservation is manifested in a number of frameworks that range from newspaper, speeches, popular culture as well as the factors that constitutes a process of self reflection and can be reached by a larger population of the public. In addition, the system of media practice allows for the participation of the public; a factor that yields a situation of feedback mechanism.
Evidently, this is an opportunity for Singapore, a country that does not have an overt political influence and hence, media provides a chance for the Singaporean to negotiate with the government as pertains national identity through letters to the editor, opinion polls and surveys that promotes consultative democracy (Giddens, 2001:76-79). The national debates and other public documents are made accessible by the media and continue to shape the national perception of Singapore.
Eddie (2008: 33-34) gives examples of the memoirs of Lee Kuan to articulate the issue that national debates mirrors the citizen’s perspective of the national identity. Accordingly, participation of the citizens in national debates such as the recent one that was dubbed “Dying for Singapore” reflects the duties of a citizen and thus position the media as an institution with the task of represented the symbols of national identity. The memoirs of Lee serve to influence as well as inform the popular appreciation of what Singapore has transformed into from time immemorial.
This important aspect of history gives the whole Singapore population a sense of responsibility for what Singapore has transformed into. In other words, the response of the public to such memoirs symbolizes an element of indirect renegotiation of the meaning of its national identity. As such the media is seen as an instrument that provokes the nation’s attitude of self conversation to national identity thus contributing to it. This is a fact that is reinforced by public reactions to media reports: a factor that offers invaluable appreciation into the insight of cultivating a sense of national identity.
With regard to this, the media makes citizens of Singapore to understand what their culture means and fosters a scenario whereby people delve in cultural practices that desirable and acceptable not only in Singapore and but also around the globe. According to Monre (1995: 31-33), media generates tremendous influence on culture through consecutive generations and points the need for change in the same cultural unit. Arguably, it is evident that the people of Singapore will culturally behave in a given inclination according to how it has been over the years.
This also means that even if the visitors from other country come, they are likely to acclimatize to the cultural behavior by virtue of the emphasis the media gives a cultural heritage of Singapore. In addition, the media reflects the perception the people of Singapore have on the culture. This happens through contexts of the lives of Singaporeans as they positively promote cultural values their and ability to keep pace with the wheel of progress in the world.
In light of this, the media mirrors how various communities in Singapore conceive values; thus conceptualizing that Singapore has to carry a given cultural behavior across all communities (Stone, 2000: 45-47). On the same note, Birch (1993: 46-49) notes that the media determines how the attitudes of people changes over these values and beliefs therefore, all beliefs inherent in the culture of Singapore is reflected through the media as championed by the family, religious groups, educational institutional and social dimensions.
With the changing world in terms of globalization and digitalization, media continues to play a very relevant role in representing the image of Singapore internationally. Chen (2000: 87-89) asserts that media facilitates the appreciation of the people of Singapore to cherish the importance of national identity. Accordingly, media has cushioned citizens of Singapore against the negative effects of globalization by emphasizing on value and social behavior typical of Singapore.
For example, as a result of globalization, prostitution has set into play thus undermining the image of Singapore but the continued role of the media to enlighten people on the dangers associated with prostitution, the national image is restored and people regard prostitution as an enemy that should be fought. Accordingly, the Ministry of Information and Public Service Broadcasting has stipulated that towards building a national identity, the media should function as a tool of enlightenment.
This is achieved this through providing entertainment, education as well as information (Kit-wai mai, 1999: 153-157). To succinctly foster the central sense of national identity, the media at all times uphold the values of impartiality, balance as well as objectivity. In addition to contributing to national identity, the media has served and continues to serve the general welfare of the people of Singapore by carrying out objective that add up to long term success of Singapore as a society.
Accordingly, Eddie (2008:23-25) postulates that programs that are broadcast are made accessible by the entire Singapore population and at the same time, they address the taste and interest of all groups in the Singapore population. To reinforce this point, Moran (1997: 123-125) further argues that minority groups normally have a set share of programs aired in their favor. This therefore indicates the effort of the media to collectively promote national identity through balance.
By distancing itself from certain vested interest that is not in the interest of the nation, the media preaches national cohesion which is a component of national identity. The Ministry of Culture and Heritage collaborates with the Information Sector to establish the symbolic heart national identity. According to Chen (2000: 102-105), the media comes out to assume the position of the custodian of national identity. In view of this, imaginary efforts to maintain, create and negotiate questions of cultural identification which are shouldered by the semi authoritarian authority of Singapore are also guided by the information industry.
It is observed that the primary framework to construct the Singapore’s identity is characteristic to the civic role that the media play. Kit-wai Mai (1999: 169-173) notes that self conversation within the society facilitates the growth and strength of national identity and as such, it is a function that serves as a defining rubric for the national identity given that it is epitomized through various media (Monre, 1995: 45-49). Conclusion It is in the strategy of the media to promote the cultural objectives of the Singaporeans.
Arguably, this strategy rests in the belief of regular information that captures cultural activities through press conferences, websites, broadcast media as well as bulletins. The reliability and usefulness of media is rated high in Singapore due to the evident factor of its role in contributing to the national identity. Through entertainment, education and information, polices of the government, matters of public affairs, current and international events are all captured, programmed and produced for the basis of addressing components of Singapore national identity and heritage.
Newspaper, television, radio, magazines and movies are among the components of media that continue to play a significant role in the development of national identity. Accordingly, Singapore has one of the effective as well as dynamic systems of media which continues to foster national image by integrating various ethnic communities. In motivating, education and entertaining the mass, the media influences people to participate in acclimatizing to the fats industrializing and urbanizing Singapore society thus participating in the national building.
Bibliography Birch, D 1993. Singapore Media. Practice and Strategies of Communication. California: Longman Chen, P. 2000. Singapore, National Image and Media. New York. Times Academic Press Eddie, C 2008. Communication Patterns and Mass Media in Singapore. Los Angeles: Asian Mass Communication Center Erhard, H 2007. National Identity, Mass Media and Cultural Tradition: A case of Singapore. Oxford: OUP Giddens, A. 2001. Communication and Socialization: An Experience of Mass Media.
London: Polity Press Monre, P 1995. Public Sphere, Television and National Identity. Oxford, OUP Moran, A. 1997. National Perspectives of Media and Heritage. New York: Routledge Kit-wai Mai, E 1999. Television, Culture and Politics in Singapore. London: Routledge Selvarai, V 2007. Responding to Globalization: Culture, Nation and National Identity in Singapore: New York: Routledge Stone, C. 2000. Sociology of Mass Communication: Journal of Communication. Vol 2, Issue No 12 pp45-49
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