GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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The Impact of Global Communications on Family Values in Qatar
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper examines the impact of the sudden profusion of internet media and other forms of global communications on family values in Qatar.

The centerpiece of this study consists of a survey conducted in February of 2011 with a grant provided by the Qatar National Research Fund to determine inter-generational and inter-class differentials in the perception and practice of the global communication revolution in Qatar. Relying on a survey of Qatari citizens of different age and class clusters, the paper evaluates the impact of the global communications revolution on the public discourse on family values, as well as on broader social dynamics within the Qatari nation-state.

The majority of mass communications and sociological research has focused on examining the media content and the audience of the media in the United States and Europe, yet documentation on the societal consequences of the dissemination of internet media and other forms of mass communication on Arab, and in particular Gulf countries such as Qatar, remains scarce. The particular placement of Qatar at the heart of the cross-currents of globalization affords a unique opportunity to examine this phenomenon. Until recently, Qatar was very isolated from the process of globalization and the ICT revolution. Yet within the past decade, Qatar has witnessed an immense socio-economic development which included a sudden and incisive technological transformation in the realm of electronic communication.

The paper weighs the repercussions of this sudden exposure to global communication networks and new technologies for the core ethical orientations underpinning family values and kinship ties in Qatar.
Multiple studies have documented the globalization of mass communications, including the formative technological, structural, and economic developments which have expanded the pace and density of cross-border information flows. While there is a mountain of theoretical speculation, far less is known about the consequences of this process. Taking the World Values Survey as its methodological inspiration, this contribution focuses on the ways that electronic communications may potentially affect Qatari citizens through reshaping the web of family values and relationships.

Surveys indicate that young people in America spend more time engaged with these types of mass media than they typically spend either in school or interacting with their parents. Our research proceeds from - and to a certain degree confirms - the hypothesis that similar (if culturally distinct) phenomena heralding increasing individualism and an atomistic society are observable in Qatar.

Lastly, this paper considers current and prospective governmental initiatives designed to mitigate the adverse affects of the electronic communications revolution in Qatar.