Born in 1947 in Douala, Cameroon, Dominique Wolton is a Doctor of sociology. He also has a Bachelor’s degree in law and is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. He is currently the Research Director at C.N.R.S. (the French National Center for Scientific Research). He has directed the Information, Communication and Scientific Issues Research Laboratory since 2000. He founded the international revue Hermès (published by CNRS) and has headed it since 1988. The revue provides interdisciplinary studies of communication and its connection with individuals, technology, cultures and societies. Dr. Wolton also directs the collection Communication (published by CNRS) which he created in 1998. His main field of research concerns an analysis of the relationships between culture, political communication, Europe and the internet. He also studies the political and cultural consequences of the globalization of information and communication. He believes that information and communication constitute one of the major political issues of the 21st century. Cultural cohabitation is imperative to the construction of the 3rd globalization. In 2003, he published l’Autre Mondialisation (Published by Flammarion), followed by Il Faut Sauver la Communication (Flammarion), published in February 2005. Dr. Wolton is a member of the Committee on Ethics in the Sciences of CNRS, the National Consulting Committee on Ethics in Life and Health Sciences (CCNE), the Administrative Council of the Groupe France Télévisions and the channel France 2. He is president of the Commissariat of Terminology and Neology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he is a member of the High Council of Francophonie, the Scientific Council of Parliament evaluating scientific and technological decisions, and the French Commission of UNESCO. Dominique Wolton is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques as well as Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres.
1. COMMUNICATION AND DEMOCRACY.
“The challenge of communication does not so much consist in sharing something with the few people I feel close to, but in being able to co-exist with the many people with whom I have no common values or interests. The quick dissemination of messages and information is not enough to make people understand each other better. Transmission and interaction are not synonymous with communication.”
The ability to communicate is the most important power one can possess. We all strive to attain it and no one can without effort. Communication is at the heart of all relationships, be them personal, familial, social, political or those forged in the name of globalization. However, it is constantly devalued and accused of being manipulated. Saving communication means defending the ideals of democracy and understanding that communication and cohabitation are among the most important issues in the negotiation of peace and war in the 21st century. Communication is always a gamble. Today, as globalization marks the end of physical distance and reveals the incredibly vast cultural distance, communication is an essential value to assure that culture shock does not lead to the war of civilizations.
2. CULTURAL DVIVERSITY AND COHABITATION : A 21ST CENTURY POLITICAL ISSUE.
“The global village is a technical reality which demands a political project; indeed the more technology reduces geographical distances, the more cultural gaps loom large and make a humanist project necessary to help people tolerate each other. Information and communication which have constituted an incentive to liberty and progress for centuries, may otherwise become an incentive to war in the 21st century.”
Now that borders are opening, travel is affordable and television and internet have brought us closer, the world is transforming into one giant community. This is, at least, what the communication industry wants us to believe: we will all be ‘citizens of the world’, part of a vast network, within reach of the most different cultures. The best way to take on this new world is to be sure of oneself and one’s roots. Just because someone is easier to reach does not mean they are easier to understand. The opposite, in fact, is true. The more our differences are revealed, the more tension is created. Strangely, while we fixate on economic globalization, we have totally neglected to consider this ‘other globalization’, which happens to determine the future of the world, be it peace or war. Under what conditions, then, do we construct cultural cohabitation in the new world? This question puts light on one of today’s main political issues.
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