- Banal cosmopolitanism and The Lord of the Rings: the limited role of national differences in global media consumption
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Comparative reception studies are generally built around the expectation to find national cultural differences. Using data from a comparative study on The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, this paper investigates the role of nationality in the reception of global media texts. Analysis of differences in appreciation, interpretation and involvement in an online survey (N = 24,747) showed great variation in audience reception, especially in interpretation, but no cultural or national patterns. Cluster analysis of response patterns yielded two clusters. The first cluster had greater levels of involvement and appreciation, strong allegiance to the preferred reading, and higher prevalence in the Anglophone world; the second contained more diverse interpretations by respondents further from the global "center" both geographically and demographically (gender, age). The paper argues that for global media texts like LotR, national "repertoires of evaluation" are superseded by global or transnational repertoires, which are more readily available to viewers closer to the cultural and geographic center. This calls into question the use of the nation-state as the fundamental unit of analysis for comparative research. Globalized, market-driven cultural expressions produce patterns of reception characterized by what Beck described as "banal cosmopolitanism": the experience of "globality" embedded in everyday life.
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