Sociology and Anthropology

Entertainment Video and the Process of Islamization in Pakistan: Theoretical Perspectives on a Policy Imperative

Islamization may best be viewed as a macrolevel and a multidimensional process of the sociocultural transformation of a society. For its success and sustenance, this process has to occur in the form of an ever-evolving sociocultural movement in synchrony and in symbiosis with other institutional, politicoeconomic, and sociocultural apparatuses of a society. It therefore is our conviction that a program of Islamization begun at the top levels of government and implemented by way of legalistic pronouncements or informational implosion and/or explosion is unlikely to succeed unless it becomes a self-propulsive pervasive force located in that particular society’s culture industry. Without this symbiosis, it is unlikely that the objectives of Islamization will ever reach the grass-roots level of that society, a development which would almost certainly preclude its concretization into a collective but accretive “social cognition,” “social affect,” and “social conation.”

As a result, the apparently contra-Islamic socialization potential of the modem culture industry, particularly the fare on entertainment video in Muslim countries in general and in Pakistan in particular, will continue to undermine and exert a major pull away from the objectives of any serious strategy for the Islamization of a society.

In the relevant literature, a society’s culture industry refers not only to all of its various transmitter categories of intellectual and artistic elites and professionals (i.e., educators, journalists, and writers’) but also to its media  institutions which purvey mass culture through entertainment fare. The present paper, in line with the culturalist approach to media theory,4 therefore broadly conceptualizes the mass media of communication in terms of culture industry. It is predicated on the assumption that, among others, entertainment video, by which is meant dramatized entertainment, films, and all other dramatized and fictionalized fare through such video-media as TV, VCR, and cinema, should be and can be harnessed to strengthen, disseminate, promote, and cultivate the Islamic foundations of our culture. The theoretical umbrella and the empirical evidence already exist in the video-media effects, particularly in the case of television, the tradition of mass communication research. These can be garnered to project, test, and pursue the entertainment video policy directions of what may be called the Islamic enculturation of Pakistani society. While this objective may not be successfully accomplished outside of a holistic framework of a total communication policy-a theme I have touched on elsewhere5 - some realization of entertainment video’s impact potential is possible. Moreover, this realization can theoretically sensitize us to those of its possible cultural functions and dysfunctions which might frontally impinge upon the Pakistani government’s Islamization efforts. 

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