Visions of media spanning the globe and connecting cultures have been around at least since the birth of telegraphy, yet they have always fallen short of realities. Nevertheless, with the internet, a global infrastructure has emerged, which, together with mobile and smartphones, has rapidly changed the media landscape. This far-reaching digital connectedness makes it increasingly clear that the main implications of media lie in the extent to which they reach into everyday life. This article puts this reach into historical context, arguing that, in the pre-modern period, geographically extensive media networks only extended to a small elite. With the modern print revolution, media reach became both more extensive and more intensive. Yet it was only in the late nineteenth century that media infrastructures penetrated more widely into everyday life. Apart from a comparative historical perspective, several social science disciplines can be brought to bear in order to understand the ever more globalizing reach of media infrastructures into everyday life, including its limits. To date, the vast bulk of media research is still concentrated on North America and Europe. Recently, however, media research has begun to track broader theoretical debates in the social sciences, and imported debates about globalization from anthropology, sociology, political science, and international relations. These globalizing processes of the media research agenda have been shaped by both political developments and changes in media, including the Cold War, decolonization, the development of the internet and other new media technologies, and the rise of populist leaders.
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