Educating Public Opinion: Understanding U.S. Dollar Hegemony in the Age of Global News Media

Open Access
Kim, Sung-Hae
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 17, 2005
Committee Members:
  • Ronald V Bettig, Committee Chair
  • Krishna Prasad Jayakar, Committee Member
  • Jeremy Packer, Committee Member
  • Steve L Thorne, Committee Member
  • democratic information order
  • professional communicators
  • international public sphere
  • U.S. dollar hegemony
  • public opinion
  • intellectual leadership
U.S. economic leadership has been studied in adopting the hegemon¡¯s intellectual leadership model. The primary purpose of this study is to unravel the symbolic mechanism by which the U.S., a hegemon, brings forth weak states¡¯ cooptation. The applicability of the model is thus evaluated by selecting South Korea¡¯s cooperation with U.S. dollar based international financial order through the Asian crisis in 1997. Since the model presupposes the hegemon¡¯s necessity of winning supportive public opinion in weak states, not only hegemon¡¯s building up intellectual leadership but also weak states¡¯ subscription to the leadership is investigated. The author claims that the hegemon is able to persuade South Koreans ¡°intellectually¡± ¡°not necessarily morally¡± by utilizing its affiliations such as the International Monetary Fund, residing U.S. intellectuals and U.S. based news media. Also the author finds that Koreans¡¯ buying into the leadership was possible because the symbolic elite of Korea in particular U.S. trained intellectuals and news media actively supported the hegemon. Specifically, this study reveals that not only did Korean intellectuals develop an intellectual apprenticeship with the hegemon¡¯s intellectuals, but Korean media also prioritized hegemonic affiliations over Korean power elite. The author thus argues that the national interest of Korea in coping with the Korean crisis of 1997 was socially constructed in line with satisfying the hegemon¡¯s structural agenda and strategically chosen foreign policies. Yet given that the hegemon abused its legitimacy and credibility, the author suggests ways of improving the hegemon¡¯s international accountability. Hence, a truer sense of democratic international information order supported by international ¡°check and balance¡± system is outlined. Since weak states failed to develop their own analytic frameworks fit into their national interests, the author also urges them to establish think tanks focused on policy analysis and educate professional communicators.