Political economy of communication: a critique

Phil Graham
2007 Critical Perspectives on International Business  
This chapter outlines an agenda for political economy of communication by identifying dominant trends and arguments in contemporary studies; providing a critique of those arguments; and outlining necessary theoretical and methodological elements for future research in the area. The chapter provides a history of political economy of communication; what a political economy of communication means in the current context; and the implications of these for a more general political economic praxis in
more » ... he current environment. * I wish to thank and acknowledge the Canada Research Chairs Program for their support http://www.chairs.gc.ca/ 2 Political Economy of Communication: A Critique Overview The broad range of studies that fall under the heading of "political economy of communication" has been growing and diversifying these past fifty years or so in much the same way as classical political economy did from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. For some, it is an area of study that focuses on mass media industry structures, emphasising the effects of ownership on political systems. For others, it is a study of various moments in what might be called the "commodity" cycle in mass media: production, distribution, exchange, and consumption. For others, it is only one or two of these moments, the most prominent of those being distribution and consumption. Some studies emphasise content, others technology. Some emphasise flows of information within various econometric frameworks. In this chapter, I proceed firstly by tracing the historical development of "political economy of communication" as a recognisable field of scholarship. I then identify the various approaches that characterise this relatively young field and offer a critique of these. Finally, I suggest a theoretical and methodological synthesis for the development of a robust political economy of communication and some directions for future research. Key definitions and a brief history I define political economy here as the study of how values of all kinds are produced, distributed, exchanged, and consumed (the economic); how power is produced, distributed, exchanged, and exercised (the political); and how these aspects of the social world are related at any given place and time in history. A political economy of communication is therefore concerned with understanding how communication figures in
doi:10.1108/17422040710775012 fatcat:7k7pw2l4ojevnp5m5vyrc4w3cy