What is Political Economy?
• Definitions by prime theorists
• Origins in economic thought
• How has it been taken up in
communication studies?
• Major theoreticians
• Tensions
McChesney:
• Relationship between media and
communication systems and the
broader social structures of society
• How do media systems reinforce,
challenge, or influence existing class
and social relations?
McChesney:
• How does media ownership, support
mechanisms, and government policies
influence media behavior and content?
• What are the structural factors and
labour processes in the production,
distribution, and consumption of
communication?
McChesney:
• Pessimistic view of sustainability of p-e
in American universities because of
increasing corporatization
• But, passionate about p-e of
communication as being
interdisciplinary, taking risks…
• Advocate for media reform – public
advocate
Mosco (Meehan and Wasko)
• PE examines the production,
distribution, and consumption of
resources, including communication and
information resources
• History
• Social Totality
• Moral Philosophy
• Praxis
History
• How to understand the global political
economy
• How has social change happened?
• What have been previous struggles and how
are they the same or different than current
struggles?
• E.g., is globalization new?
• When looking at ‘new’ technologies, can the
past illuminate the present (radio: Internet)…
Social Totality
• Holistic analysis
• Relationship among commodities,
institutions, social relations, and
hegemony
• What are the connections between the
economic and the political?
Commodity form
• Use of wage labour to produce goods
that are sold in the marketplace
• Media forms: television genres,
databases, PPV
• Commodification of information
• Corporatization of public space
Institutions
• Those that support, sustain, subvert
public and private activities
• Tensions between public vs. private
• Globalization exacerbating nation-state,
capital, labour relationships
• Closely interpenetrated regimes of
power and control in media systems
Social Relations
• How do people engage with the media?
• Issues of race, class, gender
• Have’s and have-not’s
That H Word – Hegemony
• Process of constituting the commonsense
• Origins from Gramsci – how to
understand capitalist society
• Used in analysis of social control
• Beyond ideology – appears natural
Some examples from everyday life…
• We take for granted that…
• Voting = democratic process
• Capitalistic marketplace = productive &
fair society
• Objectivity as cornerstone of journalism
• (Now, let’s challenge these dominant
hegemonies!)
Moral Philosophical Outlooks
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•
•
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Social values
What are appropriate social benefits?
An ethics of information in society…
E.g., who are the winners and who are
the losers?
Praxis
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•
•
•
In essence, practice & action
Concerned with social justice
Fighting for the public interest
Public intellectual stance
Mosco and Reddick
• “…the study of control and survival in
social life”
• Social transformation, social totality,
moral philosophy, praxis
• Argues for a rethinking of p-e of
communications with entry points of
commodification, spatialization, and
structuration
Commodification
• How capitalism accumulates capital and
realizes value through the
transformation of use values into
exchange values
• In short, the process of transforming
use values into exchange values
How does this relate to
imcommunication?
• “Communication processes &
technologies contribute to the general
process of commodification in the
economy as a whole”
• Ex: just-in-time manufacturing, quickresponse systems, e-commerce,
information entrepreneurial
And, (this is from Mosco, 1996, 142)
• “Commodification processes at work in
the society as a whole penetrate
communication processes and
institutions, so that improvements and
contradictions in the societal
commodification process influence
communication as a social practice”
• E.g., deregulation, liberalization of
media industries & telecom sectors
Commodification research
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•
•
•
•
Class power
Media elites
Ownership patterns
Audience commodity
Government-lobbyist liaisons
Policy Research…
• Policy – how this has contributed to
media commodification (neoliberalism)
• Tensions between public and private
spheres
• Media & democracy
• Public interest (whither the…) – ex:
Aufderheide on US Telecom Act of 1996
Spatialization
• Overcoming the constraints of space
and time in social life
• Coined by Henri Lefebvre
• Innis’ work on time-space
• Castell – “space of flows” in describing
network society
Spatialization related to
communication studies
• Addressed in institutional extension of
corporate power in communications
industry
• Analysis of corporate concentration
• Horizontal and vertical integration
• Conglomerization, cross-media
ownership
• Media ownership mapping
Spatialization….and policy
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•
•
•
Commercialization
Privatization
Liberalization
Internationalization
Structuration
• “A process by which structures are
constituted out of human agency, even
as they provide the very ‘medium’ of
that constitution” (Mosco, 1996, 212)
• Looks at agency, social relations, social
process, social practice, social
movements
• Looks at class, gender, hegemony…
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What is political economy anyway? Part 1