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Political economy of communication the analysis of the social and political relations that constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of.

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Presentation on theme: "Political economy of communication the analysis of the social and political relations that constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of."— Presentation transcript:

1 political economy of communication the analysis of the social and political relations that constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of diverse media and information resources. a political economy of communication emphasizes the institutional network of communication and media products linking producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers (and increasingly, creators…in an era of fandom and remix)…

2 A political economy of communication focuses on media industries and institutions and issues such as: --media ownership and media concentration --the structural components of neoliberal policies (consolidation, diversification, privatization, commercialization, internationalization, globalization, and public versus private media) --power dynamics in media practices and policy --alternative media practices towards social justice (media reform)

3 Analyses examine the relationship between media and communication systems and the broader social structures of society, asking questions about how media systems reinforce, challenge, or influence existing class, gender, race and social relations. Looks at community, national and global systems and regimes.

4 Structural research is also characteristic of political economic policy research. While typically deployed to look at how media industries are created and maintained, the salient structural factors characteristic of the neoliberal agenda, wherein communication policies became increasingly linked to economic interests, are analyzed. This critique foregrounds the oppositional tension inherent in the public interest versus market fundamentalism. This tension has both dramatically weakened the public interest in government policy discourse while at the same time strengthening the resolve of citizens’ organizations to push for reform.

5 Major Trends in PE (Mosco, 2009) --intellectual currents Globalization of Political Economy --analyzing trends and issues in global media systems --analyzing global media policy issues --reacting to global policy agenda (e.g. World Summit on the Information Society – ITU, etc., civil society presence, 2003 and 2005 --interrogating cultural imperialism thesis (dominance of US) --mobility of pe scholars across countries --resilience of institutional markers: conferences (IAMCR, UDC) and publishing venues (Lexington, Rowman & Littlefield) --studying international divisions of labor in the media industries

6 Histories of Communication Media & Policy --ex: McChesney’s 1993 work on radio reform in the US in the 1930s- parallels with today’s media reform movement --various struggles of media workers in labour situations, public or private media --a look at resistance movements

7 Feminist political economy --standpoint theory-look at life through women’s POV --Eileen Meehan & Ellen Riordan’s Sex & Money (2001) --Sarikakis & Shade (!) in Feminist Interventions in International Communication from Mosco, 2009: --Like many political economic analyses, the book addresses power, technology, labour, and policy but it views them from the entry point of gender. So, for example, the globalization of media industries is tightly connected to women’s employment in media and new technology. In using a feminist standpoint, they enable us to rethink the study of international communication. …In essence, Sarikakis and Shade demonstrate that international communication is not gender blind; nor is it a field that simply describes a set of impacts on women. Rather, they and the contributors to their volume, demonstrate how women can shape international communication, from production through employment to policy and their book takes an important step by seeing all of these as women’s issues …

8 Labour and PE --labour convergence: trade unions in media industries working together --workers within media institutions, at different levels of work hierarchy (‘grunt workers’ to management level) --conceptualizing different forms of labour: invisible, gendered, affective, contingent…

9 Shift to ‘new media’ or ‘social media’ studies --new forms and varieties of capitalism --new forms of governance – e.g. for the internet --labour: considers the voices and power of all workers in the labour process and chain (global chain)… --policy issues – Access: who has access, who doesn’t? Copyright – rights holders vs. public access/ Privacy – personal rights vs. monetization of content

10 PE and Media Activism/Media Reform --praxis --activist and academic contributions to media policies in the public interest --policy interventions – especially digital policy issues such as net neutrality but also media concentration

11 Trends in Global Media Convergence: how digital technologies alter and blur the traditional distinctions between print and broadcasting media. A media company crosses across a plethora of different platforms: newspaper to web to television to mobile... Convergence strategies have also shifted from multimedia content convergence for consumers to cross-media opportunities for advertisers. Challenge: how to regulate: through broadcasting or telecommunications acts?

12 Media ownership: conglomeration & concentration structural features of media ownership, three main trends: 1. Horizontal concentration of ownership: when a firm in one line of media buys a major interest in another media operation not directly related to the original business, or when it takes a major stake in a non-media company. Example: television broadcaster acquires another television broadcaster. Slide: Our Cultural Sovereignty report: The top 5 ownership groups owned 68% of all tv stations in 2000, this figure was 28.6% in 1970.


14 2. Vertical concentration of ownership: characterized by a concentration of firms within a single line of business in order to extend a company’s control over the process of production and/or distribution. CRTC definition: “the ownership, by one entity, of both programming and distribution undertakings, or both programming undertakings and production companies” Example: Canada’s major companies – Bell, Rogers, Shaw & Quebecor – own content and the mechanisms to distribute the content. Bell owns CTV, Globe and Mail; Rogers – City TV, Macleans; Shaw – Canwest Global and National Post; Quebecor – Sun television networks and newspapers. Concern: undue preference given to programming from related company…or discrimination by company to programming from another company.

15 3. Cross-media ownership: when a firm in one discrete industry acquires a firm in another industry. Ex: a a broadcaster buying up a newspaper, owning wireless and telecom properties. Slide – Our Cultural Sovereignty



18 Globalization the transformation of communication spaces and social relations occurring across national borders. It is characterized by economic globalization, or the integration of the global economy through free-trade mechanisms and international bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO); and by cultural globalization, or the absorption and integration of global cultural forms into other cultural products and services.

19 Neoliberalism dominant political economic system today, inflects globalization with the values (and valorization) of private markets, deregulation and trade liberalization. Neoliberalism also permeates the ideological undercurrent of recent international ICT policy today (e.g. WSIS, development of digital economy in various countries)

20 Deregulation the belief by governments and international trade bodies that competitive markets are fostered by not regulating the media. The mantra of market forces weaves itself through industry hype, government rhetoric, and policy documents. Robert McChesney re United States: “while the rhetoric extols small government, free markets, competition, and entrepreneurial risk-taking, the reality is that a large government is doling out crucial contracts, monopoly licenses, and subsidies to huge firms in highly concentrated industries” (2004, p. 51).


22 Winseck: Growth of Network Media Economy, Globe and Mail (Aug 23 2011)




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