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Mass Media and Society

You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Having examined interpersonal communication and organizational communication with some reference to meta—communication, and having explored genres as implicit meta—messages of mass communication, it is high time that the field of media and communication studies turn its attention to meta—communication as a central area of theoretical and empirical research concerning digital media.

In this regard, the field also has a further contribution to make in other disciplines and fields currently in need of a framework for reflecting on and assessing practices of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting big data.

James W Carey on Harold Innis | Between Sympathy and Detachment

The present article has only been able to outline a preliminary typology, and to consider relevant conceptual family resemblances across cybernetics and semiotics. Together, the two traditions may serve to theorize meta—data and meta—communication as social phenomena and practices, above and beyond their most prevalent conceptions in terms of technological infrastructures and economic transactions. Beyond a critical review of the proposed typology itself and an operationalization of its elements for empirical inquiry, further research is needed on the relationship between meta—communication and communication as traditionally understood, whether as a transmission or as a ritual Carey, , when it comes to digital media.

As emphasized by Bateson , the multiple levels of language and communication interact. Codifications, but also contents, as sent or received, bear witness to the orientations, norms, and values of the communicators. In the terminology of Hjelmslev and Barthes, meta—languages intersect with connotation languages. We are defined socially by who we communicate with, in what codes, but certainly also by the content of our communications and their place in wider networks of meaning and community. It is for this reason, not least, that the trails of meta—communication motivate big—data analyses by businesses and security agencies alike.

It is also for this reason that so many users spend so much time and money meta—communicating among themselves. We all do things with data in the digital media environment. E—mail: kbj [at] hum [dot] ku [dot] dk. Chris Anderson, Roland Barthes, Selected and translated by Annette Lavers. London: Paladin Books. Gregory Bateson, Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution and epistemology. London: Granada. Anis Bawarshi, Yochai Benkler, The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom.

New Haven, Conn. Charles R. Berger, Michael E. Rolof and David R Roskos—Ewolen editors , The handbook of communication science. Second edition. Newbury Park, Calif. David M. Berry editor , Understanding digital humanities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding new media. Cambridge, Mass. Jan L. Bordewijk and Ben van Kaam, Axel Bruns, Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and beyond: From production to produsage. New York: Peter Lang.

Communication as Culture, Revised Edition

James W. Carey, Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. Boston: Unwin Hyman, pp. Mobile communication and society: A global perspective: A project of the Annenberg Research Network on international communication. Misunderstanding the Internet. London, New York: Routledge.

James J. Gibson, The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Stuart Hall, Encoding and decoding in the television discourse. Stencilled occasional paper , SP number 7. Birmingham, U. Google and the culture of search. New York: Routledge. Louis Hjelmslev, Prolegomena to a theory of language. Revised edition. Translated by Francis J. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Ian Hutchby, Conversation and technology: From the telephone to the Internet. Cambridge: Polity. Roman Jakobson, Sebeok editor.

Style in language. Henry Jenkins, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. Klaus Bruhn Jensen editor , A handbook of media and communication research: Qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Media convergence: The three degrees of network, mass, and interpersonal communication.

London: Routledge. Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, Mayer editor , Computer media and communication: A reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. Lily E. Kay, Who wrote the book of life? A history of the genetic code. Stanford, Calif. Stine Lomborg, Big data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Denis McQuail, Sixth edition. London: Sage. Carolyn R. Miller, Genre and the new rhetoric. Miller and Dawn Shepherd, Into the blogosphere: Rhetoric, community, and culture of Weblogs. David W. Park and Jefferson Pooley editors , The history of media and communication research: Contested memories.

John Durham Peters, Speaking into the air: A history of the idea of communication. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Jurgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson, Communication: The social matrix of psychiatry. Aside from his work on The Cod Fisheries , Innis wrote extensively in the s about other staple products such as minerals and wheat as well as Canada's immense economic problems in the Great Depression. During the summers of and , he travelled to the West to see the effects of the Depression for himself. He described a Prairie economy dependent on the export of wheat, yet afflicted by severe drought, on the one hand, and the increased political power of Canada's growing cities, sheltered from direct reliance on the staples trade, on the other.

The result was political conflict and a breakdown in federal—provincial relations. Innis's reputation as a "public intellectual" was growing steadily and, in , Premier Angus L. Macdonald invited him to serve on a Royal Commission to examine Nova Scotia 's economic problems. In , he was appointed a full University of Toronto professor and a year later, became the head of the university's Department of Political Economy. Innis was appointed president of the Canadian Political Science Association in His inaugural address, entitled The Penetrative Powers of the Price System , must have baffled his listeners as he ranged over centuries of economic history jumping abruptly from one topic to the next linking monetary developments to patterns of trade and settlement.

Innis also tried to show the commercial effects of mass circulation newspapers, made possible by expanded newsprint production, and of the new medium of radio, which "threatens to circumvent the walls imposed by tariffs and to reach across boundaries frequently denied to other media of communication". Both media, Innis argued, stimulated the demand for consumer goods and both promoted nationalism.

Innis was also a central participant in an international project that produced 25 scholarly volumes between and Shotwell , director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Innis edited and wrote prefaces for the volumes contributed by Canadian scholars. His own study of the cod fisheries also appeared as part of the series. His work with Shotwell enabled Innis to gain access to Carnegie money to further Canadian academic research.

As John Watson points out, "the project offered one of the few sources of research funds in rather lean times". The era of the "Dirty Thirties" with its mass unemployment, poverty and despair gave rise to new Canadian political movements. It advocated democratic socialism and a mixed economy with public ownership of key industries.

Innis and Underhill had both been members of an earlier group at the university that declared itself "dissatisfied with the policies of the two major [political] parties in Canada" and that aimed at "forming a definite body of progressive opinion". In , Innis presented a paper to the group on "Economic Conditions in Canada", but he later recoiled from participating in party politics, denouncing partisans like Underhill as "hot gospellers".

Innis maintained that scholars had no place in active politics and that instead, they should devote themselves, first to research on public problems, and then to the production of knowledge based on critical thought. He saw the university, with its emphasis on dialogue, open-mindedness and skepticism, as an institution that could foster such thinking and research. Although sympathetic to the plight of western farmers and urban, unemployed workers, Innis did not embrace socialism. Eric Havelock , a left-leaning colleague explained many years later that Innis distrusted political "solutions" imported from elsewhere, especially those based on Marxist analysis with its emphasis on class conflict.

He worried, too, that as Canada's ties with Britain weakened, the country would fall under the spell of American ideas instead of developing its own based on Canada's unique circumstances. Havelock added:. He has been called the radical conservative of his day — not a bad designation of a complex mind, clear sighted, cautious, perhaps at bottom pessimistic in areas where thinkers we would label 'progressive' felt less difficulty in taking a stand; never content to select only one or two elements in a complicated equation in order to build a quick-order policy or program; far ranging enough in intellect to take in the whole sum of the factors, and comprehend their often contradictory effects.

In the s, Harold Innis reached the height of his influence in both academic circles and Canadian society. He later became the association's second president. Innis played a central role in founding two important sources for the funding of academic research: the Canadian Social Science Research Council and the Humanities Research Council of Canada In , Innis spent nearly a month in the Soviet Union where he had been invited to attend the th anniversary celebrations marking the founding of the country's Academy of Sciences.

As a result of this contrast, a common public opinion in Russia and the West is hard to achieve. Innis's trip to Moscow and Leningrad came shortly before U. Innis lamented this rise in international tensions. For Innis, Russia was a society within the Western tradition, not an alien civilization. He abhorred the nuclear arms race , seeing it as the triumph of force over knowledge, a modern form of the medieval Inquisition. In , Innis was elected president of the Royal Society of Canada , the country's senior body of scientists and scholars.

That same year, he served on the Manitoba Royal Commission on Adult Education and published Political Economy in the Modern State , a collection of his speeches and essays that reflected both his staples research and his new work in communications. In , Innis was appointed the University of Toronto's dean of graduate studies. In , he delivered lectures at the University of London and Nottingham University. He also gave the prestigious Beit lectures at Oxford , later published in his book Empire and Communications.

In , Innis was appointed as a commissioner on the federal government's Royal Commission on Transportation, a position that involved extensive travel at a time when his health was starting to fail. He was academically isolated because his colleagues in economics could not fathom how this new work related to his pioneering research in staples theory. Biographer John Watson writes that "the almost complete lack of positive response to the communications works, contributed to his sense of overwork and depression". Innis died of prostate cancer in a few days after his 58th birthday.

Following his premature death, Innis' significance increasingly deepened as scholars in several academic disciplines continued to build upon his writings. Marshall Poe 's general media theory that proposes two sub-theories were inspired by Innis. Douglas C. North expanded on of Innis' " vent for surplus " theory of economic development by applying it to regional development in the United States and underdeveloped countries. Carey adopted Innis as a "reference point in his conception of two models of communication". As a young English professor, McLuhan was flattered when he learned that Innis had put his book The Mechanical Bride on the reading list of the fourth-year economics course.

Biographer Paul Heyer writes that Innis's concept of the "bias" of a particular medium of communication can be seen as a "less flamboyant precursor to McLuhan's legendary phrase ' the medium is the message. Both McLuhan and Innis assume the centrality of communication technology; where they differ is in the principal kinds of effects they see deriving from this technology. Whereas Innis sees communication technology principally affecting social organization and culture, McLuhan sees its principal effect on sensory organization and thought.

McLuhan has much to say about perception and thought but little to say about institutions; Innis says much about institutions and little about perception and thought. He writes that "the mechanization of knowledge, not the relative sensual bias of media, is the key to Innis's work. This also underlies the politicization of Innis's position vis-a-vis that of McLuhan.

For Watson, Innis's work is therefore more flexible and less deterministic than McLuhan's. As scholars and teachers, Innis and McLuhan shared a similar dilemma since both argued that book culture tended to produce fixed points of view and homogeneity of thought; yet both produced many books. In his introduction to the reprint of The Bias of Communication , McLuhan marvelled at Innis's technique of juxtaposing "his insights in a mosaic structure of seemingly unrelated and disproportioned sentences and aphorisms".

McLuhan argued that although this made reading Innis's dense prose difficult—"a pattern of insights that are not packaged for the consumer palate"—Innis's method approximated "the natural form of conversation or dialogue rather than of written discourse". Best of all, it yielded "insight" and "pattern recognition" rather than the "classified knowledge" so overvalued by print-trained scholars.

Innis's theories of political economy, media and society remain highly relevant: he had a profound influence on critical media theory and communications and, in conjunction with McLuhan, offered groundbreaking Canadian perspectives on the function of communication technologies as key agents in social and historical change.


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Together, their works advanced a theory of history in which communication is central to social change and transformation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Harold Innis. Otterville , Ontario , Canada. Toronto , Ontario , Canada. Further information: Harold Innis and the fur trade. Further information: Harold Innis and the cod fishery. Further information: Harold Innis's communications theories. In Approaches to Canadian Economic History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press , pp. Toronto: University of Toronto Press , p. Library Archives Canada.

Retrieved 23 April Innis Changing Concepts of Time.

Donald Creighton: A Life in History. In The Bias of Communication. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. This is a reprint of McLuhan's introduction to the edition of Innis's book The Bias of Communication first published in Harold Adams Innis: Portrait of a Scholar. University of Toronto Press , pp.


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  7. Innis refers to this question in the preface to The Bias of Communication, his book of essays on consciousness and communication. Creighton wrote that Innis believed if German aggression went unpunished, it would be fatal to Christian hope for the world. Watson notes that , young Canadians died in the war, while , were wounded.

    The war was a devastating blow to Innis's generation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. New York: Routledge, p. Revised ed. Montreal: New World Perspectives, p. Revised Edition. The reference to "dirt" experience appears in Watson, p. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp.

    Fourth Edition. New Institutionalism: Theory and Analysis. Toronto: Dundurn Press, pp. Also see, Patterson, Graeme. See also, Heyer, pp. The comment about universities mustering their courage appears in "The upside of ivory towers" by Rick Salutin. Globe and Mail , September 7, Ottawa: Canada National Library, p. Westport: Greenwood Press, p.