The Political Economy of Communication, Vincent Mosco

In Mosco’s model of political economy, the control and the survival that related with the maintainence of social order are the main point to explain political economy. He focuses on four main characteristic of critical political economy:

  • Social change and history: Political economy continues the tradition of classical theorists, uncovering the dynamics of capitalism,its cyclical nature, the growth of monopoly capital, state apparatus and so on.
  • Social totality: The political economy is holistic that explores the relations among commodity, institutions , social relations and hegemony. It explores the determination among these elements.
  • Moral Philosophy: The analysis of economic system and also discussion of the policy problems and moral issues that arise from it.
  • Praxis: Political economists attempt to transcend teh distinction between researc and plicy, orienting their work toward actual social changes and practice.
the political economy of communications, Janer Wasko

The Burnham Plan

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.”  Daniel Burnham
Burnham Plan was also known as Chicago plan. Daniel Burnham was the architecture of the Chicago plan. Before this plan, Chicago has got all the characteristics of the capitalist industry city. For example;

  • The scale and social qualities of the city started to corrupt and there was also a corruption about the usage of lands.
  • Chicago started to take  mass emigration from the other cities and the problem of homelessness and unemployment began to increase.

With this plan he tried to fix these problems. And he tried to create a modern urban planning. Chicago was afreshed by him.

And Chicago school started to investigate the problems of the Chicago city. Because with the innovation, there were lots of problems occured in the society. Urbanization and Social mobility were one of the major problems. Chicago school attached importance to these problems.

This video explains the Burnham Plan

Burnham Plan

The medium is the message

According to technological determinism;society is shaped by the technology and “technology is seen as the fundamental condition underlying the pattern of social organization”
Marshall Mcluhan, who is a communication theorist, is also a technological determinist and he said that “we shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.” He come up with a discourse which name is “the medium is the message” about the media.  According to him media always works on our body and brain. And two of them (our body and brain) are shaping and changing by the media. The concept of the Mcluhan’s media is very different and wide from the other type of medias. Any kind of technology such as garment to the computer, wheel-to furniture, which improves the human emotions and body ability, covers the meaning of the media according to him.

He explains his discourse in his book which name is “the medium is the massage” These following sentences are some part of his book.
” all media are extensions of some human faculty- psychic or physical;
the wheel is an extension of the foot
the book is an extension of the eye
clothing, an extension of the skin…
electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system.
media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. the extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act- the way we perceive the world. when these ratios change, men change.”

And this video is about his discourse

The medium is the message-extensions

The beginnings of Commucication Studies

Lazarsfeld, Lewin, Hovland and Lasswell are important theorists in history of communication studies. When we look into their lives, we will notice a common point. These theorists research the situations of World War 2.

In this point, i should do the definition of social psychology; the individual is never thought seperate from society, group or social context. Social psychology research how the human behaviour is shaped by society and social context. Lazarsfeld, Lewin, Hovland and Lasswell was effected by historical context which they are witness of.

Why did these theorist study about communication? Millions of people make war to kill each other why they don’t know. This period ensue the enlightenment age that scientist, philosophers, artists defend the rationalist thoughts. They believe that everything goes to better changes for the better. On the other hand, the enlightenmet idea  was collapsed with World War 2.

How was the only one man (Adolf Hitler) caused to genocide of millions of Jewish people? What kind of propaganda method was used by him? How is the human behaviour affected by autority?  What does the people attribute the responsibilities of their crimes? How is the persuasion mechanism working? How can the mass communication use in war process?

The humanity has a heavy loss during the World War 2, however this period was efficient for social sciences.


About them:

  • Lazarsfeld: American sociologist. He was born in a Jewish family. He established mathematical sociology. He made an important contribution to research methods of social sciences.
  • Kurt Lewin: He came from a Jewish Family in Poland. They migrated to Germany , after then USA. He studied about organizational behavior, group dynamics and experimental social psychology.
  • Carl Hovland: American psychologist. He had been in army during World War 2. His research interest were attitude changes and persuasion. He also studied about how mass communication can use more efficiently in war process.
  • Harold Lasswell: American political scientist, also communication theorist. He comes from Chicago School. He was inspired by Dewey and Mead. He was a real social scientist. He studied about sociology, psychology, philosophy, political sciences and communication. He had some researchs about propaganda films.

New Media and Democracy

One of the main characteristics of new media, the flows of information can be possible between user groups or individual users (Törenli, 2005: 159). It is mentioned that when participant emphasis of democracy is realized, internet is a really important tool to improve democracy. So is it really true?

According to information society thesis, while information is spaning, the power will be shared and governments will be more participant, apparent and transparent with the coercion of technology (Neuman, 1991: 32-33). On the other hand, there are some critical thoughts aganist the information society thesis. For Ellul, posibilities of civilan resistance has no chance in view of “system of technicians” which is independent and reproduce itself again and again. Actually, new technologies do not present a different thing from standadized products of culture industry. Accordiing to Schiller, there is not a thing like information society, it is just a conceptualization to reinforce market economy. Tourinne also emphasize that it is a social phase after the industirialization (Törenli, 2005: 225). For Hacker, the discourse of information society and communication technlogies turn democracy into a technical problem (Hacker, 1996: 214).

According to John Street, electronical democracy presents the model of Ancient Greek’s direct democracy (Street, 1997: 31-33). In contrary, the concept of electronical democracy is criticized. Technology can not resolve the problems of democracy. Although one of the requirements of democracy is information freedom, there is no concrete data to prove that majority of information reinforcesthe democracy. Besides, the differnce between information and knowledge is important. Information is a fact that its accuracy is polemical. The other critical thought is “to be electronical” makes nonsense of democracy. It refers to democracy is just perceived as voter behaviour (Timisi, 2003: 210-212).

Most of people believe that information is an easiliy accesiable source anymore, however it is like a fairy tale in this unequal conditions. They desregard economical and technical differences (Törenli, 2005: 220). The possiblities of new media about collecting, processing, circulating and storage of information are instrumental in activity of elites in lieu of ordinary people, so the liberalizing and participatory effect of new media is not realistic (Törenli, 2005: 219).


  • Street, John (1997). “Remote Control? Politics, Technology and ‘Electronic Democracy’”. European Journal of Communication. 12(1): 27-42.
  • Theaker A (2006), Halkla İlişkilerin El Kitabı, Murat Yaz, Çev, İstanbul: MediaCat Kitapları.
  • Timisi, N. (2003), Yeni İletişim Teknolojileri ve Demokrasi, Ankara: Dost Kitabevi Yayınları.
  • Törenli, N. (2007), Bilişim Teknolojileri Temelinde Haber Medyasının Yeniden Biçimlenişi: Yeni Medya, Yeni İletişim Ortamı, Ankara: Bilim ve Sanat Yayıları.
  • Van Dijk, J. (2004). ‘Digital Media’ The Sage Handbook of Media Studies, John D.H. Downing, Denis Mcquail, Philip Schlensinger, Ellen Wartella (ed.) . London: Sage 145-163.
  • Neuman, W. (1991) , The Future of the Mass Audience. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hacker, Kenneth L. (1996), “Missing Links in the Evolution of the Electonic Democratization”, Media, Culture and Society, 18: 213-232.

Cultural Industries

The sketch which is related with cultural industry

It is a sketch from the devianart and it is related with the cultural industries and it name is Naked and Powerless. The text in the middle of the sketch is a translation from the italian screamo band La Quiete according to the explanations and it is a very successful working which explains the culture industry. ” the cultural industry organises entertainment and styles reaching the complete levelling of the individuals, reduced to zero and integrated in the dominant culture, expression of the ideology of the power. disoriented, betrayed, naked and powerless. it’s dangerous to disturb the sleep of people, guinea-pigs immersed in the numbness they want for themselves.”

With the help of the capitalism, culture is created its own industry which is related with the consumption behaviour. Individuals’ assets their own consumptions and this is not interested in the production style.With the culture industries the desire of the goods are playing significant role in people’s social life and they started to consume in an extreme way. The consuming is not related with their needs, it is related with their pleasure. Films, advertisements, televison programmes and these kind of things increase the avarege of consuming. And these consuming is shaped by the dominant culture. Dominant culture is shaped by the these television programmes, advertisements. One ordinary product is become popular by the helping of the dominant culture and all the peoples in the societies buy these popular product. And this situation create naked and powerless individuals.