Sunday, September 13, 2009

Analysis Question #1- Political Economy

Thussu describes the political-economy approach as the “underlying structures of economic and political power.” Although recently there has been a shift from analyzing the political economy to analyzing the cultural aspects of communication and media, I believe that political economy concerns are still relevant in the discussion of international communication. Within the Marxist theory, political economy focuses on the “commodification of communication” which looks at how those in power use mass media to produce and distribute material. Additionally, it focuses on how the audience consumes the material they are given. Many may argue that with the development of new media technology, people are able to reach out across national boundaries to communicate with each other, therefore, it is no longer necessary to analyze how those in power influence political economy. However, in many countries economic and political power still remain restricted to a “tiny unrepresentative elite” and eventually those in power will develop ways to use new media technology to legitimize their political establishments. For example, in the weeks leading up to 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Chinese internet users were denied access to sites such as: Blogger, Flickr, Twitter, Livejournal, Tumblr, the Huffington Post and Microsoft's, Hotmail, and Bing. This is a perfect example of how a nation-state controlled the distribution of new media technology in an effort to control communication between people of nation-states. With the economic growth of nations like China, who have the potential to influence the emerging global ‘knowledge society,’ we must continue to analyze the political economy approach in order to understand the way these dominate nations will influence international communication.

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