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Ideology and the Mass Media: The Question of Determination

Editorial note The text entitled Ideology and the Mass Media: The Question of Determination is a translation of a book chapter by two crucial British political economists of communication that was originally published in 1978, in Ideology and cultural production. The authors address the question to what degree the fact that media are capitalist enterprises influences their operation. They criticize the lack of a political-economic perspective in contemporary research on the ideological role of the media, and argue that this perspective, focusing among other things on issues of ownership, control of the production process and the wider national and international economic context, is crucial to a thorough understanding of how mass media work. The text was written at a time when political economy of communication had already established itself as a relevant approach (although it went by different names, the authors for example use the term “sociology”) and it was commonly accepted that the media mostly function according to the laws of capitalist markets. Yet, as the authors point out, the implications of this fact for the understanding of the inner workings of mass media was not quite clear. Scholarly research of media was caught in the crossfire of two opposing approaches, both reaching a dead end: on the one side, vulgar interpretations of a direct influence of the base on the superstructure, on the other, approaches that treated questions of ideology in isolation from their nature as capitalist enterprises (critical cultural studies). These questions are not confined to the field of communication studies since they were dealt with by almost all critical authors that focused their attention on the issues of ideology and social reproduction. The text by Golding and Murdock remains relevant today because the issues that they raise have been largely forgotten without reaching a satisfactory conclusion.


Article inside journal

Issue No. 259 - Political Economy of Communication
Časopis za kritiko znanosti
2015 , volume volume 43 , issue issue 259