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In Capitalism and Communication a leading exponent of the political economy approach to mass communication poses a robust intellectual challenge to the currently dominant postmodernist and information-society theories. Combining theoretical reflection with empirical case studies, these seminal essays investigate the role of the media and cultural institutions in contemporary capitalist societies.
The debate revolves around two questions, one concerning public policy, the other media studies. Under current economic and political conditions, what are the appropriate forms and places for government intervention? What should cultural and media studies be studying, how and why?
Nicholas Garnham argues that only Marxist political economy offers an adequate theoretical foundation for understanding the dual nature - both economic and political - of communication practices in capitalist societies. He pays particular attention to the impact of global economic restructuring and the associated spread of new telecommunication technologies.
This theme is linked to an argument against the media-centric approach to the study of communications. The author contends instead that the media are worth studying essentially because they bring into focus key wider problems within both social science and politics.
This spirited defence of modernism, combining rationalism with democracy, will be of central interest to all concerned with communication studies, cultural studies and the sociology and political economy of the media.
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