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Lecture 4

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McMaster University
Communication Studies
Alexandre Sevigny

CMST 1A03 Friday January 17, 2014 Sevigny Harold Innis “Minerva’s Owl” Who was Harold Innis? - Studied at MAC – Ph.D in political economy U of Chicago - Greatest thinker in field of Canadian communications - Different types of technology lead to different societies Innis’ Philosophy - Revolutionary theory - People inhabit both a symbolic and material environment at the same time o Used to believe we inhabited material things o Not concepts – copy rights  Foggy - Put forth that ideas are just as important in economy Influence of Adam Smith - Simplier to communicate ideas – transfer of knowledge o Difficulty—media is important - The invisible hand—in the market to bring buyers and sellers together - Smith the moralist influenced innis the moralist o Free market - The theory of moral sentiemnts – A. Smith o Free market spins off into disorder and anarchy if the participants don’t share like minded moral and ethical concepts  Power to the strongest – in the hands of few people o The way you avoid the strong individual power is through strong moral components - Communities share values and beliefs that constrain the market - Raises questions around censorship Innis’s theory of media - “changes in the mode of communication lie at the heart of social, cultural and economic evolution” o Way we communicate and sore ideas and share changes our behaviours in all these ways - Technology. Determines who we are o Seeing shift to community based consumerism vs. baby boomers  Due to internet - 2 different types of technology – collapsing : o Time binding societies o Space binding societies Time-binding societies - Pre-literate, oral and tribal o Favoured mode was person-person  Singing, telling story, poem, rhyme, dance • Fairy-tale – have political realities - Emphasize continuity, for the human mind is limited in storage capacity o Rhymes that store knowledge  Righty tighty lefty loosey - Engaged in oral traditions - Conserved knowledge of a very practical and religious/magical nature - Less possibility for abstraction - Time flows in circular in this time-binding society with a recurrent present o Song of coming of age? – collapsing time of the generations  Connected to ancestors - Traditional is valued over progress Time binding media - Were either oral – social links – or handwritten - Less transportable, harder to work with and more durable than space binding media Sp
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