259MCP 10 (3) pp. 259–271 Intellect Limited 2014International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics Volume 10 Number 3 © 2014 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/macp.10.3.259_1Janet WaskoUniversity of Oregonthe study of the political economy of the media in the twenty-first centuryabstractThis discussion presents a brief overview of the establishment and expansion of the study of the political economy of media and communications, followed by atten-tion to some of current directions of this approach. Themes and concepts developed by political economists of the media are reviewed, as well as internal and external critiques of the approach. Recent developments are discussed, including the growth of integrated studies, the return to classic Marxist themes, integration of digital tech-nologies, and attention to policy and activism.As I write this article, I am also working on a syllabus for a graduate class on the study of the political economy of the media. This reminds me that Dallas Smythe’s syllabi at the University of Illinois for two semester-long courses on the political economy of communications in the early 1950s were chock full of stimulating and relevant readings that were important for an understanding of political economy and its application to media and communication. These days, the amount of material written from this perspective is even more plen-tiful.Not only are there more and more academics working in this area, but the significance of understanding the political economy of media and commu-nications is increasingly recognized outside academe. Thus, more interesting and important publications are available to use in university courses.keyWordspolitical economymarketizationMarxist theorydigital capitalismconcentrationcommodification
Janet Wasko260All of this is not surprising in light of developments in media and commu-nications worldwide that demand the kind of analysis offered by a political economic perspective. Despite enhanced opportunities for communication offered by new media technologies, the media world is still often character-ized by corporatization, commercialization, commodification and concentra-tion. Thus, an analysis of these developments is an important (and, I would argue, necessary) context for understanding the meanings and impact of media products.This discussion will present a brief overview of the establishment and expansion of the study of the political economy of media and communications (PEM1), followed by attention to some of current directions of this approach. PeM foundationsThe study of the PEM certainly did not begin in the twenty-first century, but emerged with the evolution of mass media in the twentieth century with roots in the work of classic political economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most often, those working within a political economic approach in media and communication studies have adopted a Marxist/neo-Marxist theo-retical framework and thus a critical perspective. However, the classic politi-
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