Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Control Room

Throughout this week’s readings, I was struck by how all of these theories focused on different aspects of communications control. Modernization Theory noted that control of communications was the answer to helping countries develop. Dependency Theory said communication control was just another way to keep developing countries submissive to the developed world. Structural Imperialists were interested in the controlled flow of news and its filters. Hegemony looked at controlling consent through ideological reinforcement and communications while Critical Theorists studied the control over production of the cultural industry. In addition, Globalization is seen as control over the standardization of communication networks to homogenize and "McDonaldize" society.

Innis' perspective said that control of the monopolies of knowledge led to an unequal balance between time-biased and space-biased media. A society could not be stable if both medias weren’t in balance.

Carey took a different stance with communication theory and control. He noted “there is no such thing as communication to be revealed in nature through some objective method free from the corruption of culture.” (Carey, p31) Communication creates culture and reality in almost a Catch-22. He thought society would never reach a ritual form of communications until it stopped promoting a controlled transmission form.

This controlled transmission form of communications is what permeates current communication theory and use. Weaver discusses how even radical theories such as Huntington’s fear-filled separatist arguments get disseminated through the White House because governments realize the importance of staying on top of communications ideas. Control of communications equals power. Thussu points out that governments are losing control of communications to transnational corporations (TNC's) who are taking over more of the communication outlets and ultimately the control. These huge corporations spend billions of dollars trying to reach new consumers around the globe so it is in their best interests to control all aspects of the market.

For the time being, Carey’s ideal of a ritual form of communication seems a long way off. This transformation is unlikely until societies decide to step out of the control room and focus on finding a way to “rebuild a model of and for communication of some restorative value in reshaping our common culture.” (Carey, p35)

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