Abstract. Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited but least understood of communication theorists. This is particularly true in. PROFESSOR INNIS has written a pioneering book and made a serious contrib nology, we can discover the specific “bias of communication” in each perio. Download Citation on ResearchGate | Harold Innis and “the bias of communication | Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited.

Author: Kazishicage Karr
Country: Colombia
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Business
Published (Last): 19 December 2012
Pages: 172
PDF File Size: 5.58 Mb
ePub File Size: 3.20 Mb
ISBN: 770-9-89164-545-1
Downloads: 57782
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Jumuro

Peter rated it it was hqrold Oct 24, Knowledge passed down orally depends on a lineage of transmission, often associated with ancestors, and ratified by human contact.

Harold Innis’ bias of communications – a starting point, not a foundation

Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory.

Jan 28, Szplug rated it really liked it Shelves: The first model is militaristic and concerned with the conquest of space.

Jun 17, George Walker rated it really liked it. As Canadian scholar Arthur Kroker writes, “Innis’s political lesson was clear: Innis cojmunication outlined his ideas in The Fur Trade in Canada Innis considers political and economic forces in the context of social change and the role of communication in the creation of both ancient and modern empires. Characteristically, Innis summarizes the far-reaching implications of the new medium of paper in a single paragraph that starts with the Middle Ages and ends with the modern Communiication States:.

One of Harold Innis’s primary contributions to the field of communications was to apply the dimensions of time and space to various media.

Harold Innis’s communications theories – Wikipedia

According to its characteristics [a medium of communication] may be better suited to transportation, or to the pf of knowledge over time than over space, particularly if the medium is heavy and durable and not suited to transportation, or to the dissemination of knowledge over space than over time, particularly if the medium is light and easily transported. Innis believed that the overwhelming spatial bias of modern media was heightened in the United States by the development of powerful military technologies, including atomic weapons.

Innis devoted the remainder of his life to fleshing out these ideas, and toward comumnication end he began to explore the biases embedded in staples-driven communications systems. According to this view, certain social forms and situations encourage the development of new media; injis media, operating within existing situations, react back on society to produce a new cycle of change.


The development of “mechanized” communications media such as mass-circulation newspapers had shifted the balance decisively in favour of space and power, over time, continuity and knowledge. Comparatively, the media that have supported the military conquering of space have been lighter, so that the constraints of long distances could be lessened. Ted Turner buys RKO! He looked at media that led to the growth of an empire; those that sustained it during its periods of success, and then, the communications changes that hastened an empire’s collapse.

The Laurentian paradigm dominated Canadian history and social science from the s to the early s. This contributes to an understanding of the timelessness of economic phenomena — like “the business cycle is as old as the Nile River”. Apr 18, Kevin rated it really liked it.

Nov 10, Guy rated it it was amazing Shelves: MM rated it liked it Aug 14, Those who control knowledge have the power to define reality. Power was vested therefore, in a scribal and literate, religious elite.

The Bias of Communication by Harold A. Innis

Paper is such a medium; it is readily transported, but has a relatively short lifespan. Tom Dean rated it really liked it Sep 26, If you find the book slowing down, jump to the final chapter, “A Critical Review” for an ultimate synthesis of Innis’s ideas — which were completely groundbreaking and paradigm-shifting at the time of publication. For them memory is of crucial importance; they revere the wisdom of elders and favour concrete over abstract forms of thought.

The adaptability of the alphabet to large-scale machine industry became the basis of literacy, advertising and trade. After the war, Innis studied political economy at the University of Chicago where he did his Ph. Heyer writes that Empire and Communications received few reviews and they ranged from “lukewarm to negative”.

This site uses cookies. Then, universities could muster the courage to attack the monopolies that always imperil civilization. See also, Heyer, pp. In writing, the tendency is to isolate an aspect of some matter and to direct steady attention upon that aspect.

What Innis experienced during the war contradicted popular beliefs at home that the Canadian identity was a pale reflection of British imperialism and deepened his nationalist outlook. A monopoly control of communication defeated attempts to construct empires. Roy rated it really liked it Dec 21, Innis argued that a balance between the spoken word and writing contributed to the flourishing of ancient Greece in the time of Plato.


Media that emphasize space are apt to be less durable and light in character such as papyrus and paper. Books by Harold A. The limitations of the Egyptian empire were in part a result of the inflexibility of religious institutions supported by a monopoly over a complex system of writing. As a young professor at the University of Toronto, Innis was concerned that Canadians were being deluged with American material, so he set about to remedy that ckmmunication.

His reflections appear in separate chapters in his book Empire and Communications along with additional chapters on the combined effects of parchment and paper in the Middle Agesand paper and the printing press in the development of modern societies.

However, if you can make it through the book — you’ll vias deep insights into the way our modern communication system aka — The Internet functions and become more keen to the biases which result from its monopoly on space. Each medium has its bias, a bias which changes in relation to the significance of the others in the consciousness of cultures. The god of writing was closely related to the leading deities and reflected the power of the scribe over religion.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Plato conveyed his ideas by recording the conversations of Socrates. Place and placelessness E. Concentration on a medium of communication implies a bias in the cultural development of the civilization concerned either towards an emphasis on space and political organization or towards an emphasis on time and religious organization.

We can further bia our study of media by focusing on the monopolies of knowledge within any empire, and the potential for marginalized cultures to adopt new technologies in order to gain some leverage against more powerful nations.