Critical Political Economy of Communication and the Problem of Method

from Marx and the Political Economy of Media, edited by Christian Fuchs and Vincent Mosco. Brill

Link to Draft

This chapter argues that the quality that defines critical political economy is its critical method. Definitions of the critical political economy of communication are considered and shown to focus on specific theoretical concerns while not fully addressing the fundamental issue of a critical method. A critical method for Marx is a historical materialist dialectical method, thus this paper argues for a deeper consideration of the Marxist dialectical method in relation to critical political-economic theorizing of communication. Sources for methodological development from Marx to 20th-century Western Marxists are outlined. The potential contribution of the Marxist dialectical method to the continued development of the critical political economy of communication is demonstrated by showing the possibility of developing a critical political economy of communication as capital focused on the central role of exploiting audience labour by controlling the conditions of cultural consumption and signification.

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