One of the most influential books ever published in Canada, Harold A. Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our. Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited but least understood of communication theorists. This is particularly. PROFESSOR INNIS has written a pioneering book and made a serious contrib nology, we can discover the specific “bias of communication” in each perio.

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Rejecting the thesis of American historian Frederick Jackson Turner as a key to Canada’s history, during the s and s he inis the framework for a new LaurentianSt. The pyramids, temples, bridges, and cathedrals of the world are still able to communicate something of their essential meaning to us today, if only we know how to decode their empire-building messages. The latest issue of the online academic journal Persona Studies is now available.

To find out more, including how to control cookies, innks here: Innis would, for example, be fascinated by the Nisga’a treaty negotiations in British Columbia, where a time-biased, marginalized and predominantly oral culture is attempting to communicate with a space-biased culture transfixed by the rule of written law.

Media that emphasize time are those durable in character such as parchment, clay and stone. University of Toronto Press, p.

The crisis facing the West was worsened, Innis argued, because communications monopolies that ran the media were largely immune from outside challenge. Space-biased media are more ephemeral.

Biographer John Watson warns against the tendency to apply Innis’s haold of media ‘bias’ in a mechanical or deterministic way. The shift of communicatkon redefines “knowledge,” what those in power claim needs to be known. Notify me of new comments via email. Account Options Sign in.

Harold Innis’s communications theories

For Innis, speech is a time-biased medium. Poe’s theory also predicts the effects the media will have on society by considering eight attributes of a medium: Those media that supported theocratic empires had relative durability as a major ijnis so that they could support the concepts of eternal life and endless dynasties.


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 jarold modern societies.

Materials that emphasize time favour decentralization and hierarchical types of institutions, while those that emphasize space favour centralization and systems of government less hierarchical in character.

He divided media into time-biased and space-biased types. Power was vested therefore, in a scribal and literate, religious elite. Western civilization could only be saved, Innis argued, by recovering the balance between space and time. At any given period, Innis argued, the pattern of Canadian economic development was based on the physical characteristics of a particular staple and the methods by which it was extracted and carried to distant markets.

For Innis, a survival strategy requires that we take “persistent action at strategic points against American imperialism in all its attractive disguises Use mdy dates from September All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from March In the beginning, which for Innis means Mesopotamia, there was clay, the reed stylus used to write on it, and the wedge-shaped cuneiform script. As yarold Innis and Michel Foucault have demonstrated, individuals or groups who control access to those points wield great power.

The priestly concern with time, supported hagold papyrus in this case, developed in the way it did because the monarchy in Egypt had gained effective control over space. Egypt followed suit, using papyrus, the brush, and hieroglyphic writing. Harold Innis examined the rise and fall of ancient empires as a way of tracing the conmunication of communications media.

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

Then, universities could muster the courage to attack the monopolies that always imperil civilization. If we consider that a society has a network of communications systems, we can see bais there are key junctures or nodal points where significant information is stored, and from where it is transmitted to other parts of the system.

The emphasis on change is the only permanent characteristic. Those who control knowledge have the power to define reality.


Harold Innis’s communications theories – Wikipedia

The ideal situation commubication course was to have a good balance of both types of media, but this only rarely happened in practice. The Dark Vision of Harold Innis. Monopolies of knowledge encourage centralization of power.

Interestingly, the reason for the complexity of this system of writing on papyrus is explained by several factors. Bizs University Press, p. Innis warned however, that such generalizations tended to obscure the differences between empires. European guns used in war and conquest, for example, enabled the indigenous peoples to hunt more efficiently, but led to the rapid destruction of their food supply and of the beaver they depended on to obtain European goods.

Conflicts over hunting territories led to warfare, made more deadly by European bullets. Innis often returns to the evolving drama of language as an important means of communication.

Harold Adams Innis: The Bias of Communications & Monopolies of Power

The cult of “production value” in design, recording, television, and Hollywood movies makes it difficult for lower budget artifacts to compete for attention. New allegiances are formed.

Juxtaposition of historical observations creates an interface for generating new insights. Think of the media blackout during the Gulf War, or to use Foucault’s example how confession is used to convey the moral teachings of the Roman Church. University of Toronto Press, pp. These are intended to carry stories and messages that last for many generations, but tend to reach limited audiences. Introduction of a second medium tends to check the bias of the first and to create conditions suited to the growth of empire.

He directly influenced Marshall McLuhan and continues to be a central figure in communications theory. In dialogue there is an equally natural interplay of multiple aspects of any matter.