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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The new media allow those on the periphery to develop and consolidate power, and ultimately to challenge the authority of the centre. Those media that supported theocratic empires had relative durability as a major characteristic so that they could support the concepts of eternal life and endless dynasties.

At any given period, Innis argued, innls 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. Those cultures made powerful through their former monopolies of knowledge based on film, print, or television become vulnerable to the attacks of cultures which make use of new communications technologies.

The book as a specialized product of printing and, in turn, the newspaper strengthened the position of language as a basis of nationalism.

Inninis rapid adoption of music-sharing software like Napster provoked an immediate reaction from both the recording industry and the law-makers. He writes that Innis “emphasizes, in dealing with concrete historical casesthe necessity of a balance of various media whose predispositions [or biases] complement each other to make for a successful imperial project.


In his presidential address to the Royal Society of CanadaInnis remarked: The heavy materials are suited to the development of architecture and sculpture.

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

First published inthis masterful collection of essays explores the relationship between a And by the same token, a sociocultural system with effective time-binding media in place may naturally become concerned about its space-binding powers and necessarily focus on them. Poe’s theory also predicts the effects the media will have on society by considering eight attributes of a medium: Then, universities could muster the courage to attack the monopolies that always imperil civilization.

For Blondheim, this mastery of space prompted a civilisational awareness of the lack of concern with time, and a civilisational attempt to find a new medium that would enable it to address this problem. He went on to write books on the cod fisheries, the dairy industry, and the wheat industry.

Utilization of its periodic floods depended on the unified control of an absolute authority. For them memory is of crucial importance; they revere the wisdom of elders and favour concrete over abstract forms of thought.

The scribe had the full qualifications of a special profession and was included in the upper classes of kings, priests, nobles and generals, in contrast with peasants, fishermen, artisans and labourers. The Bias of Communication. Account Options Sign in. Biographer John Watson warns against the tendency to apply Innis’s concept of media ‘bias’ in a mechanical or deterministic way.

The advent of the Cold War led to such an emphasis on military preparedness that the U. Place and placelessness E. Advantages accrue to those who have the knowledge first. In his essay, A Plea for Timehe suggested that genuine dialogue within universities could produce the critical thinking necessary to restore the balance between power and knowledge.


To begin our inquiry into this area, he suggests we ask three basic questions: Thus we learn from Innis that all great empires are most vulnerable in the moment of their over-reaching. The scientific community lobbies not only for a pre-eminent status for the objectivity of knowledge, but also advocates a rigid method for obtaining that knowledge.

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

The practice of his communication… Persona Studies Vol 2 No 2: See also, Heyer, pp. Writing was a difficult and specialized art requiring long apprenticeship, and reading implied a long period of instruction. To begin our inquiry into this area, he suggests we ask three basic questions:. Innis considers the “significance of communication to the rise and decline of cultural traits” 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.

What assumptions do they take from and contribute to society? Arthur Kroker suggests that Innis “sought to inniz the interstices of the technological habitat.

A,” Innis concluded that the United States depended on a foreign policy shaped by military power.