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The contributions of Innis and McLuhan to the study of communications are significant in a third respect. In analyzing the impact of the media themselves rather than the effect of the messages they convey, they introduced into mass-media research, as it developed after World War II in the U.S.A., the materiality of the object in its technical characteristics, the conditions of its production and use, and its integration in space and time. We find in the works of neither scholar the foundations of a theory of innovation or a theory of how information and communication technologies are used socially. Everett Rogers’ diffusionism, the translation theory of Callon and Latour, the contemporary theories of appropriation, and the communication-for-development theory are not the direct descendants of the work of the two Canadian researchers. But because of the publications of Innis and McLuhan in the 50s and 60s, it is no longer possible to consider media as neutral instruments, suitable for all purposes and in all circumstances. Even without sharing the premise of technological determinism, we cannot think of media as merely the means to something else. The works of Innis and McLuhan have definitively established that each medium offers a specific configuration of opportunities and constraints that any theory of communications should take into account.

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Harold Innis (1894-1952)
Works Cited
Harold Innis is a Canadian economist
Born 1894
Otterville
and died in 1952 in
Toronto
Taught at a school in an Albertan farming community
Western grievances over high interest rates and transportation costs
Fought in WWI as an artillery signaler in the
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Interest in empire-building nations and relationship between empire and marginalized colonial nations
Master of Arts at
McMaster University
PhD in Political Economy at
University of Chicago
Influenced him to become an economist
Christian, William.

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ABSTRACT The author presents a personal reading of the pioneering contribution to communication studies made by two Canadian thinkers: Marshall McLuhan and Harold A. Innis. Running counter to the general trend stressing their similarities, he highlights their differences. Rejecting their techological-determinist standpoint, the author proposes a comprehensive and critical summary of their analytical frameworks and methodologies, seeking to assess the influence they have had on his own perspective, tracing the contributions they have made to the evolution of communication research. The author’s viewpoint is condensed in the title: we should go back from McLuhan to Innis, from a framework inspired by the global-village metaphor to one based on the expansion of empire.

Empire and Communications. This book is a member of the special collection Special Collection: The Works of Harold Adams Innis (1894-1952) Book Details
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The Intellectual Courage of Harold Innis - VoegelinView

Essays and criticism on Harold Adams Innis - Critical Essays

From Marshall McLuhan to Harold Innis, or From the …