Advertising – a Necessary “Elixir of Life” for Capitalism: On the Critique of the Political Economy of Advertising

  • Manfred Knoche University of Salzburg
Keywords: advertising, Critique of the Political Economy of the Media, capitalism


This contribution aims to lift the ideological veil of apologetics and pseudo-criticism on advertising with the help of a reality-based systematic analysis that contributes to a materialistic theory of advertising. The content-related and methodological basis of such a theory is a Critique of the Political Economy of Advertising oriented towards the critique of capitalism and academic knowledge originally presented by Karl Marx and current societal analyses based on it. In this context, the academic objective is to consider the economic, political, and societal functions of (media) advertising. In doing so, the elementary economic and ideological functions of advertising for the existence and further development of the market economy and capitalist economic and societal systems become recognisable. Advertising then no longer appears as a necessary evil but as a necessary "elixir of life” for the media industry, the economy, and capitalism as a whole. Based on the applied critical political-economic analysis, it becomes clear that on the level of capitalism as an economic and societal system, advertising thus contributes economically and ideologically to the stabilisation of the systemic foundations of capitalist societies (the capital-labour relationship, the regime of accumulation; the economic, societal, and political [advertising] functions of the media). It is shown that a Critique of the Political Economy of Advertising – especially from the point of view of the necessarily growing importance of advertising for media production – also contributes to the development of a Critique of the Political Economy of the Media.

Author Biography

Manfred Knoche, University of Salzburg

Manfred Knoche is Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies with a focus on Media Economics at the University of Salzburg in Austria. He studied journalism, sociology, political science and economics at the University of Mainz and the Free University of Berlin. He obtained his PhD (1978) and defended his habilitation (1981) at the Free University of Berlin. He was a research assistant in the years 1974-1979 and assistant professor for communications politics in Berlin in the years 1979-1983. From 1983 to 1994, he was Professor of Media and Communication Science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, where he was also the director of the Centre for Mass Communications Research. From 1994-2009 he held the chair professorship in media economics at the University of Salzburg in Austria, where he was Director of the Media Economics Group at the Department of empirical Media and Communication Studies. He chaired the German Association for Media and Communication Studies’ (DGPuK) Media Economics-section. He is the author of many publications on the Critique of the Political Economy of the Media. His work has especially focused on the critique of the political economy of media concentration and the media industry’s structural transformations.,

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