Marx is Back, But Which One? On Knowledge Labour and Media Practice

  • Vincent Mosco Queen's University, Department of Sociology
Keywords: Grundrisse, journalism, labor, Marx, political economy


The global economic crisis has led to a resurgence of interest in the work of Karl Marx. This paper acknowledges this interest, but asks on which of the many shades of Marx, communication scholars should be focusing their research attention. The most general answer is all of Marx, from the early work on consciousness, ideology and culture, which has informed critical cultural studies through to the later work on the structure and dynamics of capitalism that provides bedrock for the political economy of communication. But there is particular need for communication scholars to pay more attention to work that does not fit so neatly in either of these foci, namely, Marx of the Grundrisse and Marx, the professional journalist. Communication scholars need to do so because we have paid insufficient attention to labour in the communication, cultural and knowledge industries. The Marx of these two streams of work provides important guidance for what I have called the labouring of communication as well as for addressing general problems in communication theory.

Author Biography

Vincent Mosco, Queen's University, Department of Sociology
Vincent Mosco is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Queen's University where he was Canada Research Chair in Communication and Society. Professor Mosco graduated from Georgetown University (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 1970 and received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University in 1975. He is the author of six books and editor or coeditor of nine books on communication, technology, and society. His most recent books include "The Laboring of Communication" (co-authored with Catherine McKercher, Lexington Books, 2008), "Knowledge Workers in the Information Society"; (co-edited with Catherine McKercher, Lexington Books, 2007), "The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace"; (MIT Press, 2004), which won the 2005 Olson Award for outstanding book in the field of rhetoric and cultural studies, and "Continental Order? Integrating North America for Cybercapitalism"; (co-edited with Dan Schiller, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2001). Professor Mosco is a member of the editorial boards of academic journals in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has held research positions in the U.S. government with the White House Office of Telecommunication Policy, the National Research Council and the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment and in Canada with the Federal Department of Communication. He has also been a longtime research associate of the Harvard University Program on Information Resources Policy. In 2004 Professor Mosco received the Dallas W. Smythe Award for outstanding achievement in communication research and in 2000 he was awarded one of three teacher of the year awards given by the Carleton University Student Association. Professor Mosco is currently working on a project funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council that addresses knowledge and communication workers in a global information society. The results are reported in a special expanded issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication which he edited with Professor Catherine McKercher (October, 2006), in Knowledge Workers in the Information Society (co-edited with Catherine McKercher, Lexington Books, 2007) and in The Laboring of Communication (co-written with Catherine McKercher, Lexington Books, 2008). He has also completed a second edition of The Political Economy of Communication (Sage 2009) and has co-edited Getting the Message: Communication Workers and Global Value Chains (with Ursula Huws and Catherine McKercher, 2010).
Marx is Back-The Importance of Marxist Theory and Research for Critical Comm. Studies Today, ed C. Fuchs & Vincent Mosco