Revisiting the Political Economy of Communication

  • Nicholas Garnham University of Westminster
  • Christian Fuchs University of Westminster, Communication and Media Research Institute
Keywords: political economy of communication, cultural studies, media and communication studies, cultural materialism, sociology of culture, Raymond Williams, Pierre Bourdieu, political economy vs. cultural studies, information society, Karl Marx, capitalism


This tripleC contribution is based on a  research seminar that took place at the University of Westminster on January 22, 2014. It featured a conversation with Nicholas Garnham that was chaired by Christian Fuchs. We publish here both the audio-recording as well as a printed version, for which the audio version acted as foundation, but that was entirely re-written.
The task of the paper and the seminar was to revisit some of Nicholas Garnham’s ideas, writings and contributions to the study of the Political Economy of Communication and to reflect on the concepts, history, current status and perspectives of this field and the broader study of political economy today. The topics covered include Raymond Williams’ cultural materialism, Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of culture, the debate between Political Economy and Cultural Studies, information society theory, Karl Marx’s theory and the critique of capitalism.

Author Biographies

Nicholas Garnham, University of Westminster
After studying English Literature at Cambridge University, Nicholas Garnham worked from 1963-70 in Television as film editor and film director. He joined the Polytechnic of Central London (that is now the University of Westminster) in 1972 to teach filmmaking and film theory. In 1974 he was made head of the newly created Department of Communications and headed the team that created the first Media Studies degree in the UK in 1975. He is founding editor of the journal Media, Culture and Society. In 1986 he founded the Centre for Communication and Information Studies (CCIS) – that today is the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) – and remained its director until he retired from the University of Westminster in 2002. In 1987 he started with William Melody the annual European Communication Policy Research Conference. Since 2002, Nicholas Garnham is Emeritus Professor of Media Studies, University of Westminster.
Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster, Communication and Media Research Institute
Christian Fuchs is professor at the University of Westminster's Communication and Media Research Institute. He is editor of tripleC: Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. He holds a venia docendi in the field of ICTs and society.
His research interests are: critical theory, social theory, Internet and society, social media and society, media and society, ICTs and society, information society theory/research, political economy. He is author of many publications in these fields.
Reflections (Non Peer-Reviewed)