An eco-semiotic perspective on the development of neo-liberal communications and media policy in the UK

Richard Wise (University of Bedfordshire, UK)

The paper examines the development of neo-liberal communications & media policy in the UK & the U.S. from an eco-semiotic perspective, and the respective roles of technology and ideology in the formation of these policies. Drawing on the insights of, among others, Raymond Williams, Gregory Bateson and Anthony Wilden, this paper argues that the failure of the neo-liberal media project is due to deep flaws in its epistemological assumptions. These assumptions derive from the outdated psychological and cosmological ideas of the seventeenth century founders of political economy, such as the notion of human motivation as the desire for more pleasure and less pain, and a view of the market as a Newtonian balance of forces between supply and demand. These epistemological errors, it will be argued, result in irresolvable paradoxes: between the logic of markets and the logic of symbolic exchange; between the logic of transmission and the logic of content; between the logic of telecommunications and the logic of broadcasting. The consequence has been a dysfunctional global public communications system inimical to the interests of the citizens of a democratic polity. The paper concludes by arguing for a re-conceptualization of the media and communications industries.

Timing - Friday - Panel Session B2



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