One of the most influential books ever published in Canada, Harold A. Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our. Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited but least understood of communication theorists. This is particularly. PROFESSOR INNIS has written a pioneering book and made a serious contrib nology, we can discover the specific “bias of communication” in each perio.

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Harold Innis’ bias of communications – a starting point, not a foundation

Innis tests the oral form as it reacts in many different written cultures, just as he tests the effects of time-structured institutions in their varieties of contact with space-oriented societies” x. Rejecting the thesis of American historian Frederick Jackson Turner as a key to Canada’s history, during the s and s he articulated the framework for a new LaurentianSt.

Control of Raw Materials for Media: Globe and MailSept. How do specific communication technologies operate?

The dominance of parchment in the West gave a bias toward ecclesiastical organization, which led to the introduction of paper, with its bias toward political organization.

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Ability to Afford High Costs: The encounter of European traders from the imperial centres of France and Britain with the aboriginal tribes of North America that Innis chronicled in The Fur Trade in Canada is a poignant example of what can happen when two different civilizations meet one traditional and oriented to preserving its tribal culture in time and the other bent on spreading its influence over long distances.

You are commenting using your Twitter account. The emphasis on change is the only permanent characteristic. For Innis, speech is a time-biased medium.

Monopolies of knowledge encourage centralization of power. For his first book, The History of the Fur Trade in Canadahe retraced many of the routes of the early fur traders. He looked at media that led to the growth of an empire; those that sustained it during its periods of success, and then, the communications changes that hastened an empire’s collapse.

Harold Innis examined the rise and fall of ancient empires as a way of tracing the effects of communications media. Power was vested therefore, in a scribal and literate, religious elite. Over and over, Innis juxtaposes the need for continuity with the need for claiming territory, a balance of concerns central to the enterprise of empire building, and significantly determined by media of communication: In his presidential address to the Royal Society of CanadaInnis remarked: According to Harold Innis, monopolies of knowledge eventually face challenges to their power, especially with the arrival of new media.


The first is due to the character of the original medium used for writing: From the thousand page manuscript which he left at his death came his two pioneering communications works: The ideal situation of course was to have a good balance of both types of media, but this only rarely happened in practice. During his work on political economy, Innis developed the staples thesiswhich asserted that the Canadian economy tended to rely on the production of single commodities: Innis elaborated on his distinctions between time-biased and space-biased media in Empire and Communications:.

Ted Turner buys RKO! The Laurentian paradigm dominated Canadian history and social science from the s to the early s.

The Bias of Communication – Harold Adams Innis – Google Books

Harold Innis’s analysis of the effects of communications on the rise and fall of empires led him, in the end, to warn grimly that Western civilization was now facing its own profound crisis.

Innis believed that innls overwhelming spatial bias of modern media was heightened in the United States by the development of hias military technologies, including atomic weapons.

It will develop a concern or a bias toward time. Political Persona The latest issue of the online academic journal Persona Studies is now available.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. He proposed that new media are “pulled” into existence by organized interests after inventors have already developed the technology, or prototypes of the technology, necessary to support the media. The bias of communication Harold Adams Innis Snippet view – The latter are suited to innos areas in administration and trade.

Time-biased media facilitate the development of social hierarchies, as archetypally exemplified by ancient Egypt.

Harold Innis’s communications theories – Wikipedia

Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory. The invention of the calendar becomes a way to extend an empire over both time and space if the right spin is put on its meaning.


Theodore Roosevelt mastered the newspaper as a communications device, just as his fifth cousin, Franklin D. First published inthis masterful collection of essays explores the relationship between a society’s communication media and that community’s ability to maintain control over its development.

Innis is telling us that if a sociopolitical system is shaped to be effective in its control over, say, space, its problem becomes time; it is threatened by discontinuity.

Each medium has its bias, a bias which changes in relation to the significance of the others in the consciousness of cultures. A lifelong student of political economy, Harold Innis became an internationally prominent social scientist and chief architect of the staples interpretation of Canadian history.

This interplay of aspects can generate insights or discovery” vii. The new media allow those on the periphery to develop and consolidate power, and ultimately to challenge the authority of the centre.

Relph Snippet view – Biass first model is militaristic and concerned with the conquest of space. Concentration on a medium of communication implies a bias in the cultural development of the civilization concerned either towards an emphasis on space and political organization or towards an emphasis on time and religious organization.

He also believed that change came from the margins of society, since people on the margins invariably developed their own media. In writing, the tendency is to isolate an aspect of some inniis and to direct steady attention upon that haropd. What forms of power do they encourage? As Paul Heyer explains:. A History of Communication: He divided media into time-biased and space-biased types.

It would thus be a mistake to consider Innis a technological determinist: It is really the “monopolies of knowledge” which are at stake in the longevity of empires.