Abstract. Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited but least understood of communication theorists. This is particularly true in. PROFESSOR INNIS has written a pioneering book and made a serious contrib nology, we can discover the specific “bias of communication” in each perio. Download Citation on ResearchGate | Harold Innis and “the bias of communication | Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited.

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Paper is such a medium; it is readily transported, but has a relatively short lifespan. Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory. On the other hand, societies that depend on space-biased media such as printed newspapers and books tend to favour abstract thought and control over space.

The Bias of Communication

These are intended to carry stories and messages that last for many generations, but tend to reach limited audiences. Their monopoly of knowledge depended on their control over the production of the time-binding medium of parchment useful for preserving hand-copied manuscripts written in Latin. Frenchfold rated it really liked it Dec 03, Mihajlo Krivokuca rated it it was amazing Sep 18, Most writers are occupied in providing accounts of the content of philosophy, science, libraries, empires, and religions.

No trivia or quizzes yet. They include modern media such as radio, television, and mass circulation newspapers that convey information to many people over long distances, but have short exposure times. The works of Harold Innis are seminal in the study of Canadian history; the essays in this volume continue to generate intense dabate among historians, communications scholars, and media theorists. What assumptions do they take from and contribute to society? By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


Innis suggests that the media adopted by a particular civilization will shape the “character of knowledge” transmitted by that culture, not only in the original sending, but also in our eventual reception.

Concentration on a medium of communication implies a bias in the cultural development of the civilization concerned either towards an th on space and political organization or towards an emphasis on time and religious organization. Innis examined each empire to discover how time-binding and space-binding media contributed to the necessary balance between power and knowledge and among ruling groups — religious, political and military.

Thus we learn from Innis that all great empires are most vulnerable in the moment of their over-reaching.

What forms of power do they encourage? 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.

Innis makes it quite clear that the character of this writing is what made it amenable to the creation of a monopoly over knowledge Empirep28 Writing was a difficult and specialized art requiring long apprenticeship, and reading implied a long period of instruction…. Societies that depend solely on time-biased inniss are oral and tribal.

Thus did civilization arise, along with an elite group of scribe priests who eventually codified laws. Innis traces the histories of parchment, paper and printing in his book’s final chapters, pp. But the space-binding medium of paper imported from China, Innis wrote, facilitated challenges from Islam and later from tge rising commercial class. Innis extended the economic concept of monopoly to include culture and politics.


Harold Adams Innis: The Bias of Communications & Monopolies of Power

He establishes a dialectic between media with a time-bias and those tthe a space-bias:. Heyer writes that Empire and Communications received few reviews and they ranged from “lukewarm to negative”. Space-biased media are more ephemeral. Erinc rated it it was biass May 11, Each medium has its bias, a bias which changes in relation to the significance of the others in the consciousness of cultures. Monopolies of knowledge derive their power from several sources: Success of the monarchy in acquiring control over Egypt in terms of space necessitated a concern with problems of continuity over time” Ted Turner buys RKO!

He concludes from this that the “relative emphasis on time or space will imply a bias of significance to the culture in which it is embedded” Juxtaposition of historical observations creates an interface for generating new insights. The first model is militaristic and concerned with the biss of space.

Empire and Communicationsand The Bias of Communication