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2: What is Political Economy?

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    This section explores various ideas connected to the notion of political economies of media. Political economy (PE) is an approach to studying media whose focus is attenuated towards the ways in which media is produced, distributed and consumed, rather than on analyzing the interpretations of the signs

    Definition: Signs

    A sign is something which can stand for something else – in other words, a sign is anything that can convey meaning. Iconic signs are signs where meaning is based on similarity of appearance.  Indexical signs have a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the sign and the meaning of the sign. Symbolic signs are signs that have an arbitrary or conventional link.

     and symbols found within texts. The combination of the terms "political" and "economy" which make up PE is an explicit reference to the fact that media texts are produced within specific and historically contingent systems which are not merely an ideologically neutral form of exchange, but are conditioned by a range of complex interactions between nation states, international organizations, legal institutions and frameworks, cultural traditions and heritages, other organizations (such as media corporations), technologies,

    Definition: Technologies

    One of the features which distinguish media from other types of communication is the technology that is necessary. These range from pen and paper, through printing presses, film, video, radio, television to digital technologies associated with the Internet.

    and economic pressures. In other words, PE focuses upon the ways in which politics and economics are not separate entities, as they are often treated, but that economics and politics are fields which are best understood as being entangled – meaning that they are functionally inseparable – and that understanding elements of this entanglement is pivotal to understanding the way that any society and culture works.


    Adapted text from Media & Society: Critical Approaches, used under a CC BY NC-SA 4.0 International license


    2: What is Political Economy? is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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