Historians of communication and media studies have never been very interested in technology, but surely there is thinking about technology in media studies, even if it is not often explicit. Consider the case of uses and gratifications research as developed by Herta Herzog and later elaborated by Elihu Katz, which tended to regard psychological and sociological variables as real and primary, and the media as a second-hand factor and manifestation of those variables. Does this approach not contain the assumption that media technologies are merely technical things used to accomplish certain ends? And consequently, that these things are value-neutral—that technological objects do not play a primary role in culture? Consider the case of Harold A. Innis: Does he deserve the pejorative “technological determinist” for emphasizing that the specific technological characteristics of a prevalent medium in a given society condition the social practices of communication, institutions, and systems of social organization and power? Is it plausible to think that certain technologies might themselves have political properties?
- History of Communication
- Media Research