Editorial

Marjorie Ferguson (University of Maryland)

Rowland Lorimer

The papers included in this issue derive from two thematic panel sessions that were organized by Guest Editor Marjorie Ferguson at the May 1997 meetings of the International Communications Association (ICA) in Montreal. The impetus for these two sessions was twofold. The first came from Ferguson's realization, as a Canadian teaching in the U.S., of the scant recognition given to Canadian communications scholarship, especially its solid record of work on technology, policy, and cultural issues, and the long shadow cast by its two most illustrious exponents, Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan. This reality exists in spite of the close attention that McLuhan and Innis have been given by leading American scholars, some of whom are contributors to this volume. The second panel highlighted the growing importance of what had once been regarded as a quintessentially Canadian concern: questions about the globalization of audiovisual media and issues of collective identity.

The poignancy of both these themes, the distinction of the contributors, and the calibre of the papers delivered at the ICA meetings motivated CJC editor Rowland Lorimer to invite Marjorie Ferguson to join him as guest editor for this issue.

In the course of bringing these papers together some interesting cross-currents have emerged. For instance, the resonance of the historic contributions of McLuhan and Innis with the contemporary concerns of communications scholars is quite powerful. In particular, the topic and label "globalization" connects powerfully with McLuhan's 1960s metaphor of a "global village." Likewise, questions about communication and collective identity owe much to Innis' pioneering political economy and the links between Canada's trade and transportation system and the politics of collective identity. The papers themselves are rich with insight.

Among his many achievements, James Carey can include making Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan comprehensible for many communications students and scholars. At a time when their work was being dismissed either as opaque or irrelevant, Carey made it make sense. In his contribution to this publication, Carey reviews what we have inherited, largely unconsciously, from McLuhan. Some of what Carey claims will surprise many communications students, if not scholars, and will, no doubt, cause some who have not done so already to reconsider the depth of McLuhan's insights.

Elihu & Ruth Katz are major contributors to communication studies. Their work is frequently cited as foundational to the opening and reconsideration of basic questions in the field. Their essay in this volume reflects why their work has had such power. It explores the relation of McLuhan's ideas to those of other major scholars in both communications and social-scientific and humanistic thought. The essay gives a sense not only of McLuhan but also of the purview of the authors.

Bill Buxton's essay explores Harold Innis' work on communications from a foundation in Innis' unpublished manuscript, "History of Communication." Buxton underlines how Innis' generalizations about media were derived from his examination of printing and newspaper publishing and were linked to his analysis of modernity. This, Buxton emphasizes, is quite different from the more common conception of Innis as a general media theorist who applied his analyses of "how space- and time-binding media serve to bias societies and civilizations" to particular media.

David Morley's "Media Fortress Europe" might seem at first glance to have little relation to McLuhan / Innis scholarship. Not so. It takes the quintessential Innisian / McLuhanesque theme, the cultural organization of physical space, and brings it forward into modern Europe. The essay provides insight into our understanding of the dynamics involved in this process and the forces that are shaping Europe.

Echoes of the dynamics considered by Morley are to be found in Fred Fletcher's contribution. Fletcher's central concern is to suggest a research agenda to explore the impact of globalization on political identity in Canada and Quebec. However, his discussion of the political identities of the two communities provides a sense of the tensions within Canadian society and their interaction with the forces of globalization. In fact, while Canada's dual media systems are founded on a desire to affirm those two linguistic communities, as Fletcher points out, we have very little understanding of the operation of Canada's two media systems in the context of production and reception and therefore little foundation for the development of effective policies to preserve a democratic public space in the era of globalization.

Silvio Waisbord also extends our exploration of globalization in his analysis of the interaction of the global and the national in the context of Latin America. Waisbord explores how political, technological, and intellectual variables have come together to downplay concern with the impact of global media. Given the vibrancy of the national, he considers whether national audiovisual policies might be used as instruments to foster political pluralism and cultural diversity.



  •  Announcements
    Atom logo
    RSS2 logo
    RSS1 logo
  •  Current Issue
    Atom logo
    RSS2 logo
    RSS1 logo
  •  Thesis Abstracts
    Atom logo
    RSS2 logo
    RSS1 logo

We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

SSHRC LOGO