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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The Byzantine empire emerged from a fusion of a bias incidental to papyrus in relation to political organization and of parchment in relation to ecclesiastical organization.

While in France, he was seriously wounded.

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

He went on to write books on the cod fisheries, the dairy industry, and the wheat industry. New allegiances are formed. Yet, many now see it as a Canadian classic because it “has sufficient detail in its analysis and originality to be regarded as a landmark book. His reflections appear in separate chapters in his book Empire and Communications along with additional chapters on the combined effects of parchment and paper in the Middle Agesand paper and the printing press in the development of modern societies.

Political Persona The latest issue of the online academic journal Persona Studies is now available.

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

Comparatively, the media that have supported the military conquering of space have been lighter, so that the constraints of long distances communidation be lessened. Mastery of Complexity creates a hierarchy of professionals and amateurs. Media that emphasize time are those durable in character such as parchment, clay and stone. Societies that depend solely on time-biased media are oral and tribal. More significantly than this, though, is the source of that monopoly.

Most writers are occupied in providing accounts of the content lf philosophy, science, libraries, empires, and religions.


These are intended communicattion carry stories and messages that last for many generations, but tend to reach limited audiences. Latin written on parchment, the medium of the Christian Church, was attacked through the secular medium of vernaculars written on paper. And only one of them is the bias of specific communications towards time and hraold. 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.

Innis wrote that the Catholic Church fought to preserve its time-oriented monopoly of knowledge with the Inquisitioninnos eventually paper achieved even greater power with the invention of the printing press around the middle of the 15th century.

Time-biased media facilitate the development of social hierarchies, as archetypally exemplified by ancient Egypt. Just harlld Egyptian priests were able to accurately predict the regular flooding of the Nile because knowledge of writing allowed them to make calculations, so does access to pubic opinion allow pollsters to predict elections within certain percentage parameters.

Technology and the Canadian Mind: They are associated with secular and territorial societies; they facilitate the expansion of empire over space. Those who monopolize knowledge are also in a position to define what is legitimate knowledge. Instability resulting from a lack of balance between time- and space-biased media, and agitation from the margins of the empire can equally drive social change.

Although leadership tends to be hierarchical, time-bound societies may also operate by consensus. Its influence is still reflected in the work of Canadian scholars most skeptical about America’s cold war leadership.

Short cuts of magic and religion were entrenched in writing as the occupation of a respectable learned profession in the ruling class. The Dark Vision of Harold Innis.

This is still problematic. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Harold Innis’s communications theories

The communicafion illiterate laity depended on priests to interpret the scriptures and on image-driven media such as paintings and statues that depicted the central figures in Biblical stories.


The Protestant Reformation followed, along with European exploration and empire, the rise of science and the evolution of innis nation-state. Account Options Sign in. Then, universities could muster the courage to attack the monopolies that always imperil civilization.

Once it becomes conscious of and concerned about this deficiency and its dangers, it will invest considerable efforts to generate time-binding media.

Innis extended the economic concept of monopoly to include culture and politics. For Innis, the organization of empires seems to follow two major models. From the thousand page manuscript which he left at his death came his two pioneering communications works: Globe and MailSept.

A History of Communication: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet. Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory.

Monopolies of Knowledge When fascism comes to America, it will come in the form of democracy. The emphasis on change is the only permanent characteristic. He establishes a dialectic between media with a time-bias and those with a space-bias: It is often a question of balance. The book as a specialized product of printing and, in turn, the newspaper strengthened the position of language as a basis bisa nationalism.

The first model is militaristic and concerned with the conquest of space. Innis first outlined his ideas in The Fur Trade in Canada Why do you think he says that? Harold Innis’s analysis of the effects of communications on the rise and fall of empires led him, in the end, to warn grimly hsrold Western civilization was now facing its own profound crisis.

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