Williams’ general tone in his seminal works is one of informed pessimism. While acknowledging some of the apparent benefits of digital media technology like film, television and the Internet, he expresses concern over concentration of power under a few major media conglomerates. He worry that the ‘transformative powers’ of television (during the middle of the century) and the Internet (by extrapolating to current times) are subverted for promoting consumer culture at huge costs to the individual and society. These concerns are quite real. A literature review of scholarly publication relating to the Public Relations industry reveals how advertisements exploit innate human psychology for meeting capitalist economic ends. Even McLuhan had earlier asserted how the knowledge of sense ratios and the sensorium are applied for particular commercial ends. As media technology becomes more powerful, the more entrapped human beings would become as consumers. In this milieu, commercial production and transaction would become the only avenues for defining culture. Chomsky’s views are congruent with this assessment. He notes how individuals become atomized and alienated from the community at large and their only method of self-identification is through the products they consume. Hence, as per scholarly consensus, powerful media technology can prove deleterious to culture as we understand it.
In conclusion, we see substantial scepticism about media technology in the works of Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams. McLuhan acknowledged the power of media technology to have profound cultural consequences, but only cursorily deals with underlying political and business interests. It is Williams who gives full expression to these dimension of media technology. To this extent Williams’ theories are more sociological than McLuhan’s. Therefore his theories are better equipped to help study media in all its dimensions. Though the technology behind television and the Internet are very different, the forces acting on cultural discourse within these media are the same. What emerges from a synthesis of the works of these scholars is that an understanding of the political economy of mass media is essential for proper understanding of the nature of cultural discourse that takes place within it.
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