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Harold Innis and Comparative Politics: A Critical Assessment

Amardeep Athwal
Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique
Vol. 37, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 259-280
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25165641
Page Count: 22
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Harold Innis and Comparative Politics: A Critical Assessment
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Abstract

This paper deals with the relevance and contributions of Harold Innis and his work on communications theory to important issues in the political science field of comparative politics. Analysts of comparative politics have largely ignored Innis' work, yet he addresses many of the central issues of concern for comparativists. Innis' work on communications theory, represented mainly by Empire and Communications and The Bias of Communication, addresses these central comparative issues from angles left largely unexplored by comparativists. Through his focus on media of communication and their resulting space- or time-bias impact, and by highlighting concepts such as monopolies of knowledge and space-time equilibrium, Innis can shed new light and can offer alternative explanations for comparative issues such as modernity, institutions, social movements and the rise and fall of civilizations. /// Cet article traite de la pertinence et de la contribution de Harold Innis, notamment son travail sur la théorie des communications, aux questions essentielles de la politique comparée. Les analystes de la politique comparée ont en grande partie ignoré le travail d'Innis, pourtant il appert que ce dernier aborde plusieurs des questions centrales aux comparativistes. Le travail d'Innis sur la théorie des communications, plus particulièrement Empire and Communications et The Bias of Communication, approche certains problèmes chers aux analystes de la politique comparée avec de nouvelles perspectives jusqu'alors largement inexplorées. Par son attention particulière sur les médias de la communication et leur résultant biais espace-temps, et en mettant de l'avant des concepts tels que les monopoles d'équilibre de la connaissance et de l'espace-temps, Innis est à même d'offrir des explications novatrices sur des enjeux tels que la modernité, les institutions, les mouvements sociaux et la naissance et le déclin des civilisations.

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