What, if anything, has political economy contributed to our understanding of cultural production?

Essay by katerina729University, Bachelor's December 2003

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What, if anything, has political economy contributed to our understanding of cultural production?

The political economy perspective has made a prevalent contribution to our understanding of cultural production. From a political economist perspective, cultural practices in society are the product of economic relations, as emphasised by Marx, "The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life" (Marx quoted by Murdock and Golding in J. Curran et al 1977: 17). They stress that society is characterised by domination and subordination in its relation to the means of production. Those who own the means of material production also have the power to control the production of culture through cultural industries to preserve their own interests, and, while the political economists do not propose that economics is the only factor shaping cultural production, they do stress that it is clearly the most significant.

Therefore, in this essay I shall look to ascertain the impact political economy has had on our understanding of cultural production and whether cultural production is merely the product of economic relations.

I will look at the work of Peter Golding and Graham Murdock and analyse their work on "Ideology and the Mass Media" (Golding and Murdock in Barrett et al 1979: 198) and assess their claim that the economic organisation and the dynamics of the mass media production determine the eventual content output. I will also look at the work of Adorno and Horkheimer on "culture industries" (K. Negus in Du Gay 1997: 70) to analyse the impact of cultural industries in determining the media output and the impact that has on the production and consumption of cultural practices. I shall also look at the cultural industry of the institutions of music and explore how the economic dynamics shapes the...