Sunday, September 13, 2009

Innis' Insights

Soules says that Innis anticipated Foucault's archeologies and discussions of power and indeed he did, and I would add that he also seems to have anticipated Stallybrass & White's 1986 observations about 'the power of the periphery', as I like to call it. Stallybrass & White were writing about the concept of the grotesque/carnivalesque, when they wrote that “…what is socially peripheral is so frequently symbolically central.” In this case they meant that the social and moral peripherals established and reinforced what was 'other' or taboo in a society or culture and simultaneously made clear what was 'normal' , but they were also talking about the way that these peripheries often, eventually, find their way to the center of things in the end.

The Innis article tells us that "change came from the margins of society, since people on the margins invariably developed their own media" that "allow those on the periphery to develop and consolidate power, and ultimately challenge the authority of the state" (Innis piece). Perhaps an 'Innis version' of Stallybrass & White's observations would be to say that "“…what is socially peripheral, when coupled with new media technology to enable its dissemination, so frequently becomes central, and not just symbolically.

We can see an example of this in the young Iranians' use of twitter and other social networking media during the elections, or in the growing popularity of blogger journalists and other citizen journalists that operate outside of 'state-sanctioned' media circles or venues. New technology makes way for voices and viewpoints that are either physically peripheral or have been pushed into the periphery and to silence by those more powerful. Or, as the Soules writes, "New media threaten to displace the previous monopolies of knowledge, unless those media can be enlisted in the service of the previous power structures" (Soules, 1996).

1 comment:

  1. And this new media, in the case of the Iranians, can quickly be assimilated - as the government deployed bloggers to pose as 'citizens' on their side.