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Communication, Thinking and Culture (Interview)

Communication, Thinking and Culture (Interview)

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« (…) a decisive shift has occurred in the emerging
conception of communication as a trans-discipline. Within
this new perspective the culture industries and mass
communications are identified with the new processes of
production and circulation of culture, which coincide with
technological innovations but also with new sensibilities,
forms of leisure and appropriation. (…) the expansion and
inter-penetration of cultural studies and communication is
not a fortuitous development. It responds to the
centrality of communication within processes of cultural
re-conversion associated to the new phase of
modernization in our countries as well as the crisis of
modernity experienced in the advanced industrial nations.
(…) There has been a rethinking of the relations between
politics and culture, linking the question of cultural
policies and the transformations in cultural politics at a
time when the latter play a significant role in the
constitution of social actors. In light of these
developments, the study of mass communication is no
longer a question of analyzing markets and consumption.
Rather, it is conceived as a strategic site for the
redefinition of the public and the construction of
democracy. »
« (…) a decisive shift has occurred in the emerging
conception of communication as a trans-discipline. Within
this new perspective the culture industries and mass
communications are identified with the new processes of
production and circulation of culture, which coincide with
technological innovations but also with new sensibilities,
forms of leisure and appropriation. (…) the expansion and
inter-penetration of cultural studies and communication is
not a fortuitous development. It responds to the
centrality of communication within processes of cultural
re-conversion associated to the new phase of
modernization in our countries as well as the crisis of
modernity experienced in the advanced industrial nations.
(…) There has been a rethinking of the relations between
politics and culture, linking the question of cultural
policies and the transformations in cultural politics at a
time when the latter play a significant role in the
constitution of social actors. In light of these
developments, the study of mass communication is no
longer a question of analyzing markets and consumption.
Rather, it is conceived as a strategic site for the
redefinition of the public and the construction of
democracy. »

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Published by: Jesús Martín Barbero on Oct 31, 2008
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05/09/2014

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www.mediaciones.net
CommunicationThinking and Culture
 
Interview withDr. Jesús Martín-Barbero
(by Adelaida Trujillo, The CommunicationInitiative,
www.cominit.com,
May, 1999)
 
« (…) a decisive shift has occurred in the emergingconception of communication as a trans-discipline. Withinthis new perspective the culture industries and masscommunications are identified with the new processes of production and circulation of culture, which coincide withtechnological innovations but also with new sensibilities,forms of leisure and appropriation. (…) the expansion andinter-penetration of cultural studies and communication isnot a fortuitous development. It responds to thecentrality of communication within processes of culturalre-conversion associated to the new phase of modernization in our countries as well as the crisis of modernity experienced in the advanced industrial nations.(…) There has been a rethinking of the relations betweenpolitics and culture, linking the question of culturalpolicies and the transformations in cultural politics at atime when the latter play a significant role in theconstitution of social actors. In light of thesedevelopments, the study of mass communication is nolonger a question of analyzing markets and consumption.Rather, it is conceived as a strategic site for theredefinition of the public and the construction of democracy. »
 
 
Communication,Thinking and Culture
2Jesús Martín-Barbero is considered one of the most distin-guished scholars of communication in Latin America. Herepresents a tradition of discourse in communication andculture that challenges dominant thinking and paradigms.Jesús Martín-Barbero has articulated some of the key issuesin Latin American communications thinking, placing co-mmunication and culture as essential pillars in any ap-proach to change in Colombia and the region. Many of thepeople most centrally involved in communication and so-cial change in Colombia, including many of those facilita-ting programmes profiled in The Drum Beat 21 – Colombia – have been Mr. Martín-Barbero’s students or followers of his thinking. In one of his many roles, Jesús Martín-Barberois today Fundación Social's Consultant for their Communi-cations and Politics Project.
1
Adelaida Trujillo talked withDr Jesús Martín-Barbero in May 1999 on behalf of TheCommunication Initiative. Excerpts from other discussionswith Dr Martín-Barbero, a bibliography of his writings, anda curriculum vitae profile follow this discussion. The discus-sion was conducted in Spanish and has been translated
.

 
Is it possible to say that Latin American communicationthinkers, those that are innovating in the field, have amore solid link to social change than those from aNorthern, First World tradition?
1
 
See The Drum Beat-21-Colombia for information on the FundaciónSocial.
 
 
 
www.mediaciones.net 
3
Yes, absolutely. This is one of the characteristics of com-munication thinking in the region, although it is not theonly one. Ever since research in this field began, in thecontemporary sense of the term, communication was reallynever the starting point. The starting point for scholars wasa political project. And, what they all shared was a pioneer-ing vision of the strategic and decisive place of communica-tion processes in building democracy in these countries, both in political and in social terms.I am talking about the seventies and thinking of the ‘fa-thers’, like Luis Ramiro Beltrán in Bolivia, Mattelart in Chi-le, Pasqualli in Venezuela, Mario Caprún the Uruguayan,Hector Schmuckler in Argentina, Bordenabe from Para-guay, amongst others. Publications like
 Lenguajes 
and
Comu-nicación y Cultura
are practically political projects per se. Soone can understand why Latin America pioneered in na-tional communication policies. These first thinkers placedLatin America in the foreground in
UNESCO
. It is this regionthat originates the proposal of a new world order for infor-mation and communication, as it is recorded in the Mac-Bride report.
2
 From the beginning, studies in communication werelinked to politics in, let's say, two senses. What we valued incommunication was its political content in the negativesense of domination, i.e., the
 great 
instrument for control....in such a way that when one spoke of cultural imperialismwe also meant ideological imperialism, and communicationwas spoken of as the great tool for non-democratic policies.And in the other sense, from the scholars point of view,there was always a project that led to policies, to state cul-tural and communication policies. The vision was of ‘poli-
 
2
 
One World, Multiple Voices 
, Sean MacBride,
UNESCO
.
 

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