Some Theoretical Foundations of Critical Media Studies: Reflections on Karl Marx and the Media

Christian Fuchs


Marshall McLuhan and Jean Baudrillard have claimed that Marx had nothing important to say on media, communication, and culture. The approach taken in this paper is different: It is argued that Marx should be considered as one of the founding figures of critical media and communication studies and that his works can be applied today to explain phenomena such as global communication, knowledge labour, media and globalization, media and social struggles, alternative media, media capital accumulation, media monopolies, media capital concentration, the dialectics of information, and media and war. The works of Karl Marx are systematically reconstructed to identify aspects of the media and communication. This reconstruction is based on Marx’s circuit of capital. It is shown that Marx provided important insights for analyzing the role of the media in commodity and ideology production, circulation, and consumption and for discussing the role of alternative media production, circulation, and reception. Therefore, it is concluded that Marx provided important groundwork for media and communication theory that could be connected to the hypotheses of contemporary critical media and communication theories.

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