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The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications by Janet Wasko, Graham Murdock, Helena Sousa

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6

The Media Amid Enterprises, the Public, and the State

New Challenges for Research

Giuseppe Richeri

The media are complex to study because they are composed of diverse elements which constitute both their content and their vehicle, that is, the information and the means of transmitting it. Their character and functioning are an important field of study because the media are becoming increasingly important in the structure and evolution of society. They have an impact on the functioning of democracy and public institutions, on individuals’ work and living conditions, on the construction of identity, on the inclusion and the social participation of every citizen in his or her own community of reference, and on the inequalities and the imbalances of its components.

The study of the relations between media and society has a long tradition and has provided social forces, their political expressions, and states with keys for the interpretation and direction of regulatory activities and the promotion of reform. Research in this field, however, is constantly being confronted with a spiral as the media system changes continually due to directions and rhythms that are principally determined by the evolution of social relations (political, economic, or cultural). The media in turn exercise a growing influence on the evolution of social relations and on the social ties of many individuals, to the point of becoming, in many cases, a fundamental element of this evolution. An approach to studying ...

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