This summer school has an ECTS accreditation at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). You can receive 10 ECTS points, which will be awarded upon full completion of the course. See below for the full description of the programme.
Please note that only PhD students can receive ECTS points upon course completion, which entails a submitted research paper, paper presentation and full-week active participation in the course.
MA students can receive a certificate of attendance from Faculty of Social Sciences, but cannot receive ECTS.
You are kindly asked to note in your application that you wish to receive ECTS.
Syllabus Summer School Political Economies of the Media
Accepted extended abstract of the paper OR accepted motivation letter; Curriculum Vitae; 6,000-9,000 word research paper delivered by the start of the summer school (for full ECTS credits).
Applicants will be admitted if they are eligible according to their current study level and fulfilment of academic criteria (students in the final stages of their MA studies or PhD students; basic prior knowledge of the critical political economy approach; accepted extended abstract or accepted motivation letter as a prerequisite for registration to the summer school).
Content (Syllabus outline)
Political economy is one of the central research traditions in communication studies and a key approach for critical assessments of the media as industries, which form an increasingly prominent part of the global capitalist system. Political economy approach and other closely related research traditions (critical theory, critical media sociology, critical cultural studies) are providing the foundations of the summer school, which is intended for early career scholars already acquainted with the basic knowledge of these approaches.
The media (broadly conceived as ranging from traditional printed press to algorithms and software) underwent enormous restructuring through neoliberal policies since the 1970s. The introduction of new communication technologies such as satellite television and most prominently the Internet, went hand in hand with market liberalisation and commodification of communication. Multiplication of communication channels and media outlets was accompanied by concentration and centralisation of their ownership. Recently, large transnational digital platforms have solidified their position as core companies within contemporary capitalism, restructuring the distribution of media advertising investments, speeding up the circulation of capital, automating global consumption patterns, avoiding national taxes, and siphoning revenues to offshore entities. At the same time, these institutions are benefitting from the algorithmic gathering of information and automated management of their diversified and largely precarious workforces of content moderators, warehouse workers, and gig workers, as well as from software inputs from FLOSS (Free/ Libre/ Open-Source Software) communities.
The rise of global media corporations, which include digital platforms, has re-shaped traditional institutional mechanisms safeguarding freedom of expression, media pluralism, the autonomy of journalism and public interest more broadly. Whether these mechanisms will once again become benchmarks for media regulation and public policy, or whether private interests will continue to shape markets and societies is an open political issue. Alternatives are being envisioned in areas ranging from platform cooperatives and commons projects to strategic calls for technological sovereignty and public wealth creation. However, such initiatives usually lack broader political support from the public already accustomed to the commercial logic of the media. Commodification of everyday life through data capture, surveillance and privacy intrusion is easily dismissed as minor side effects to free usage and flexibility of ubiquitous digital services.
These and other key shifts in communication, media, and journalism have profoundly transformed not only the media environment, but society as a whole. In the summer school, we will critically discuss them in relation to the broader political and economic changes in capitalism.
Key readings in the course
- Mosco, Vincent (2009): The Political Economy of Communication (2nd edition, Sage).
- Wasko, Janet, Graham Murdock, Helena Sousa (eds.) (2014): The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications (Wiley-Blackwell).
- Hardy, Jonathan (2014): Critical Political Economy of the Media (Routledge).
- Pickard, Victor W. (2020): Democracy without journalism? Confronting the misinformation society (Oxford University Press).
- Bilić, Paško, Prug, Toni, Žitko, Mislav (2021): The political economy of digital monopolies: contradictions and alternatives to data commodification (Bristol University Press).
- Fuchs, Christian (2012): Foundations of critical media and information studies (Routledge).
Objectives and competences
Students will gain in-depth knowledge about recent developments in communication, media, and journalism from the perspective of the critical political economy approach through lectures and discussions with internationally recognised experts in the field; methods and analytical tools commonly used in the approach will be explained and discussed; presentation of the research papers (considered work in progress) will lead to comprehensive feedback that will help students develop their projects further and result in publishable academic writing; discussions will be carried out in a collaborative manner, with reciprocal assessment by students.
Intended learning outcomes
- Acquiring advanced knowledge on the critical political economy approach in communication studies.
- Review of the topical issues discussed in the field, including structural transformations in the media industries, technological changes, and global political and economic currents.
- Recognizing diverse traditional (e.g. ownership, production, consumption, labour, regulation, audiences) and contemporary (e.g. algorithms, platforms, data, artificial intelligence) issues in critical political economy.
- Explanation of possible levels of analysis in the political economy approach, from the macro phenomena of geopolitics, transnational, national and institutional dynamics, through mid-range phenomena of the structure(s) of the public sphere(s), to micro-phenomena of class-based conditions shaping inequalities of access and skill for using the media in everyday life and for work.
- Understanding how the market(s) and the state(s) control, regulate and form the media in capitalist societies shaped by persistent social inequalities.
- Capacity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in the previous studies and during the course to practical cases and interpretation of current social transformations.
- Introduction to the dynamics of peer feedback, scholarly presentations, and academic-level discourse (early-career scholars), with improved ability to appraise their own and other students work.
Learning and teaching methods
Lectures; study of the literature; group work; guided discussions; peer feedback; writing a scholarly research paper; academic presentation; commenting.