” In short, governmental institutions are the vestiges of the era for which they were conceived-an era of blind growth during which the multiple and diverse forms of growth were independent from one another.”1 So declared the American political scientist H. Cleveland in the NATO Review in late 1978.
What role fell to public power in the regulation of communication in the space traced out by the nation-state? This question would recur throughout the 1970s, in countries with a strong centralizing tradition as well as in those where regulation by the market had already much reduced the jurisdiction of public authorities in this area.
In an apparently paradoxical manner, while the entry of the nationstate into the world-space was accelerating, along with the posing of more and more political and economic problems in these terms, critical theory felt the need to reconsider the specificity of the state and the apparatuses of national as well as local communication. The conceptual tools that had prevailed up to then in accounting for the functioning of national communication systems proved to be inadequate. A twofold explanation of this is necessary.
The first reason is to be found in the way in which the critics of mass culture-and along with them, the majority of oppositional intellectuals
everywhere up to the 1970s — had until then approached the process of the industrialization of culture. The first critical theory, conceived in the late 1940s, is the work of the Frankfurt School, and more particularly of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, two German philosophers exiled to the United States to escape Nazism. From what was in fact the first theoretical confrontation between European Enlightenment culture and mass culture produced “for the millions” resulted the concept of the “culture industry.” In a seminal essay, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” the two authors wrote:
Interested parties explain the culture industry in technological terms. It is alleged that because millions participate in it, certain reproduction processes are necessary that inevitably require identical needs in innumerable places to be satisfied with identical goods Furthermore, it is claimed that standards were based in the first place on consumers’ needs, and for that reason were accepted with so little resistance. The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive needs in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger. No mention is made of the fact that the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest A technological rationale is the rationale of domination itself. It has made the technology of the culture industry no more than the achievement of standardization and mass production, sacrificing whatever involved a distinction between the logic of the work and that of the social system. This is the result not of a law of movement in technology as such, but of its function in today’s economy.2
In Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s eyes, the culture industry, as a place where serialization, standardization, and the division of labor are carried out, exemplifies the bankruptcy of culture and its fall into the status of a commodity. The transformation of the cultural act into a value abolishes its critical power. The reign of pseudo-individuality, which began with the existence of the bourgeoisie itself, is deployed arrogantly in mass culture. “What is individual is no more than the generality’s power to stamp the accidental detail so firmly that it is accepted as such. The defiant reserve or elegant appearance of the individual on show is mass-produced like Yale locks, whose only difference can be measured in fractions of millimeters.”3
The link they established between technology, culture, power, and economics is not analyzed as such; it is there only to clarify what they consider to be the degradation of the philosophical and existential role of culture as authentic experience. Therefore we must not expect to find in the work of these pioneers analyses of the way in which, in each concrete instance, the cultural industry-used in the singular, because viewed as a total system of production of culture as commodity-is incorporated into the action of institutions, or how it is positioned in relation to the state and organized civil society. And still less should we expect analyses of the way in which each of its components (cinema, music, press, radio, and so on) passes through, in its specificity, this process of industrialization. The notion of culture industry serves therefore as a foil to a certain sacralization of art and of high culture more than it serves to elucidate the industrialization of culture; still less is its internationalization examined. Hence it presents a crudely totalizing thesis. The presence of an industrial mode of production leads the two philosophers to fear that literature, painting, and jazz will meet the same fate as comic strips, radio, and the cinema. And yet, ten years before this essay on the culture industry appeared, Walter Benjamin, another representative of the Frankfurt School, had indicated how the very principle of reproduction renders outdated the old conception of art, which he called “auratic.” He showed clearly how an art like the cinema can exist only at the stage of reproduction and not that of the unique production.4
What Adorno and Horkheimer seem finally to have refused is above all this reproducibility of a cultural artifact by technical means. One cannot help seeing in their thought a certain nostalgia for a cultural experience free from any relation to technique. As I wrote with Jean-Marie Piemme in 1979: “One finds in this thought a Jansenist conception of writing, which, confident in itself, always suspects other means of communication (notably the image) of being a bearer of Evil. Writing, the repository of originality, is by the same token seen as the guarantor of authenticity and of the rationality of communication. On the other hand, the image intimately linked to reproducibility will always be pregnant with an unwanted irrationality.” This “literate distrust” led to the conclusion that “curiously, this kind of value judgment may be found as well at the foundation of other, diametrically opposed, approaches. One finds it in Ortega y Gasset as well as in Adorno: in their cases the weight of cultural heritage overdetermines the system of political and philosophical values.”5
From this vigorous declaration of faith in the value of high culture came two misunderstandings. With time, it would be severely reproached for bedding down with elitism and precluding the right questions on democratization and cultural democracy from being raised in the age of mass communications. Another objection reinforced the first: Can one legitimately infer from standardization and serialization of the cultural product a “mass production of the individual”? This is an old question that already divided empiricist sociology and that, in the course of time, would also divide different critical outlooks.
The other factor that explains the inadequacy of time-honored analytic schemes to the new circumstances of the 1970s lies in the concept of the state prevalent at the time. Critical theory postulated an “essence of the state,” that is, a stylized and totalizing model of the state, a universal model applicable in all times and places, a rigorously functional Platonic entity.
This abstract and theoreticist conception, adapted to the analysis of the media defined as part of what Louis Althusser dubbed “ideological state apparatuses,” eliminated from the field of observation the diverse forms taken by media institutions in each concrete situation. To begin with, a regime of private property is necessarily different from one governed by the principle of public service. The idea of structural invariance is at work here again, not only in the approach to state agencies but also in the analysis of discourses, inspired by the semiology of the era. Certain generic expressions were in vogue: massification, standardization, the dominant discourse, the consumer society, and so forth.
What was neglected in these theories of the cultural industry as a total system and of the state as a metaphysical entity was the historical dimension, that is, the articulation of the media with the whole ensemble of contradictions and structures in which they are implicated. What is the organic link tying a medium to the historical era and geographical space in which it functions? Is it the relation among the media themselves, both within a country and on the international level? Or rather among the economic and political determinations that, at a given moment, leave their mark on the social functions and uses of information and communication technologies?
As long as these questions were left unasked, internationalization was a dimension with no place in these schemas. To the forgetting of time was compounded the evacuation of space. But without these dimensions, there was scarcely any way of conceiving the successive ruptures the state had experienced in its forms, structures, and functions, from the city-state, the empire-state, and the feudal military state to the nation-state. The latter could not avoid coming to terms with worldwide space. We should also take into account the fact that the essentialist conception of the state, like the vision of culture as high culture, had been tainted at birth with another vice: logocentrism, that is, a belief in the universal value of rational models, truth, and normativity, at the foundation of the Western logos. What is most incredible is how these theoretical schemas-which invited political systems as different as Jacobin France, the U.S. federal state, Brazil under military dictatorship, or Mexico under its fifty-year-old single-party regime, all to identify with a universal notion of politics-created illusions for decades. But the grip of these conceptions of social change was so firm that they led one to believe that only the taking of state power could bring about a new society.
The late philosopher Henri Lefebvre was one of the rare figures to have anticipated some of the theoretical implications of the break with the old model. In 1978 he wrote:
Between historicity and globalism a conflictual, that is, a dialectical, unity is unfolding. A third term is space and what occupies it, modifies it and transforms it into social space. Analysis must take into account the state and, of course, contending strategies, but also the distribution of productive forces and the division of labor on a planetary scale. The globalization of the state coincides with the extension and the reinforcement of the world market, and in particular with the entry into the market, alongside the most varied products and labor, of energy (such as oil and nuclear energy) and of information, of “gray matter,” works of art, etc.6
But he took care to stress that “the state framework has a relation with logic and rationality, but it is not a relation of essence to essence or an abstract, unvarying principle of state.” On the contrary, he called it an “instrumental relation.”7
Michel Foucault, without suspecting the possible implications of his analyses, was not far from this conception of the state when he proposed at roughly the same time the notion of “governmentality.” After pointing out that neither in the course of its history nor at the contemporary moment did the state ever have the unity, the individuality, or the functionality with which it was credited, he argued for abandoning a totalizing theory of the state and for alternative research on “the ordinary dimension of the state,” that is, the procedures and acts by which the government of subjects and situations becomes operational. This meant studying its practices of adaptation, of attack and defense, its irregularities, its improvisations, in order to bring out other coherences, other regularities. Only a theory of concrete situations, a tactical analysis of the state and its techniques of government, seemed able for Foucault to open new ways of defining and redefining “what is the competence of the state and what is not, what is public and what is private, what is the state’s domain and what is not.”8 This was precisely one of the major questions that in the 1970s was preoccupying the European ministers of culture.
What is the relationship between industrially made cultural products and the access of the broad public to cultural goods? How are the socioeconomic conditions of creation modified by the possibility of multiplying copies of works of art and distributing them widely? Such were the enigmas which experts and advisers to the Council of Europe tried to resolve in October 1978 after observing that “the popularization of culture operates nowadays through the ‘cultural industries.’”9
The European ministers responsible for cultural affairs, meeting the same month in Athens, went even further: “Given that a large part of the cultural industries are multinationals and that the means of exercising influence on them are complicated, we recommend studying the possibility of increased cooperation concerning international cultural industries for example, carrying out a study of the degree to which the activities of the international or multinational cultural industries influence and are influenced by national cultural policies.”10
It was indeed in the year 1978 that the concept of “cultural industries” made its grand entrance into the administrative language of a European Community body. Covering records, books, cinema, radio and television, the press, photography, artistic reproduction and advertising, and new audiovisual products and services, the concept was carried along by the new situation of competition between cultural policies traditionally carried out by the state, which reach only limited audiences, and the means of production and dissemination to a mass public, which are increasingly bound up with the international market. The very effectiveness of those policies was questioned. As it was put by Augustin Girard, head of the research department of the French Ministry of Culture and the man responsible for bringing the concept into the Council of Europe’s frame of reference:
By a curious combination of factors, some cultural policies, in their concern for democratization, have spectacularly misfired. State involvement in favor of the most deprived sectors of population living furthest away from large cities-an effort which has increased by 100,200, or even 300 percent-has ended up working to the advantage of the most culturally favored and resulted in the expansion of central institutions to the point of ossification, while the people themselves have lost interest in public facilities, have equipped their homes with cultural technologies and have been consuming the products of mass culture at home.11
To this crisis in the institutional management of “cultural democratization” must be added the imperative of defending national cultural identity against the avalanche of imported products:
It would of course be absurd to speak of cultural self-sufficiency at the end of the twentieth century. Even if it were desirable, which it is not (cultures have always been transnational and have always nurtured one another), self-sufficiency would not be possible…. What one has to speak of, however, is cultural non-dependence, in other words a country’s ability both to restrict superfluous imports and ensure competitive national production. Today only flourishing cultural industries well adapted to their environment can enable countries to take up this challenge.12
For public authorities, knowledge of these industries becomes a prior condition for the formulation of new forms of state intervention in this area. Understanding the functioning of “cultural industries” means closely analyzing the process of production/commercialization in its different phases of conception and creation, editing, promotion, distribution, and sale to consumers; uncovering the structures of industrial sectors (in particular, forms and degrees of concentration); and finally, determining business strategies.
A multidisciplinary team of French researchers had already undertaken such an analysis of the cultural products and services in 1975, laying the basis for an economic study of the cultural industries.13 In pluralizing the concept of “culture industry,” they intended to distance themselves from the postulates of the two Frankfurt School philosophers. For them a single culture industry did not exist as such; it is a composite collection, made up of elements that clearly do not belong to the same field, or at least are strongly differentiated. Analysis must bring out the factors that explain such diversity. This variety is found in the forms of labor organization (the role of the editor, the training grounds for more talent, the socioeconomic status of artists, etc.), in the nature of the products themselves and their content, in the modes of institutionalization of various cultural industries (public services, relation to the state, the role of the private sector), and again in the conditions of appropriation of the products and services by different groups of consumers or users. Moreover, capital does not make profits from cultural production without encountering resistances and limits.14
The undertaking in France of the economic analysis of cultural industries in the second half of the 1970s was contemporaneous, in Western Europe, with the development of what British author Nicholas Garnham called a “political economy of mass communications”:15 a vast theoretical and practical effort to escape the impasse of a critical theory still largely confined to first-generation semiological analysis.
Convinced of its singular position on the world chessboard, France tried from 1979 on to incorporate the notion of “cultural industries” into its new conception of foreign relations. This was the objective of an official report submitted in 1979 by Jacques Rigaud to the minister of foreign affairs. It was the first administrative document that postulated the necessity of more sustained linkages between culture, the economy, the diplomatic service, and private enterprise, within the overall design of a diplomacy in phase with the major trends in the industrialization of culture.
The report stressed the weaknesses of French cultural industries.
Along with politics and the economy, culture-in the broadest sense of the term-has become a component of international relations But it should not be disguised that, in the current state of the world, the products of the French cultural industries suffer from manifestly inadequate distribution, which results from a lack of adaptation, not to say an obvious Malthusianism Unfortunately, the cultural industries are oriented to the internal market to an exaggerated degree. Dispersed, badly organized, with weak investment capacity, they are in some ways marginalized and unknown, too commercial for their cultural attributes and too cultural for their commercial attributes The dissemination of French cultural products throughout the world remains largely artisanal and archaic, which profits neither business or culture, and too often limits our influence to a small number of initiates who are familiar with the confidential distribution networks.16
For the first time, a report commissioned by public authorities stresses the obstacles posed by a certain conception of foreign service as public service. “The public service spirit leads to an inadequate, incomplete and, in short, embarrassed consciousness of the economic consequences of our public action. We must dare to speak, in certain instances, of cultural trade and, more generally, of the economic results of cultural relations. Naivete in this field is not a defensible attitude.”17
Finally, this official document introduced into diplomatic language concepts that tried to redefine the very content of “international relations.” In fact, Rigaud’s report ratified the vocabulary of “interdependence” as updated by Zbigniew Brzezinski some ten years before.
A country like France should, more than others, be sensitive to the notion of interdependence, because its culture has given and received so much. Since the Renaissance, she has shown the culture of others an attentive and respectful attitude. Our archaeologists, linguists, and ethnologists have greatly contributed to the knowledge of great civilizations the world over, and thus helped peoples who are their heirs to form their own cultural identity. Inversely, it is often with lavishness and disinterestedness that we have delivered to them a French culture which, by its humanism, was for them the means of access to the universal. 18
This new semantics of international relations was conceivable only at the price of abandoning the notion of “dependence.” This meant doing away verbally with the relations of domination and the long history of unequal exchange in the course of which the “world-system” was built. At a more operational level, in the field of international negotiations, this notion of interdependence tended to legitimate the subjection of national sovereignty to the principle of defense of common interests of the whole world community. Paradoxically, the concept of interdependence made its debut in major international bodies in 1974, when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the notion of a new international economic order. The recognition of “interdependence” was in reality the gage of a promise to let the Third World participate fully in the management of an international economy, and to participate also in a world that was ceasing to be bipolar (developed/developing) and was metamorphosing into a “multipolar globe.”
UNESCO put the concept of “cultural industries” into circulation at nearly the same time as did the Council of Europe. But the concept carried too many indelible traces of its geopolitical area of production to be exportable unconditionally. In fact, it was especially in countries with a high involvement of the state in cultural policies that the concept penetrated into research and thinking pertinent to the conflictual relation between the economy and culture, between public culture and the practices of private actors. This explains the undeniable echo of the concept in Francophone Belgium and in Quebec,19 regions that combined a large government apparatus in the cultural field with a concern to defend a cultural identity they felt was in peril.
Although they did not have to be concerned about safeguarding a position of power in cultural geopolitics, French-speaking Belgium and Quebec did have the benefit of being premonitory experiences. For a number of years, these two territories, which then had nearly the densest cable TV infrastructure in the world, had been deluged with their neighbors’ broadcasting channels and thus represented laboratories for the internationalization of an audiovisual system. From this advanced observatory emerged a first general rule: only news programs produced locally resisted competition from foreign channels, while fiction was the most difficult front to defend.
But the special feature of these two vanguard situations resided in more than the competition between a public service and channels coming from outside. Quebec first, and Belgium later, had inaugurated a process of decentralization of their audiovisual systems. Community radio and television stations in Quebec served in the 1970s as a model for numerous groups fighting for a revision of the public monopoly of the airwaves in France, where “free radio stations” were criminalized. The evolution of “community media” showed how false were the dilemmas that were at the center of current debates. It indicated, first, that a public service maintained for corporatist reasons is as pernicious as a decentralization aiming only to deconcentrate power, and second, that to play the game of “media-as-ideal-tool-of-self-management” against “television-as-centralizing-image-of-concentric-power” does not necessarily result in enlarged possibilities for citizens’ expression or the renewal of the public sphere.
The impossible quest for the “community” and “local” spheres as anchors for the creation of an identity and a space of so-called alternative media coverage served as a reminder that democracy is not necessarily where one thinks it is. Small is not necessarily beautiful. When the “local” is used to drive back the advances of the “worldwide” or the “international,” one may find oneself excusing a movement that tends to diminish meaning and the capacity to act in concrete situations. The “local” is of no real interest except where it allows a better grasp, by virtue of proximity, of the interaction between the abstract and the concrete, between experience and the universal, between the individual and the collective.
How to avoid the “local” ’s diminishing the possibility of understanding the broader reality from which the concrete takes its meaning? The most stimulating response concerning this articulation between the local and the world-space could already be found among certain journalists with long international experience. One of them, Claude Julien, then director of the monthly Le Monde Diplomatique, wrote in 1977:
All means of communication and information should strive toward a goal while always holding together the two ends of the chain: the “little” local fact and its faraway causes-scientific, financial, political, or economic The local media thus have, in any case, an irreplaceable role to play. But this role cannot be confined to the description of facts and local problems that the “main” organs of information ignore. It cannot treat the town or the neighborhood as an island cut off from the rest of the world: through the case of laid-off mill workers to whom it gives expression, it should retrace the thread linking their fate with the Egyptian peasants on the cotton plantations, with the laboratories where new synthetic fibers are developed, with financial maneuvers and international competition.20
This link between the local microsystem and deep tendencies of the world market and technology had already been understood by many farmers-often before many intellectuals-when they saw that the price of their crops was no longer determined in the financial markets located on the territory of their nation-state but rather in the grain markets of Chicago.
“Ten years ago,” stated lthiel de Sola Pool in 1974, “few communications practitioners thought in terms of any overall communications policy, and few communications researchers would have recognized policy research as an established category. All that has changed. Communications policy has emerged as a field of research.”21 The American sociologist defined this new field of study as “normative research about alternative ways of organizing and structuring society’s communications system.” One of the principal factors explaining this tendency resided in his view, in the “exponential growth in the rate of technological change.” The examples he chose to illustrate the takeoff of research on policy formulation were all taken from the field of new communications technologies such as cable and satellite television, and telecommunications more generally.
If de Sola Pool subscribed to this research perspective, seeing in it a way of better enlightening decision makers, he nevertheless signaled its dangers. What he feared most of all was an overly fervent commitment of researchers to the “big questions of public policy.” He even described as sins the “hubris of intellectual elitism” and the disdain of empirical analysis of facts to the benefit of “philosophical and conceptual-analytic deliberation of goals.” This peril seemed to him all the more necessary to avoid since objections from industrial and professional circles could already be heard, to the effect that this research was “a euphemism for the restriction of their freedom.” This was why he preferred not to lock research into the “archaic nineteenth century ideological argument about social vs. private ownership” and “national sovereignty.” His formula was therefore a policy of small steps dictated by the logic of technological supply. This approach consisted mainly in asking about the economic stakes and the means of assuring the social penetration of new technologies of communications.
The issue indeed lent itself to polemics. In the circles of American university research, other voices subscribed to a logic of demand that, contrary to that advocated by scholars such as de Sola Pool, began from the analysis of individual needs and examined the capacity of new tools to respond to them. Choosing this point of entry meant questioning a great majority of existing empirical research, its priorities in the choice of subjects, and of geographical zones to be tackled. In this perspective, the evaluation made by Hamid Mowlana and Herbert Schiller — in direct response to those of de Sola Pool — merely confirmed the history we have retraced in the preceding chapters: the close relationship between the perspectives adopted in research and the needs of corporations and government.22 At that time very few others stood up against such practices.
A veteran of studies of international communications, Ithiel de Sola Pool devoted a part of his article to the role of communications in development, and proposed making this theme an absolute priority in research on communication policy. For in fact this controversy among sociologists in the United States was only the domestic extension of an international debate on the theme of national communication policies.
In 1970 UNESCO, under the direction of Jean Maheu, had been commissioned by the U.N. General Assembly to “aid member countries to formulate a policy relative to the major means of information.” Since its foundation, the international organization had worked on the formulation of educational, scientific, and cultural policies, but had never before ventured into this field. The first meeting of experts took place in Paris two years later. From this moment on, the consulted specialists took care to circumscribe the range of these policies: “Recognizing the great differences in the social and economic situations and the diversity of political systems in the world, the meeting has not tried to propose one single method, but to indicate the basic factors that must be considered in the concrete context of each country.”
A series of intergovernmental conferences by region took up this theme in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The most important was the one organized in 1976 by the Latin Americans in San Jose, Costa Rica,23 out of which came a more precise definition of the concept:
Communication policies constitute coherent ensembles of principles and norms designed to set the general orientation for communications bodies and institutions in each country. They furnish a frame of reference for the elaboration of national strategies with a view to setting up communication infrastructures which will have roles to play in the educational, social, cultural, and economic development of each country. Even when they are not explicitly formulated, national communication policies already exist in many countries; they represent the culmination of a process of cooperation and negotiation among various partners: public authorities, the media, professional bodies and the public, which is the final user.24
The theme of the “national communication policy” had already been in the air for a number of years, particularly in countries such as Venezuela, where the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic parties governed in turn and where scholars and representatives of civil society had already elaborated together the principles of a policy for their country.25 The objective of the participants in the Costa Rica conference was to find policy formulas that put citizens on guard against both the arbitrary power of the state and the shortsightedness of the market. They aimed especially to introduce, into audiovisual landscapes given over to an unchecked market logic, a corrective inspired by the philosophy of “public service.”
Opposition from local and regional business circles was not long in coming. The same lobbies that had grown up to oppose the principle of a new international order in information lent them support, interpreting this proposal for public control as just one more stratagem to assure the stranglehold of the state on freedom of expression. Very few states took the initiative of promoting these principles, the gist of which was simply to make all parties admit that communication was not a commercial activity like all others. Proposals to involve citizens in deliberations on the place of the media in social development, in particular through representative councils reflecting national plurality, were shelved, even in countries where governmental authorities had been the most vigorous proponents of democratic restructuring of the means of communication. As for authoritarian regimes that had been in power for years, or even decades, as in Brazil, South Korea, or Indonesia, they had had no need to wait for the concept of “communication policy” to be born to perfect a policy of censorship affecting information and the media as well as all forms of public expression by their citizens, in the name of national security or the defense of public morality.
Independently of their procedural implications, the debates on the regulatory role of the state demonstrated that there was another way of linking research, expertise, and policy formulation than the one imagined by de Sola Pool, which was complicit with the status quo.
Many scholars actively engaged in the policy of democratizing communication dared to raise in their own countries those questions of a “philosophical” nature which so frightened de Sola Pool. For them, one of the essential problems posed by policymaking was precisely the lack of autonomy of existing research bodies, which made it difficult to carry out research that strayed beyond the beaten paths of bipolar schemas, and which did not tend to legitimate the positions of the state or the private sector. As the Venezuelan Oswaldo Capriles put it:
In the Third World there exist few research institutions that provide sufficient autonomy: lack of economic resources, lack of sufficiently trained human resources, political dependence, and in some cases, of certain institutions with respect to the government, and even the censorship or ideological control of the research; imposing influence on the topics on the part of foundations, governments and institutions sponsoring the research. In many countries, predominance of research for the private commercial sector: marketing, opinion studies, ratings, advertising, etc Committed research thus appears or tends to appear as an exception. A frequent campaign in dependent countries tends to undervalue the university research worker before public opinion: he is either a political extremist, or a utopian thinker out of touch with reality.26
The issue recurs regularly and its origin goes back to 1941, when Paul Lazarsfeld had formulated the dilemma of administrative research versus critical research, clearly taking his distance from the second alternative.27 This dilemma had long masked the theoretical poverty of empiricist sociology, a sociology that Theodor Adorno had justly considered to be incapable of “epistemological distance” as a result of having reduced the notion of “methodology” to “technical practices of research.” The legitimation of “administrative research” was what allowed Ithiel de Sola Pool to avoid having scruples about his promiscuous relations with his country’s national security policy even while denouncing others in the name of the scientist’s sacrosanct neutrality.
At the end of the 1970s, questions about this line of demarcation were more than ever on the agenda, and not just in the Third World. The report drafted in 1977 by Elihu Katz at the request of the BBC was a case in point.28 The British television network had solicited the expertise of this sociologist to map out the priorities of its research policy.
The Katz report marked a turning point in expert research in the service of an institutional television apparatus. It was interpreted in this light by British and North American scholars such as James Halloran and James W. Carey, who did not fail to subject it to critical evaluation. Roughly speaking, the report did no more than recycle the tired theme of media “effects” on audiences, without ever asking how it is decided what appears on the TV screen.29 Katz never risked a more explicit vision of the relation between television and society, television and social stratification, television and group psychology, or television and culture, instead engaging in intellectual shadow theater. Nor did he ever consider that the history and the intentions of the observer are an integral part of the history and the meaning of what he or she observes.30 So there is nothing surprising in the implacable verdict of his colleagues: “The proposals were developed to meet criteria stated in advance by the BBC. … By accepting the policy framework, the Katz report is not an encouragement to ‘re-think’ television or a call for scholarship about it-it is a call for research on it. That call must pretty much assume the existing social structure and political arrangements and the existing role television plays in our personal, political, and cultural life. We are back in the bind of administrative and critical research.”31 And it is this function of legitimating decisions already taken that disturbed all those who were aware of the quantitative and qualitative jump that expert research was then taking.
Is industrial strategy in the area of information and communication technologies an essential pillar of “communication policy”? Rare are the public authorities throughout the world that have raised this question or allowed themselves to formulate it. If France at the beginning of the 1980s was able to attempt to resolve it, it was because the state had always been a majority partner in the electronic industries. In 1978, the report by Simon Nora and Alain Mine had pointed to information and communication technologies as a way of “overcoming the crisis” and had proposed a voluntarist state strategy. Yet it was only in 1981, after the first election of Fran ois Mitterrand, that the French government elaborated the principles of an industrial policy in harmony with that objective. This was the role incumbent on the “integrated electronics sector” (filiere).
To guarantee a future of technological independence, Nora and Mine had proposed choosing a policy of product and market niches. The new public authorities were in fact to begin with another postulate, that of the interdependence of various electronics subsectors, and therefore, the impossibility of backing only one or even several of them, and hence the necessity of investing in them all.32 The concept of “integrated electronics sector” (-filiere) designated the process of unification that linked together eleven separate areas of the electronics industry (components, consumer hardware, computing, office systems, software and data banks, the automation of production, medical electronic and scientific instruments, telecommunications, professional electronics, electronics for weapons, and space technologies). While each of these sectors had its own logic, none could be envisioned without this progressive development of interdependences.
This diagnosis concerning technological convergence to be carried forward by digitalization and the homogenization of components controlled the reorganization of the whole network and imposed a lifting of barriers between sectors. The federating role of the state proved to be determining. In fact, the French strategy drew some lessons from the organizational experience of Japan, whose industrial success owed much to the incitement of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Overcoming barriers between subsectors meant establishing a new scheme of relations between the public sector and private enterprise, between industries in the same branch (in order to avoid competition within France), between national firms and subsidiaries of multinationals. Finally, it implied rethinking strategies of innovation by assuring the fluidity of horizontal transfers of technologies: strengthening the ties between industry and universities and between teams of private and public researchers; and integrating the design and marketing of the product by involving potential users in the processes of innovation.
This strategy involved uncertainties, including limited financial resources, the time necessary to guarantee a growth in foreign trade balances, and the uncertainty of social and cultural acceptance of new technologies. A necessary condition for success was to concentrate efforts at the European level in order to pool resources and broaden the scope of negotiations concerning the conditions of competition with major players such as Japan and the United States.33 As it turned out, the economic environment did not live up to expectations. In ten years, the commercial deficit of the European electronics industry grew twentyfold.34
In addition to the difficulties of building a European economic, cultural, and social space, the challenge of competition from Japanese firms, and the impossibility of combining Dutch, British, German, and French firms, the final blow for this “integrated electronics sector” came from the measures taken by the neoliberal government that came to power in France in 1986, barely four years after the official ratification of the concept: denationalization and the end of the federating role of the state.35
Eric Le Boucher, one of the initiators of the notion of integrated electronics sectors, made this disillusioned observation:
The Nora-Minc report was written at a time when the values of the left in France occupied the ideological foreground. It attempted to launch a broad, political vision of things to come. Conditions were no longer the same a few years later. “Pragmatism” was to squeeze out reflection. On the left the schema became the same as on the right: the more the country is computerized, the more it “modernizes” and the greater its chances of “winning out” against others in the crisis To say that “the computer is only a tool,” as was hammered home by the adulators of “modernity,” comes down to deliberately rejecting any thought about the tool itself in short, to approving without reservation the spread of the cold medium of a modernity without a vision.36
Deregulation and globalization now had wind in their sails. “Modernization” was the horizon. It was an idea that despite the accumulated criticism of the preceding decades sociologist Alain Touraine — to whom we owe the importation into France, in the late 1960s, of the concept of the “postindustrial society” — hastened to acclaim as liberating:37
French society is no longer made up of social classes: it is divided into three great categories, defined by their relation to modernization We find ourselves delivered from all visions of future society, from everything that hid an experienced reality that no longer reached us except through the voices of a few singers and clowns. Politics has finally been deconstructed. We are in the era of postliberalism as well as postsocialism.38
With the advent of visionless modernity, governmental discourse lost a whole range of references introduced into the state’s representation of international communication in the brief period when it still seemed possible to redefine the balance of world power. That period had featured in 1982 both the Cancun conference on North-South relations and the international conference in Mexico on cultural policy, where the French minister of culture, Jack Lang, provoked the wrath of the U.S. delegation because of a speech in which he lambasted “cultural imperialism.”
In the spirit of the first years of the socialist government, President François Mitterrand presented a report entitled Technology, Employment and Growth to the summit of the industrialized countries at Versailles in June 1982. He roundly denounced the threat posed to “memory” and the “freedom of thought and decision” by the financial, industrial, and geographical concentration of information in the hands of a few dominant countries, and he sounded the alarm of the risk of “uniformization of cultures and languages.” Appropriating the themes and concepts of the “new world order of information,” “codevelopment,” and the transfer of technology, Mitterrand proposed a World Charter of Communication with a view to “guaranteeing to countries of the South the capacity to control their means of communications and the messages they carry” and “protecting the sovereignty and cultural integrity of states, menaced by new technologies.”39 In short, this approach, which dared to question a certain growth model and its logics of exclusion, contrasted sharply with that of his partners in the club of seven industrial powers, which were not yet the “board of directors of the world” they were to become less than ten years later.
H. Cleveland, “La troisieme phase de l’Alliance,” Revue de l’OTAN, no. 6, December 1978.↩︎
T. W. Adorno and M. Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. J. Cumming, New York, Herder & Herder, 1972, p. 121.↩︎
Ibid., p. 154.↩︎
W. Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Illuminations, ed. H. Arendt, New York, Schocken, 1969.↩︎
A. Mattelart and J. M. Piemme, Television: Enjeux sans frontieres, Grenoble, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 1980, p. 15. I have restated here the analyses developed in this earlier study.↩︎
H. Lefebvre, De l’Etat, Paris, Collection 10/18, vol. 4, 1978 (“Les contradictions de l’Etat moderne”), p. 25.↩︎
Ibid., p. 37.↩︎
M. Foucault, “La gouvernementalite: Texte d’une le on,” Actes, Les Cahiers d’Action Juridique, no. 54, 1986, p. 16. (This text originates from a lecture given in Italy in the late 1970s.)↩︎
Document from the Conseil Europe, Council of Cultural Cooperation. Report to the preparatory meeting of the conference on the role of the state with respect to cultural industries, Strasbourg, October 9-10, 1978.↩︎
Conference of European government ministers responsible for cultural affairs, resolutions concerning cultural industries adopted at the Conference of Athens, October 24-26, 1978.↩︎
A. Girard, “Cultural Industries: A Handicap or a New Opportunity for Cultural Development,” in Cultural Industries: A Challenge for the Future of Culture, Paris, UNESCO, 1982, p. 27. By the same author: “Industries culturelles,” Futuribles, no. 17, September 1978.↩︎
Girard, “Cultural Industries,” p. 30.↩︎
A. Lefebvre, A. Huet, J. Ion, B. Miege, and R. Peron, Capitalisme et industries culturelles, Grenoble, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 1978. See also P. Flichy, Les industries de l’imaginaire, Grenoble, INA-Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 1980.↩︎
On the genesis and evolution of economic analysis of cultural products and services in France, see B. Miege, The Capitalization of Culture, New York, International General, 1988.↩︎
N. Garnham, “Contribution to a Political Economy of Mass Communication,”Media, Culture and Society l, no. 2, April 1979.↩︎
J. Rigaud, Les relations culturelles exterieures, Paris, La Documentation francaise, 1979, p. 66.↩︎
Ibid., p. 78.↩︎
Ibid., p. 24.↩︎
See J. G. Lacroix and B. Levesque, “Principaux themes et courants theoriques dans la litterature scientifique en communication au Quebec,” Communication 7, no. 3, 1985; Dossier, “Les industries culturelles: un enjeu vital!,” Cahiers de recherche sociologique 4, no. 2, Fall 1986; G. Tremblay, ed., Les industries de la culture et de la communication au Quebec et au Canada, Montreal, Presses de l’Universite du Quebec, 1990. Another country where the concept of cultural industry has developed significant roots in the 1980s is Spain. See E. Bustamante and R. Zallo, eds., Las industrias culturales en Espana, Madrid, Akal, 1988.↩︎
C. Julien, “Les deux bouts de la cha1ne… et le milieu,” Alternatives, issue devoted to the local press, 4th quarter, 1977.↩︎
I. de Sola Pool, “The Rise of Communications Policy Research,” Journal of Communication 24, no. 2, Spring 1974, p. 31.↩︎
H. Mowlana, “Trends in Research on International Communication in the United States,” Gazette 19, no. 2, 1974. H. Schiller, “Waiting for Orders: Some Current Trends in Mass Communications Research in the United States,” Gazette 20, no. 1, 1974.↩︎
Intergovernmental Conference on Communications Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, Final Report, San Jose, Costa Rica, July 12-21, UNESCO, Paris, 1976.↩︎
L. R. Beltran, “Politicas nacionales de comunicaci6n en America latina: los primeros pasos,” Nueva Sociedad 25, July-August 1976, p. 14. See also M. Tehranian, ed., Communications Policy for National Development, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977.↩︎
O. Capriles, El Estado y los medios de comunicaci6n en Venezuela, Caracas, lninco Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1976.↩︎
O. Capriles, “From National Communication Policies to the New International Information Order: The Role of Research,” in New Structures of International Communication? The Role of Research, papers from the Caracas Conference, International Association for Mass Communication Research, Leicester, U.K., Adams Bros. & Shardlow, 1982, pp. 34-35.↩︎
P. F. Lazarsfeld, “Remarks on Administrative and Critical Communication Research,” Philosophy and Social Sciences 9, 1941.↩︎
E. Katz, Social Research on Broadcasting: Proposals for Further Development (report to the British Broadcasting Corporation), London, BBC, 1977.↩︎
J.D. Halloran, “Further Development-or Turning the Clock Back?,” Journal of Communication 28, no. 2, Spring 1978.↩︎
J.W. Carey, “The Ambiguities of Policy Research,” Journal of Communication 28, no. 2, Spring 1978.↩︎
French Ministry of Research and Technology, excerpts from a report on the mission to promote the electronics sector, mission presided over by A. Farnoux, Paris, March 1982.↩︎
J. Barreau et al., La filiere electronique francaise. Miracle ou mirage?, Paris, Hatier,1986.↩︎
A. Farnoux, L’electronique dans le monde: Positions 1989-prospectives 1995, Paris, Electronics International Corporation, November 1990.↩︎
35. J Barreau and A. Mouline, L’industrie electronique francaise: 29 ans de relations Etat-groupes industriels (1958-1986), Paris, LGDJ, 1987. For a comparative study of French and British communication and industrial policies, see J. Tunstall and M. Palmer,Liberating Communication: Policy-Making in France and Britain, London, Basil Blackwell, 1990.↩︎
E. Le Boucher, “Le media froid de la modernite,” Le Monde, January 7, 1986, p. 36. By the same author, in collaboration with J. H. Lorenzi, see Memoires volees, Paris, Ramsay, 1979.↩︎
A. Touraine, La societe post-industrielle, Paris, Seuil, 1969.↩︎
A. Touraine, “D’un coup de pied, le plongeur … ,” Le Monde, December 30, 1986,p. 2.↩︎
F. Mitterrand, Technologie, emploi, croissance, Paris, La Documentation Français, 1982.↩︎