Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Book: Democratic Communications: Cultural and Historical Resources and Possibilities in the Age of Capitalism

New Book: Democratic Communications: Cultural and Historical Resources and Possibilities in the Age of Capitalism

Lexington Books
Author: James Hamilton


While it has always been hard to do, asserting an essential distinction between mainstream media and alternative media has become even more difficult within the past twenty years. With the emergence of such efforts as open publishing, web-logging and video-logging, video-posting websites, citizen journalism, creative-commons initiatives, and image-focused anti-corporate activism, this traditional distinction is increasingly unable to navigate within this emerging media landscape.

The growing inability to adequately map this landscape using this distinction demands that these lines be reconsidered. New ways must be formed for probing implications of these new media outlets and means for democratization and global-justice movements.

This book reconstitutes the cultural and historical roots of this protean media landscape and assesses its relevance to democratic communications. Using a comprehensively argued cultural and historical analysis, the book rethinks long-standing assumptions about alternative media and democratic communications. By providing greater understanding of historical resources, limitations, and possibilities, this book makes a key contribution not only to scholarship in this area, but also to this pressing social, political, and cultural issue.


Table of Contents

* Preface
* Acknowledgements
* Introduction: The Problem of the Mainstream and the Alternative

Part One—Market Formations

* Introduction to Part One
* 1. Providentialism and Rationalist Empiricism in Early Modern England
* 2. The Emergence of Broadcasting and the Rationalization of Participation

Part Two—Struggling Against the Market

* Introduction to Part Two
* 3. Philanthropy, Professionalization, and Social-Reform Communications
* 4. Community Media Projects and the Containment of the Mass-Culture Critique
* 5. Modernism and the Aestheticization of Dissent

Part Three—Toward New Formations

* Introduction to Part Three
* 6. Market Radicalism and the Struggle of Participation
* 7. Democratic Communications as Critical, Collective Education

* Afterword: Utopia and Inspiration

* Bibliography
* Index



Advance commentary on the book:

"Democratic Communications is a must read for all students and scholars of media, and all activists interested in developing challenges to the mainstream media. The book adds historical depth and important new insights to old questions, and will forever change the way you think about 'alternative' media."
— T.V. Reed, author of The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle


"There is no more thoughtful historian of the notion of alternative media than James Hamilton; his erudition and intelligence are on full display in Democratic Communications. This book should be read by every scholar committed to understanding the history and meaning of progressive media. If you think you already know what you're talking about when you discuss alternative media, reading Hamilton's book will make you think again; if you don't think much of the promise of alternative media, Hamilton will make you rethink that too."
— John Nerone, professor, College of Communications Scholar, and director of graduate studies for Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


"This book is splendidly chewy, offering both an absorbing array of historical specifics and arguments, and of conceptual challenges. It lends considerable muscle to the rapidly growing debate on social movements and their media."
— John Downing, director of the Global Media Research Center and professor of international communication at Southern Illinois University Carbondale

"Democratic Communications is one of the most thoughtful and literate studies of alternative media to date. Hamilton's work carries us across the centuries, inviting reflection on what it means for media to serve public needs rather than private wealth. One is not only impressed with the rigor of his research but also with the breadth and subtlety of his analysis."
- Michael Curtin, author of Playing to the World's Biggest Audience and Redeeming the Wasteland

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