Development of Media Technologies as “New Media” from the Perspective of a Critique of the Political Economy of the Media

  • Manfred Knoche University of Salzburg
Keywords: new media, media technology, technologies, Critique of the Political Economy of the Media, planned obsolescence, capitalism


This paper analyses the emergence and development of new media technologies based on the approach of the Critique of the Political Economy of the Media.
First, a critical overview of approaches to the genesis and diffusion of technologies is given. Second, the connection between media technologies and capital accumulation is discussed. Third, the role of media technologies in capitalism as a means of investment, production, distribution, and consumption is analysed. Fourth, the connection between innovation, commodity aesthetics, and planned obsolescence is discussed. Fifth, the antagonistic character of the media system’s convergence, universalisation and diversification is shown. The article shows that technological development is not autonomous but depends on and is shaped by the development of capitalist society. In capitalism, factors such as capital accumulation strategies, crises, competition, advertising and marketing, market research, the state’s economic, technology and media policies, and science and engineering influence the emergence and development of new media technologies.

This article was first published as book chapter: Manfred Knoche. 2005. Entwicklung von Medientechnologien als „Neue Medien“ aus der Perspektive einer Kritik der  politischen Ökonomie der Medien. In Alte Medien – neue Medien: Theorieperspektiven, Medienprofile, Einsatzfelder. Festschrift für Jan Tonnemacher, edited by Klaus Arnold and Christoph Neuberger, 40-62.  Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.  Translated and published with permission by SNCSC.


Author Biography

Manfred Knoche, University of Salzburg

Manfred Knoche is Professor Emeritus of Media Economics at the University of Salzburg in Austria. He studied journalism, sociology, political science and economics at the University of Mainz and the Free University of Berlin. He obtained his PhD (1978) and defended his habilitation (1981) at the Free University of Berlin. He was research assistant in the years 1974-1979 and Assistant Professor of Communications Politics in Berlin in the years 1979-1983. From 1983 until 1994, he was Professor of Media and Communication Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, where he was also the Director of the Centre for Mass Communications Research. From 1994 until 2009 he held the Chair Professorship of Journalism and Communication Studies with Special Focus on Media Economics at the University of Salzburg’s Department of Communication Studies in Austria. He chaired the German Communication Association’s (DGPuK) Media Economics-section. He is author of many publications on the Critique of the Political Economy of the Media. His work has especially focused on the critique of the political economy of media concentration and the media industry’s structural transformations.,
Twitter: @Medoek