Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Empire and Communications” as Want to Read:
Empire and Communications
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Empire and Communications

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  11 reviews
It’s been said that without Harold A. Innis there could have been no Marshall McLuhan. Empire and Communications is one of Innis’s most important contributions to the debate about how media influence the development of consciousness and societies. In this seminal text, he traces humanity’s movement from the oral tradition of preliterate cultures to the electronic media of ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Dundurn (first published January 1st 1972)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Empire and Communications, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Empire and Communications

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  82 ratings  ·  11 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Empire and Communications
Miglena
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive look at history of communications from antiquity to the 50s, when the author died. This book was his swan song, and wasn't accepted well in the academic community. The book shifts many paradigms of communication and its role in legal systems, governance and economic development. Below is my longer review:


Harold Innis is effectively one of the first economic historians. His investigation into communications in empires that prospered and later collapsed, was aimed at finding answe
...more
☺
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one in particular I mean jeez if it sounds interesting give it a go
Shelves: history, media
Innis writes socio-economic historiography like Hemingway fiction. Sentences are spartan in the book's main sections while footnotes and appended scribblings vy for the position of shortest syntactically incomplete semantic units. Comes with a downright silly bibliography -- a roughly estimated average of four works cited per page. Sometimes obtuse (which has mostly to do with syntax, in some cases with terminology) and always dispassionate (an attitude McLuhan in the foreword calls "a lack of a ...more
Tom
Jan 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Are you kidding me? This is a supposed classic in communication studies, so I wanted to like it. And being that it's held in such high regard, I naturally had high expectations going in (though, I admit, those expectations were tempered by my familiarity with scholarship in the field). The problem is that this work speaks volumes as to why theories in communication studies are so utterly lacking in anything approaching scientific rigor.

There might be something to the idea that the medium of comm
...more
Thiago Silva
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-history
I came to Innis’ books following what McLuhan said about them, that his own works were a footnote to the observations of Innis.

Innis is a hard read. I’ve read a chunk of Bias of Communications and it seems no different than Empire in that regard. His style is simply this: storming out small sentences describing chronological events in history with no pause on sight. Halfway into the book he starts to timidly draw insights and only by the end, when the subject is the printing press, that he grant
...more
Sophia
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: media-theory
A highly condensed examination of the role of media in civilizations. Fusion of papyrus and stone resulted in an unstable Egypt Empire. Babylon was aslo struggling in the balance of monarch and priests' monopoly of knowledge, stone and clay. Greek nourished from an oral tradition. Byzantine survived with parchment while papyrus costed Roman its empire. Then came the paper and print press, then business industry and in the other continent newspaper found its dominance in a brand new country. ...more
Seneda
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a really fascinating book. I really would like to read it again in a physical edition; it is quite a hassle to read the footnotes in the kindle.
Karl
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this book a much higher rating because there are a lot of good ideas there that I'll be mulling over for a long time. But the deficiencies are just too significant and pervasive to ignore. I'll start with the bright spots.

The overall premise, that communications technology and social practice defines the form that empire takes is striking and illuminating. Also the idea that, fundamentally, empires must address problems of space and problems of time in how communications are use
...more
Zack
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
There is something really interesting here, but I think it might take another time or two and some context for me to really grasp what it is. Innis's stated goal at the start of these lectures is to explore a culture's texts and modes of textual production as products shaping economic, governmental, and cultural forces. He does this through a method of intense historical excavation, such that this is kind of the names/dates/figures kind of text that often people are warned against writing. But h ...more
Patrick
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Innis has no intention of "dumbing down" the message of this book. As such, while a fascinating historical overview of the uses of various communicative forms and their social, political, and economic impact, this book will require readers to pay close attention rather than take a cursory glance. ...more
Henrique Maia
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it
How much impact had writing in its different incarnations had on world history? How does changes in writing technologies influence the outcomes of empires? This (or something akin to this) is the thesis of Harold A. Innis in this short, but difficult to read (so they say), book.

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this different outlook proposed by Innis. Maybe, as myself, you’ll reach Innis by reading Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy. In any case, Innis’ proposal makes you think
...more
Brian
Sep 25, 2008 is currently reading it
The second of 2 classic comm. theory books (the 1st is The Bias of Communication-1949) by Harold Innis, whose theories of 'time-binding' and 'space-binding' media were very influential on Marshall McLuhan, and all who followed in his wake. Heavy going, but worth it. ...more
Tyson Luneau
rated it it was ok
Jan 01, 2021
John
rated it really liked it
Oct 07, 2014
John
rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2012
Dave
rated it liked it
Sep 28, 2011
Fiona MacKellar
rated it liked it
Feb 17, 2015
Joanna
rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2011
Federico Ponzoni
rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2016
Svante Rodegard
rated it liked it
Dec 02, 2018
Katie McCracken
rated it it was ok
Jan 17, 2017
J
rated it it was amazing
Nov 17, 2017
Leonard Houx
rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2008
Joshua
rated it liked it
Jan 30, 2012
Luís
rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2014
Farnaz Seifi
rated it really liked it
Jan 10, 2013
Patrick Roney
rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2017
Jackson Childs
rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2018
Mona Cummins
rated it liked it
Jul 30, 2014
Tim
rated it liked it
Feb 10, 2009
Adso
rated it liked it
Jan 26, 2016
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment
  • The Scientific Revolution
  • The Lived Nile: Environment, Disease, and Material Colonial Economy in Egypt
  • Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital
  • Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States
  • Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China
  • Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
  • War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring
  • Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rh�ne
  • Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade
  • The Printing Press as an Agent of Change
  • Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word
  • The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century
  • The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present
  • The Railway Journey: The Industrialization and Perception of Time and Space
  • Energy and Civilization: A History
  • Buddy Bradley, Vol. 1: Hey, Buddy!
  • O Que é Isso, Companheiro?
See similar books…

News & Interviews

The coming season is a big one for the science fiction and fantasy genres, with the release of some of 2021's most anticipated speculative...
82 likes · 62 comments
“The task of understanding a culture built on the oral tradition is impossible to students steeped in the written tradition. p.55” 3 likes
“Literature and other fields of scholarship have become feudalized in a modern manorial system. Monopolies of knowledge have been built up by publishing firms to some extent in co-operation with universities and exploited in textbooks.” 0 likes
More quotes…