Political Economy Approach as Complementary to Cultural Studies Approach in the Study of Contemporary Mass Media


  • Abdissa Zerai Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication,


political economy, cultural studies, Marxist view, pluralist view, multiperspectival approach, reductionism, economism


In contemporary communication scholarship, political
economy and cultural studies approaches to the analysis of the
mass media have often been at loggerheads. As a reaction to the
reductionism and economism of the political economy approach,
for the last several years, the cultural studies approach has made
audience agency and, hence, audience reception study the central
focus in its critique of the mass media, thus making convergence
between the two approaches more difficult. By laying out the locus
of the difference between the two approaches and the merit of the
political economy approach in the analysis of the mass media, this
theoretical paper stresses the need for cultural studies scholars to
go beyond using the shortcomings of the political economy
approach as an excuse for not seriously engaging in a consistent
and meaningful articulation of political economy with cultural
studies. This paper calls for the convergence of the two approaches
through the adoption of Kellner’s ‘multiperspectival’ approach for
a better and more comprehensive understanding of the way the
mass media works in contemporary society.