Research Conference, Amsterdam, 25–26 November 2005
Nationalism and Internationalism in Media Studies – Europe and America since 1945 Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton were probably the first media scholars, or sociologists interested in the mass media, to pay attention to the relationship between European and American mass communication studies. Lazarsfeld (1941), on the basis of his cooperation with Adorno, was concerned with bringing empirical social research and the kind of theorising typical of the Frankfurt School closer to each other, whereas Merton (1949) stressed the distance between European sociology of knowledge and American mass communication research – in Merton’s view, they seemed to imply diametrically opposed frames of academic mind. Both Lazarsfeld and Merton shared a broad scope of intellectual perspective, but, due to the circumstances, neither had anything to say about the most prominent European mass communication studies tradition in the inter-war period, German science of the press (Zeitungswissenschaft).
Actually, up to 1945, there were two main national roads to what was to become the media studies discipline as we today know it: German and American. Starting from press studies, which was institutionalised during the First World War, the Germans expanded the subject matter of the field to include also other mass media. Hans Traub (1933) and Emil Dovifat (1934), in particular, made the case for a science that would cover all the media concerned with matters pertaining to the public sphere or communication to anonymous masses. In this they presented what one can legimately expect from any conception of media studies as a field of knowledge: some general concepts that will both separate the media from other socio-cultural phenomena and show how they share certain common characteristics. This is what the Americans, with the help of emigrants like Lazarsfeld and ignoring earlier attemps by Robert E. Park and others, were trying to accomplish between, say, 1935–1945. Instead of ’public sphere’ (Publizistik, Öffentlichkeit), they opted for the concept-family of ’(mass) communication’ and ’(mass) media’, which was well established by the end of the 1940s. But both the Germans and the Americans were inattentive to what was going on the other side of the Atlantic – a fact which opens up the question of geopolitics, ie the relation between nationalism (provincialism) and internationalism (cosmopolitanism), in media studies.
To what extent does the geocultural and -political context of media scholars determine their intellectual horizon – that is, the persons, schools of thought and historical periods they are interested in and converse with? The question is intriguing. Answering it directly is, however, hampered at least by two obstacles, which have to do with the state of disciplinary historiography in media studies.
First and foremost, the general history of the field has not been written, and, what is more, with unsufficient preliminaries, there seems to be little hope for it in the near future. National histories, or attempts at such, exist but not a single international history comparable to what established disciplines usually can offer (Moragas Spa 1981 points to this direction). Still, to my knowledge only two countries have provided us with more or less comprehensive treatises on the subject. Germany paved the way with Otto Groth’s Die Geschichte der deutschen Zeitungswissenschaft (1948), which delienates the history of German press studies from the first academic dissertation in the 1690s to the early 20th century, and Lutz Hachmeister (1987) has continued the story to the 1980s, whereas the growth of U.S. mass communication research has been charted extensively by Everett M. Rogers (1994).
Second, there is evident lack of systematic and detailed research on the history of the field. By this I mean studies that are not just overviews of great names, canonical texts or dominant paradigms. We need many more analyses focussing, among other things, on biographies of individual scholars, the development of university departments as well as of central concepts, relations between media studies and other relevant disciplines, and the specific social and cultural milieus which have nurtured media studies in different countries. In other words, the historiography of media studies should come closer to trends in general intellectual history, disciplinary history, and comparative historical sociology of science.
In an attempt to address these current limitations, I will compare the postwar evolution of media studies in Europe and the United States, centring on the theme of nationalism vs internationalism. For reasons of convenience and relative importance, I take Britain, France and Germany (West-Germany before 1990) to represent Europe. I will, however, refer unsystematically to some other countries here and there. The sixty years since the end of Word War II are divided into three twenty-year periods: 1945–1965, 1965–1985 and 1985–2005. The procedure is by its nature mechanical and arbitrary if measured by the exact length of the periods. Yet, when trying to explain the ebb and flow of isolationism and cosmopolitanism in media studies, the tripartition makes sense. Besides, Bernard Miège (1995) has similarly divided postwar communication thought into three phases.
What follows has an analytical, explanatory and critical component. I will take each national scene for closer scrutiny to be able to explain, by examining similarities and differences, particularities as well as generalities. As I think one should prefer communication bridges to communication gaps, I will make the case for European cosmopolitanism to counter the tendency, visible in media studies, towards ’two Europes’ – ’Continental’ and ’Anglo-Saxon’.
The Struggle for and against National Isolation: 1945–1965 World War II had a strong impact on media studies because it cleared the way for the new international order in which the United States was the prime Western actor, and because it gave rise to the Cold War which assisted in homogenising – sometimes by polarising – national intellectual scenes. The new status of the United States had a different content for American media scholars from what it meant to their European colleagues. But one can see a common theme across the Atlantic: the debate between those relying on national self-sufficiency and those calling for international cooperation. The American case is most intriguing to begin with.
It is common knowledge that there were two projects of media studies in America during, let’s say, 1935–1960: the empirical (mass) communication research of Carl Hovland, Lazarsfeld and others, and the mass culture debate of which the members of the Frankfurt School are the best-known, but which included also sociologists (C. Wright Mills, Daniel Riesman) and literary critics (especially of the so-called New York Intellectuals like Irving Howe). What is less known, however, is the one crucial differerence between these intellectual movements: mass communication research was a purely nationalist project without practically any links abroad, while those debating mass culture were usually cultural modernists or other persons who had a keen interest in Europe. In consequence, an explanation has to be given to the fact that the nationalist tendency prevailed over the internationalist one – that is, why American media studies was established as mass communication research in an atmosphere of insularity, which the mass culture debators could not break. To provide such an explanation, I combine three reasons in a chain of argument.
The end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War just a few years later contributed to the upsurge of nationalism and nativist tendencies in American society and culture (Woods 2005). The most conspicuous episode was the so-called Second Red Scare, which helped Senator Joseph McCarthy come to power. In the age of McCarthyism, foreign affiliations became suspect. Even Partisan Review, which had been a strong advocate for cosmopolitanism in the 1930s, voiced in the early fifties the view that one should no longer turn to Europe (Tallack 1991). Closely linked to all this was a belief in American exceptionalism, the idea that America can be understood only by Americans who have a specific historical mission to accomplish. This belief as an underlying rationale made it easier for social scientists, media scholars included, to cut themselves off from foreign influences and habits of mind.
Mass communication research had been, however, preceded by a different strand of American interest in the media – namely, the Chicago School and the 1920s debate between John Dewey and Walter Lippmann. On this interpretation, the fault with Robert E. Park, who had completed his dissertation in Tübingen, and others was their too close association with the European sociology à la Simmel or Weber. Instead, mass communication research was based on the non-historical empirical sociology that resulted when the main thrust of sociology crossed the Atlantic during the inter-war years (Zaret 1980). It is in this way that mass communication research was to be identified with a certain interpretation of Americanism conform with U.S. postwar world leadership and the establishment of the military-industrial complex – a conjunction all too evident to those to whom, like James W. Carey (1992), the other American tradition of small-town democracy still appealed.
Coupling research with state and corporate support was necessary in view of the kind of research that was conducted – social scientific ’big science’. In Lazarsfeld’s conception, the ideal organisation for media studies was a large research institute which called for minute division of intellectual labour made possible only by substantial financial inputs (cf. Pollak 1979). This is the least controversial part of the argument, because the links between empirical social research and the rise of the modern – both industrial-military and welfare – state are all too obvious to ignore. Still, what is specific to the link in more general perspective is the idea of homogeneous modernisation which makes national differences either lags or deviations to be corrected. In this, American nationalism – in the guise of empirical social science – turned into the internationalism of the 20th century. Accordingly, mass communication research became one of the US export items that was offered to the Old and – via the UNESCO – the Third World.
Prior to 1945, Germany was in many respects the leading country as far as academic media studies is concerned. It had several university departments dedicated to the study of press and public communication as a separate discipline; the German media scholars had fostered a continuing systematic discussion on the theoretical content and specificity of the discipline; and they had manifested their interest in the internationalisation of the field – the leading journal Zeitungswissenschaft (published between 1926 and 1944) called itself the ’review for international press studies’, and efforts to found an international scholarly organisation were made, especially by Karl d’Ester (for the role of d’Ester, see Klose 1986). The rise of national socialists to power in 1933 set strict limitations on all these aspirations, but it also guaranteed the continuity of the field as none of the prominent media scholars, contrary to philosophers or sociologists, emigrated, and only a few (Otto Groth and Hans Traub) had their academic career chances blocked because of their Jewish origins.
After 1945, German media studies faced the same dilemma as the American one, even if the parameters were different. Germany’s political and military ambitions of world leadership had been crushed, and her specific way to modernity, the Sonderweg, had led to a dead-end. The conflict between nationalists and internationalists assumed here the duality between those sticking to traditional German conceptions of human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) and those attentive to contemporary foreign influences. A short way of summing up this polarity is to weave the narrative around Emil Dovifat, who represented continuity with the past, and Walter Hagemann, who established contacts with French and Anglo-American scholarship. Dovifat and Hagemann were also the two leading figures behind the new rise of German media studies in the late forties and during the fifties. One of their joint achievements was the establishment of the journal Publizistik in 1956, which replaced the work of Zeitungswissenschaft, put down when Allied forces entered German territory in late 1944.
Emil Dovifat (1890–1969) had begun his career in the 1920s, and he remained active in Germany throughout the years of 1933–1945. He was one of the first to instist that the newspaper science or press studies should be expanded to include all media concerned with public life. He propagated the view in his influential textbook Zeitungslehre, which ran through several only slightly altered editions from 1930 to 1956. It has been ironically argued that whatever the regime under which Dovifat defended his ideas – the Weimar Republic, National Socialism, the Federal Republic – his basic tenets remained the same (Raabe 1961). This is so because Dovifat viewed mass media first of all as active, non-neutral participants in the present, which also made the science of public life or public sphere explicitly normative (see Dovifat 1956a). This adherence to the Geisteswissenschaft tradition, which was the link to the great past of German 19th century human sciences, explains Dovifat’s lack of interest in newer trends of mass communication studies in other countries. His dialogue with a British press historian may serve as a further, if somewhat anecdotal evidence.
The new Dutch journal Gazette, modelled after Zeitungswissenschaft as ’International Journal of the Science of Press’, published in its first issues an exchange of views between Stanley Morrison (1955) and Dovifat (1956b). Morison celebrated German newspaper study for its long traditions and considerable achievements, and set it as an example for Britain lacking anything comparable. He added one major proviso, however. Namely, Morison castigated German scholarship for its close relationships with state authorities, to be seen evidently during World War I, but which according to him continued through the Weimar period to post-1933 developments. Dovifat denied the allegation fiercely. He did, still, praise Morison’s contribution because it came from England which, so far, had contributed little to public sphere studies. Germany, one way conclude, was for him mainly an exporter.
Walter Hagemann (1900–1964) was less attached to the past and more open to non-German influences (for his biography, see Pasquay 1986). Although he was only ten years Dovifat’s junior, Hagemann had had no academic career before 1945, and he even received his professorship in Munich without full formal qualifications. However, in a stream of textbooks, beginning with Grundzüge der Publizistik (1947), Hagemann outlined the main contours of public media but also gave special treatment to all the main media such as, in Fernhören und Fernsehen (1954), radio and television. Like Dovifat Hagemann was deeply conscious of history, which makes Grundzüge der Publizistik a highly interesting counterpart to the new mass communication textbooks that were published on the other side of the Atlantic. Hagemann did, however, have much greater sympathy than Dovifat for non-German ways of doing media studies.
At the time, there were two main sources of inspiration available for someone like Hagemann who was interested not only in the print but also audiovisual media: the filmology movement in Europe and mass communication research in America. It is no coincidence that one can see traces of both in Hagemann’s output, although the bibliography of Grundzüge der Publizistik is still mainly home-grown. Along with Erich Feldmann Hagemann was informed about the multidisciplinary filmological work radiating from Paris but having strongholds or at least enthusiasts, besides Germany, also in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Denmark and Poland. As to mass communication research, Hagemann’s fifties books such as Rundfunk und Fernsehen testify to his awareness of latest trends in the anglophone world.
In the postwar decades German universities were suffused with the atmosphere of the 1930s (Habermas 1991), but the 1950s witnessed the revival of the kind of empirical social research Max Weber had already recommended during the first congress of the German Sociological Association in 1910, but which was this time introduced from America. The emergence of Americanism in media studies took place in Germany between cirka 1955–1965, but I will postpone dealing with it to the next period. Instead, I move on to France, which was a latecomer when compared to Germany or the United States, but which had a unique profile combining features familiar from the earlier cases.
France came out of World War II as a victor, but only after a military disaster and humiliating occupation. During the postwar decades, the so-called ’Glorious Thirty Years’ (Trente Glorieuses), it experienced a speeded-up modernisation that changed the face of French society which, around 1950, still had many characteristics of 19th century life (Borne 1990). Entering into an allience with Germany, France took on the active role in developing the core of what was to lead to the present European Union. Under President Charles de Gaulle, during the first ten years of the Fifth Republic after 1958, France also tried to secure for herself a ’third road’ beyond the Cold War opposition between the Soviet Union and the United States. France’s peculiar geopolitical position, as well as her cultural and intellectual specificities, account for the emergence of her internationally oriented media studies in the 1950s. To substantiate this, I take up the cases of Edgar Morin and Roland Barthes.
Up to 1945, the French had displayed considerable interest in the media, the print media in the 19th century and cinema in the early 20th century. What they lacked, however, was an academic attention devoted to establish a specific discipline comparable to the newspaper science in Germany or mass communication research in America. It is true that a German-inspired Press Institute was founded at Sorbonne in 1937 and that American-inspired research on public opinion took off under the Vichy regime (for these, see Albert 2001 and Georgakakis 2001). Yet, although both approaches continued after the war it was the filmology movement, with which both Morin and Barthes were associated, that showed the French originality. To explicate the main reasons for it, I will use Morin (b. 1921) and Barthes (1915–1980) as illustrations of larger tendencies, of which I sort out three for closer scrutiny. They have to do with the sort of Marxism, the so-called Arguments group (see, eg, Poster 1975), Morin and Barthes had close contacts with.
Empirical social research was introduced into France as part of the general modernisation that the postwar state initiated in the guise of the new administrative ethos (see Ross 1995). For left intellectuals and scholars in the social science and the humanities, this posed a major problem because empirical research methods, especially among communists, were associated with ’bourgeois science’ and Americanism. To overcome this limitation, a non-orthodox or Western Marxism was needed to bridge the gap between philosophy (’speculation’) and empirical verification (’hard facts’). This is what one can see in Morin’s works on the sociology of film spectatorship (see e.g. Morin 1953) and in Barthes’ (1957) sketches of contemporary French everyday culture. If one considers Barthes’ Mythologies as too essaystic to stand for scholarship, he did at about the same time also develop film semiotics and participate in experimental pschological studies of film viewing (see Barthes 1960).
Morin and Barthes were, thus, using Western Marxism as a means of legitimating the combination of ’Grand Theory’ and empirical descriptions. In this, they were helped by the French sociological tradition with one foot in anthropology. That is, it was much easier to couple anthropologically informed sociology with Marxism than the empirical social reasearch of mass communication studies, as the conflict between Lazarsfeld and Adorno well testified to. Anthropology provided Morin and Barthes with the major concepts of the magic and myth, which led to a new problematic for media studies – the study of the imaginary constitution of the 20th century society through audiovisual mass media and popular culture. Barthes’ Mythologies (1957) and Morin’s L’esprit du temps (1962) are in this sense milestones of the French variant to mainstream media studies.
Morin’s and Barthes’ discoveries or emphases would not have been possible but for the role given to contemporary ’civilisation of the image’, as Barthes (1961) called it. The French were film buffs and picture-minded, and in theoretical terms this paid handsomely. Both the Germans and the Americans had tried to incorporate the cinema into the discipline of media studies, but the efforts were far from successful – in postwar Germany a small minority manifested interest in the cinema, whereas in America the initial embracing of the film, which had a major role in World War II propaganda, soon evaporated. For Morin and Barthes, films (Morin) and photographs (Barthes) were of utmost importance because they were ’trivial’. As such they revealed something unique of the life of 20th century people. This made media studies a diagnostic endeavour the rationale of which was to lay bare the social totality by means of its most trivial looking parts.
The disciplinary framework which linked the work of Morin and Barthes to mass media studies was filmology, the first successful international network of media scholars. With its headquarters at Sorbonne, filmologists published between 1947–1962 the journal Revue internationale de filmologie which gave scholars from several European countries the chance to communicate with each other directly (the best introduction is Lowry 1985). Experimental psychologists were the most active members of the movement, and it is no wonder that also Morin tried to develop a phenomenological and sociological explanation for the popularity of cinema attendance and film-viewing. In this, he was well acquainted with the results of American mass communication reserchers. Admittedly, Barthes, in his interest in film semiotics and the cultural phenomenology of photographs, was less internationally oriented. Yet, he was to become in the next phase the prime force by which French structuralism achieved international incluence in media studies.
Like in France prewar media studies lacked in Britain a firm institutional basis, but unlike France Britain did not produce anything resembling the energy behind filmology whose networks, expectedly, were not densely populated by British scholars. As there is scant information available on pre-1960s British media studies (Corner 1998, for instance, has nothing to say about the period), I will use the cases of Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart to illustrate briefly my point.
As a result of the Second World War, Britain had to adapt herself to new geopolitical realities. There was no going back to the imperial past, and in order to maintain her international position Britain had to rely on the United States (Hitchcock 2003). At the same time, Britain’s gallant performance in the war efforts fostered national self-sufficiency and insularity, if not parochialism – in the late forties ”most British people regarded other Western Europeans as incomprehensible aliens” (Morgan 2000, 73). All this makes it easier to understand why the British version of cultural media studies, in contrast to the French one of Morin and Barthes, had originally a much more national profile. While Morin and Barthes were analysing the new image-based civilisation of the 20th century, Williams (see the closing section of 1958) and Hoggart (1957) focussed on the British working-class still clinging to its traditional way of life against Americanisation and ’embourgeoisement’. Williams’ and Hoggart’s more narrow perspective on media went hand in hand with their more national frame of intellectual references. It was only in the late 1960s and the 1970s, when the new internationalism had swept through media studies, that one could see Continental names coming up in the works of especially Williams.
Two Kinds of Cosmopolitanism: 1965–1985 By the mid-1960s or little later, American mass communication research had established bridgeheads in most West-European countries, and it seemed to represent irresistable worldwide modernisation. There were political as well as intellectual reasons, however, to counter this tendency. Because of the war in Vietnam, in which the U.S. suffered a major military and moral defeat, all things American seemed no longer so glamorous, not even to native Americans. As the mainstream social science, to some extent justifiably, was associated with U.S. imperialist policies, the natural thing for more independent minds was to search for alternatives. These were provided by the European cultural media studies which was part of the New Left and the student movement in France, Britain, the United States and Germany. It is the battle between these two kinds of cosmopolitanism – radical and mainstream – which marks the second twenty-year period.
France had long been the country of controversy where anti-establishment views were not only tolerated but also cherished. It was also the country where intellectuals and high culture mattered. France had given rise to modernism in visual arts, and after World War II it was pioneering in cultural politics sponsored by President de Gaulle’s comrade-in-arms, André Malraux, himself a well-known novelist turned into an art historian before becoming Minister of Culture. All these trends still enjoyed wide currency when France entered the 1960s. Intellectuals were competing with technocrats, administrative and academic, in analysing French society and culture. Modernism in literature (nouveau roman) and cinema (the New Wave) gave French culture the prominence it badly missed since the capital of fine arts, with Abstract Expressionism, had moved from Paris to New York. And to crown all this, structuralism became the name of the game around 1966. To draw implications of this background for media studies, I will concentrate on the changes in mainstream media studies inspired by the French and continued by others as sort of a Radical International was formed during the heyday of political modernism from the mid-1960s to the turn of the 1980s. There were two things that made French media scholarship contagious: its opposition to established academic rules, and its search for modernised human sciences.
Even if filmology had been able to establish contacts with the French university system, innovative figures like Morin and Barthes had found themselves rather on the periphery of the academic world. Barthes’ writings of the early 1960s still enraged established luminaries. It is here that the role of film studies assumed its importance. The maverick Cahiers du cinéma, idolising Hollywood already in the fifties, had started a radical tradition turning also against academic pretensions of scientificity in film studies. The highly influential French writing on the cinema, to which Christian Metz gave academic respactability, was then not organised around university departments or even scholarly journals but more general-interest film journals like Cahiers du cinéma and Cinéthique, which became avenues of theoretical enquiry. The names in these heated debates – Jean-Louis Baudry, Jean-Louis Comolli, Pierre Oudart – soon travelled across the Channel and the Atlantic, even if they did not cross the Rhine as automatically. It is this kind of pre- or extra-professional media studies more in line with the tradition of public intellectuals which gave France her finest hour. Another offensive against the kind of science represented by the empiricism of American mass communication research completed the strategy.
In order to propose an alternative to influences from the other side of the Atlantic, Barthes, Morin and others had founded the journal Communications in 1961 (for details, see Mattelart & Mattelart 1986). During the 1960s and 1970s, Communications – starting with the pathbraking issue 4 in 1964 including Barthes’ ’Rhetoric of the Image’ and ’Elements of Semiology’ – became the channel through which seminal articles concerned with literary and media semiotics captured worlwide attention. Phenomenology was replaced by structuralism as the centre towards which all the ideas tended to gravitate. The success story of structuralism is closely associated with the visibility of the French in media studies. With Cahiers du cinéma and Communications influencing American, British and German new orientations within mass communication studies, an alternative kind of cosmopolitanism was proposed to the one diffused by American mainstream media research.
As in the case of American mass communication research, the French variant was more international in its effects than in its origins. France, thus, exported more than imported. This can be substantiated if we look closer at the combination of structuralism, psychonalysis and Marxism characteristic of the French innovation. While it is true that, by the 1960s, structuralism (structural linguistics), psychoanalysis and Marxism were international currents with no specific home country, it is also true that a certain ’Frenchising’ was involved – especially in psychoanalysis and Marxism. Jacques Lacan’s version of Freud as well as Louis Althusser’s one of Marx won the day. It is telling that, despite the undeniable convergence of theoretical interests, the Frankfurt School never attracted specific attention in France during the hectic years of the sixties and seventies. The interpretation of Freud and Marx made by Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse differed from that by Lacan and Althusser, but there was also French ignorance of parallel developments in Germany and the United States, which was the academic environment of Marcuse.
That there were no linguistic reasons for the narrowing of the focus, only intellectual and sociological ones, seems to be true on most occassions. Still, the case of Christian Metz (1930–1990), who was with Barthes the most visible French media scholar in Europe and North-America at the time, can be seen as an example pointing to the opposite direction. Metz was well-read in the history of film studies. He acted importantly as a link between the by then half-forgotten postwar filmology, which had pioneered among other things in semiotics, and the sixties orientations (see also Marie 1987). Even if true that Metz, despite his academic studies in the German language, did not seem to be conversant with contemporary German-speaking film research, he did have lively contacts with the Italians, though. The filmological tradition and its idea of a scholarly network connecting European media researchers around the core of France, Italy and Germany still prevailed with Metz to some extent.
The French cultural version of the study of media clashing with the American social-research one received a warm welcome in Britain. There were extra-academic as well as academic reasons for the receptiveness. Between 1958 and 1973, Britain experienced a cultural revolution disconnecting the country from its Victorian past of conformity (Marwick 1986). The British became more cosmopolitan, but also more European as the entry into the European Common Market in 1973 testified to. The sixties witnessed also the institutional breakthrough of media studies as new university departments and research centres were established in the wake of the revolution in higher education – notably, in Birmingham in 1963 and in Leicester in 1966 (see Corner 1998 for greater details). In contrast to France and Germany, Britain had one obvious handicap as fas as media studies is concerned: it had no major sociological classic to offer (Anderson 1968). This makes it all the easier to understand that British media studies, in its search for critical perspectives, turned to France. The emergence of British cultural studies as a new contender after the turn of the 1970s illustrates the mixture of national and international influences involved.
The British cultural studies of the 1970s, in Stuart Hall’s (1980a) interpretation, was a combination of British and French trajectories. With their studies of British working-class culture, Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart and E.P. Thompson had initiated a culturalist, experientially grounded view on culture and media, which was confronted with French structuralism and its linguistically based theoretical anti-humanism. In other words, the British re-formed the French debate between phenomenology and structuralism, with structuralism gaining the upper hand for a while. But in terms of this study, the French relationship between centrifugal and centripetal forces was reversed on the other side of the Channel. Even if Williams and Hoggart had been prescient in inaugurating cultural studies, it was the French structuralism, with its heavy emphasis on language as the constitutive element of culture, which in the long run proved the more fertile inspiration. It was only during the next phase that British cultural studies once more turned inward by going back to the British tradition of anthropology and empirical research.
Some further evidence can be adduced in illustrating the British sojourn in cosmopolitanism during this period. Probably because of the increased amount of translations of and attention devoted to Continental social and cultural thought within the New Left, especially in New Left Review (see Davies 1993), both Williams and Hoggart became more conscious of their kindred spirits abroad. There is in this respect a highly revealing piece by Williams (1970), written in 1969, where he admits, for the first time to my knowledge, that the Frankfurt School – Marcuse in the thirties – had anticipated what he was trying to achieve. Also Hoggart (1970), whose post-1950s work did not surface in the debates of the field, linked British cultural studies to the classical sociology of Weber as well as to the contemporary semiotics of Barthes and Umberto Eco. All this receptiveness to influences coming from various foreign sources, historical and contemporary, is confirmed by Hall’s (1980c) description of the internal study groups and debates in the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies.
As in France, it was film studies that spearheaded the new directions taken by media research in Britain (Corner 1998). The British counterpart to Cahiers du cinéma and Cinéthique was Screen, which had an imporant role in keeping track of the latest developments in France. The contributors to Screen were well qualified for this; Stephen Heath, eg, had intimate connections with Paris intellectuals. Actually, Screen was the main channel through which French influences gained high visibility in the English-speaking world of film and media studies. In retrospect, Screen was significant in two ways in speading internationalism among the British media studies community.
First, because Britain lacked her own major tradition of film studies, journals like Sight and Sound and Movie notwithstanding, the film scholars were more eager to connect with foreign contacts – there was no Williams or Hoggart to look back on. As American mass communication research had little to offer to anyone interested in the cinema, France was an obvious option – it was only later that U.S. film studies rose to undeniable heights. The so-called Screen Theory did not live on to see the next period, but given the increasing Anglo-American dominance of cultural studies from the mid-1980s on, when France withered away as a worthwhile partner, the legacy of Screen was potentially more inclusive, in terms of Europe at least. Second, the kind of Contemporary Film Theory lambasted, admittedly not without some justification, by American contenders for intellectual dominance (especially Carroll 1988), had a wide geocultural perspective because it was much more conscious of history than what was to succeed it. Structuralism was not a fashion born in Paris in the 1960s, but it had travelled from Geneva (Saussure) via St. Petersburg/Leningrad (Russian Formalism) to Prague (Jan Mukarovský) and to New York (Roman Jakobson in emigration). In addition, political modernists could trace their ancestry back to the debates in the Weimar Republic (Brecht versus Lukács) and the Soviet Union (Vertov and Eisenstein). When film theory was replaced by empirical audience research, all this vanished from the scene.
By the turn of the 1960s, the optimism of mass communication research exuded in the late forties and early fifties no longer prevailed in America – the age of the pioneers had come to an end. Whereas Carl Hovland (1948) still looked forward to not so distant a future where, by the accumulation of research data with the help of increasingly sophisticated experimental designs, communication research would have solid empirical bases for its theoretical generalisations, Bernard Berelson (1959) saw the field in disarray. It is a tribute to the vitality of U.S. academic culture that in this situation, assisted by the epochal political and social upheavals of the sixties narrowing the wide transatlantic gulf, it gave rise to a different kind of media studies. Starting from the political, social and cultural background helps understand the general logic.
The 1960s witnessed America more divided than it had ever been in the history of the country (Woods 2005, 270). The barriers were defined by class, race and gender as well as by education. This can be demonstrated by the case of the student movement and counterculture, which were of paramount importance for the rise of alternative conceptions of mass media. The youth had been a major political force in the communist and fascist movements of the early 20th century (Mann 1995), and the ’68ers’ were the last representatives in this lineage. The students owed their potential political import to their hugely increased numbers in the wake of the education revolution, which filled universities in America as it did in Europe. In America those enrolled made a class difference, however. Namely, the war in Vietnam was mainly fought by the working-class youth, while the junior members of middle- and upper middle-class evaded draft by university studies (Woods 2005). This gave the American student movement and counterculture a distinctly middle-class orientation which had more to do with life style and cultural experimentation than identification with the workers and their battles like, particularly, in France and Italy. The so-called politics of identity, which was to play a visible role in the next period, was one of its main consequences.
Breaking the consensus and conformity of postwar America was visible also in culture, especially in popular culture. The studio era of Hollywood came to an end, and influences from the European New Wave could be seen in the American cinema. Actually, popular culture was divided in two between politically conservative and progressive orientations (Gitlin 1988). In addition, network television news was one of the channels through which suspicions concerning the military course taken in the Vietnam war were voiced. This gave a new meaning to mainstream mass media as a means of collective expression of deeply felt sentiments and opinions. All this was relevant for academic life, because the film and television became popular subjects which, when given sufficient place in the curriculum, could attract cohorts of students to the college – a fact that was not unimportant especially for the humanities competing with social science faculties for enrollments (Andrew 1984).
American media studies responded to these changes in two ways which widened its intellectual and geocultural scope. Much more attention was devoted to pre-1940s traditions of American scholarship, and contemporary French innovations were wholeheartedly adopted. The former had to do with the social-science flank of media studies, while the latter gave a big push to the neglected humanities. I will treat them separately as two kinds of indications of the new cosmopolitanism.
As we have seen, Lazarsfeld and others had skipped over earlier American sociology and social theory interested in mass communication. In view of the interpretation strategy adopted in this survey, isolationist and nationalist motives had played a not insignificant part in determining their omission. In the atmosphere of the 1960s and after, such inhibitions, however, no longer had binding force. The cases of James W. Carey and Lawrence Grossberg may illustrate the trend.
Carey started his wholesale assault on mass communication research in the mid-1970s, and continued it during the eighties in the Journal of Communication ’Ferment’ issue (Carey 1983) and elsewhere (see the collection Carey 1992). Drawing on John Dewey and pragmatism Carey envisaged an alternative to the mass communication research that had dominated the field during the postwar decades. For Carey, going back to the origins of American communication thought was, at the same time, a way of embracing schools of thought more in tune with scholarly open-mindedness. The debate between Dewey and Lippmann in the 1920s was for him a debate between two conceptions of American democracy, but also those of the life of the mind: one stressing dialogue; the other, monologue. Lawrence Grossberg, who had studied in Birmingham at the cradle of the British cultural studies, was to develop later a much more radical departure from mass communication research leaning, especially, on Gilles Deleuze. In one of his first articles, Grossberg (1979a) emphatically contrasted American mass communication research to various cultural strands in Canadian (Innis, McLuhan), British (Williams) and German (Habermas), but also US (Carey) mass media studies and communication theory. His sophisticated typology of communication philosophies from the same period (Grossberg 1979b) also testifies to the emergence of the new transatlantic connection.
Yet, it was the rise of first film studies and then the new television studies that proved still more significant. Some of the reasons are obvious (cf. Andrew 1984). The study of the film was located in the humanities which by their nature were more internationally oriented – you could hardly study languages or literature without making acquintance with non-American habits of mind and ways of life. It was possible to conduct mass communication research in the United States without ever reading foreign articles or books (actually, this was the normal case), but in film studies first affiliated with literary studies departments before gaining its own independence the situation was totally different. European, both Franco- and Anglophone, ideas pervaded American film studies during the sixties and seventies as Cahiers du cinéma and Screen were closely consulted. It was the influence of film studies on the study of television that simultaneously changed what had been an effects-oriented part of mass communication research into a more culturally focused approach. As a consequence, American television studies broke with its national confines and made contacts with especially British scholarship.
The clash between the two internationalisms – mainstream American and countervailing European – in Germany during 1965–1985 was maybe the most complicated intance. It is for this reason that I have reserved the comparison of their specific trajectories for the German case. The battle for the identity and direction of German media studies was fought between three paradigms of which Zeitungswissenschaft was the most nationally minded, Publizistikwissenschaft was considerably attracted to American empirical research (assuming, accordingly, the name of Kommunikationswissenschaft), and the closest counterpart of Medienwissenschaft could be found in French, British or American film – and cultural – studies. Concentrating on two waves or fronts of scholarly debating, I try to clarify the changing and different roles American and European ideas exerted on German disciplinary decisions. The first debate was a corollary to the famous positivism debate in German sociology, while mass-culture critique provided the backdrop for the second one.
Between circa 1962 and 1973, maybe the most sophisticated epistemological debate ever in media studies was conducted in Publizistik and Rundfunk und Fernsehen, the leading German journals in the field. Ever since Adorno had started in 1957 contesting American social science, which was the issue when Adorno and Popper confronted each other during the annual conference of the German Sociological Association in 1961 (for the details of the positivism debate, see Heller 1978), the ground was laid for other disciplines to duplicate the controversy. Of course, the Germans had an uncomparable record in discussing issues concerned with the specifiticy of human and social sciences – there was an unbroken continuity, hardly cut by the 1933–1945 interval, since Dilthey, Rickert, and Weber. The high quality of the German media-studies debate of the sixties and seventies clearly mirrored all these national characteristics. Leaning on four specific contributions I will try to indicate shortly how the Germans reacted to the new internationalism of American mass communication research. The deviding line went between those whose perspective was purely national and those who accepted the challenge.
It is not surprising that the representatives of Zeitungswissenschaft like Hans Wagner (1965) hardly paid attention to the American conception of media. The prewar science of the press had been many things the Americans considered as unscientific or at least uninteresting: it was openly normative, historically oriented, and concerned with the practice of journalism. The only foreign reference in Wagner’s otherwise intelligently crafted article, which gives a succinct summary of half a century of theoretical discussions, is to Gustave Le Bon. It is not as obvious that those – like Robert H. Schmidt (1966), and Wilfried Scharf with Otto Schlie (1973) – who had a Publizistikwissenschaft orientation were equally ignorant of non-German ideas. Schmidt defends a republican definition of Publizistikwissenschaft, ie, he sees the discipline as a normative enterprise the function of which is linked to democratic values – but Germany had been no bastion of republicanism, and the reader would have expected references to Anglo-Saxon examples (this was Hagemann’s strategy in the late forties). Scharf and Schlie, for their part, try to navigate between Marxist Grand Theory, functionalist middle-range theory and empirical verificationism. But even if the argument is elaborately developed, the authors – after the tumultuous sixties – have nothing to say of similar ideas in other European countries or in the United States.
Franz Dröge’s and Winfried B. Lerg’s (1965) contribution is different. It reveals that in Münster in 1963–4 a study group devoted its efforts to come to terms with American mass communication research, and the article evidently summarises its findings. In a fashion quite unique in the field, Dröge and Lerg move between American, from Cooley and Park to Lazarsfeld and Katz, and German approches. They are also aware of North-American dissidents like Dallas W. Smythe, who had as one of their strongholds Audio-Visual Communication Review. Furthermore, the authors recognise with keen eye the dilemma with which mass communication research was wrestling when the over-optimism of the pioneering years proved to be just that, a utopia – the change of ambition from theory-formation to model-building was the logical next step. All this is spiced up in the article with perceptive comments on the relationship of media studies in Europe and America as well as on the social background of mass communication research explaining its problematic.
Parallelling the debate in German media studies on the proper conception of science applicable to the field, the important issue of mass culture or culture industry, closer to those in the humanities section of media studies, aroused academic fervour, too. This is how the third line of German media studies, Medienwissenschaft, was born. As in France, Britain and America, the study of the cinema played also in Germany the inspirational role. Press studies was not by its nature attracted to films, but also those in the Publizistikwissenschaft did not take audiovisual media seriously (cf. Hickethier 1995) – despite the work of Traub and Hagemann, who had been advocating the study of film and television against the majority opinion. This left considerable room for those implicated in more up-to-day considerations – what they needed was just the right moment. It seemed to dawn with the student movement whose influences reverbated through German society as well as human sciences. In order to catch the sense of this conjuncture, outlining the social and political background briefly seems to be in place.
After a short period of self-criticism the postwar Germany soon turned her back on the Nazi years, and a collective amnesia or repression ensued (Glaser 1991). The rapid reconstruction with the economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) seemed to justify avoiding the memory of the Holocaust, and the Cold War with Germany divided made anti-communism more important. When we add to this the continuing dominance of prewar classicist and authoritarian ethos in the German university up to the sixties (cf. Habermas 1991), we can understand why American mass communication research could be welcomed as a salutary counterpoise, but also why Marxisant thought defying the silence on Nazism, the ban on radical Left ideas as well as the increasing Americanisation of Germany could enlist active support. The Medienwissenschaft of the 1965–1985 period was part of this landscape.
Although Germany resembled France, Britain and the United States in the way film studies in combination with sort of cultural studies (in the general sense) paved the way for an alternative conception of media studies, Germany was more like France in its resistance to foreign influences. But unlike the French structuralist and Marxist theory, the German Medienwissenschaft lacked qualities that would have made it exportable to other countries. To account for this I take up two possible and interlocking reasons in need of further inspection. First, media semiotics in Germany was not self-evidently associated with structuralism and Barthes’ cultural critique or Metz’ taxonomies. It was introduced by scholars in the Berlin Technical University such as Friedrich Knilli, whose book on film and television analysis applying semiotics (Knilli & Reiss 1971) owes much more to classical rhetorics than to Saussure. Second, as Germany had a long tradition of her own in cultural theory and Marxism, going back to the German Idealism from which Marx started, it was less urgent in Berlin or Munich to follow the model of Paris, London or Birmingham. The upshot of all this was that, despite its original insights, Medienwissenschaft remained somewhat inward-looking without making the effort to coordinate sufficiently national and international work in the field.
’Old’ and ’New’ Europeanism: 1985–2005 Soon after the turn of the 1970s it became clear that the enduring effects of the rebellious 1960s turned out to be ambivalent. In some respects the decade was a closing period, in others it initiated a new beginning. The duality applies also to media studies. By the early 1980s at the latest, the field had restructured itself, and this was felt also in its international relations – in the balance of forces between centrifugal metropolitan centres and centripedal peripheries turned towards the centres. The world hegemony of American mass communication research, symbolised by its links with the UNESCO, was past and gone. Even if the combination of structuralism, Marxism and psychoanalysis did not outlive the period, it was powerful enough to change the course of mainstream media studies. What came out of the spirit of 1968 living on borrowed time in the seventies was British cultural studies transformed into an international movement of unprecedented success – with some major exceptions, though. It is the demarcation line between, on the one hand, the ’New’ Europe of countries like Britain with close relations with America, and, on the other, the ’Old’ Europe of countries like Germany and France more committed to Continental specificity, that now determines the parameters of cosmopolitanism – European or Anglo-American. Because British cultural studies set the tune for the period this time, telling its story comes first.
Cultural media studies in Britain accomplished in the third period what American and French scholarhip had achieved in the first and second period respectively: it became a dominant power on the world map of media research. Given its modest institutional start in the sixties and the role on the receiving end of international influences in the seventies, this was a remarkable feast. Understanding it gives one a clue to understand the present media-studies world, too. In explaining the success story of British cultural studies, with an emphasis on its output on media, we are confronted at the start with a metamorphosis: the Britons gained world fame by turning back to their past European orientations and leaning on the former Commonwealth. Comparing briefly the ’old’ British cultural studies of the seventies with the ’new’ one of the post-mid-eighties makes this point.
During the early eighties, both the intellectual geography and object of British cultural studies changed. As testified by Hall (1980c), those at the Birmingham centre were in the 1970s well-read in classical sociology and contemporary trends on the Continent. This was also the orientation of Hoggart and Williams at the time, as we have seen. A third classic of the field, E.P. Thompson (1978), however, mounted a heavy attack on the Athusserianism – that is, ’Frenchness’ – of British scholarship. In itself this was a minor incident, but it resonated with the times: the ’Age of Theory’ of 1965–1980 (Eagleton 2003) was approaching its end, and with it the appeal of foreign, or at least non-English speaking, attractions diminished. A similar reversal was occassioned when working-class culture as the main focus gave place to television culture. Comparing Reading Television co-authored by John Fiske and John Hartley (1978) with John Fiske’s Television Culture (1987) is in this respect instructive. Whereas the former book is still interested in the differences between British and American television, the latter one addresses a – supposedly – homogeneous international television culture, which happens to be totally dominated by Anglo-American fare.
There were political, social and cultural grounds for the reversal. By the end of the 1970s, a major change in the political climate was in the air. Actually, Britain was, from 1979 on, the first to enter into the ’New Times’ of neo-liberalism under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher’s several reforms transformed the social and intellectual conditions of academic research in general and media studies in particular (for the background, cf. Hitchcock 2003). I take up two developments. First, Thatcher’s policy of deregulation and anti-unionism accelarated the commercialisation of the media landscape undermining public service television, but it also affected the composition of the working-class and its sources of militancy. It is, then, only logical that Stuart Hall (cf. Hall & Jacques 1989) was among those proposing a change in traditional left politics, for which the turn in cultural studies provided theoretical ammunition. Second, by extending market practices to academic life Thatcher threatened the intellectual basis of research communities. As a consequence, a number of British renowned media scholars – so-called ’Thatcher refugees’ – had to emigrate. By speading the message of British cultural media studies to the English-speaking world – Australia and the United States, in particular – the emigrants helped consolidate cultural studies as sort of a new intellectual ’British Commonwealth’.
Ultimately, cultural studies’ change of course was based on a thesis concerning the new status culture has assumed in postmodern times (see, eg, Hall 1997). This gives mass media heigthened actuality because it is through them – and especially television – that meanings are distributed globally and assimilated locally. That the emphasis reinforced rather than countered the new Anglo-American cosmopolitanism, can be made plausible by the role reception research assumed in the reformed cultural studies. Ironically, Hall’s (1972; in the revised version 1980b) original piece on the encoding and decoding of television messages had nothing to do with reception studies as such; it was an application of Marx’ social theory to the media. Hall’s seventies ambitions became, however, totally irrelevant when cultural studies, in the midst of reformation, ’went empirical’. It is here that Thompson’s critique of ’Frenchness’ referred to earlier proved prophetical. Namely, in the 1980s and the 1990s mainstream cultural studies returned – in the form of the highly visible reception research – to the British traditions of empiricism and anthropology. It was in this way that the new Anglo-American classics – of Hall, Morley, Bennett and others (see the list in Barker & Beezer 1992) – replaced the French names.
British influences penetrated into America with varying response. The mass communication researchers continuing the 1950s tradition hardly paid any attention to voices from abroad, while those committed to the 1960s revaluation were more sympathetic. It is here that the specific context of America in comparison with Britain acquires importance. Namely, Britain had had a relatively weak student movement, whereas in America the student activism could, for a short while, assume large-scale political significance. Despite the conservative backlash beginning in the early 1970s and continuing with increasing momentum in the 1980s, this memory never died out. Instead, the battle over the legacy of the sixties – in the form of ’Culture and Science Wars’ – became in the late eighties and in the nineties a major theme in national politics (see, eg, Woods 2005). It had somewhat unexpected repercussions on the intellectual world-view of the U.S. media scholars in the cultural-studies camp.
Alternative trends in popular culture – like critical Hollywood films, self-conscious rock music, or television journalism not repeating official sources – had been part of sixties and early seventies counter-cultural common sense in America and elsewhere. This was crystallised in the way audiovisual mass media – the film and television – had become legitimate objects of study in the full sense of the word. By the early 1980s, the virtually exclusive interest in popular media was rapidly speading. It was against this emphasis that the new conservatives turned with vigour (for greater detail, see eg Burns 1991). As my main concern here is not with the cultural philosophies of both camps per se, but with the degree of nationalism and cosmopolitanism they manifested, I will take a somewhat liberal attitude towards the conservatives. Namely, the main thread in diatribes like Allen Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1988; on the Bloom debate, see Miller 1997) was in defence of classical high culture and against ’popular culturalism’, certainly, but it was also in defence of a specific cosmopolitan outlook on life associated with Ancient Greece. Or, American media scholars protecting the achievements of the sixties by investing their energies in popular media, and by turning away in increasing numbers from more ’elitist’ concerns, were, as far as transatlantic relations are concerned, also narrowing their perspective more and more on the English-speaking historical present.
The atmosphere of ’polical correctness’ prevailing during this period on U.S. campuses is a unique phenomenon without a counterpart in Europe. The distress of academic institutions increasingly turned into corporate universities, however, is a common theme everywhere after neo-liberalist policies, equating society with the market place, really took off in the early 1980s. This had led also in America to the deterioration of academic working conditions, in two senses at least. First, the part-time faculty in proportion to tenured professors have skyrocketed, which means a far less stable research environment for more academics (Nelson 1997). Second, the difference between first-class research universities and forlorn small colleges has become ever bigger, which amounts to the drastic diversification of career chances depending on where you land in (Herman 2000). Even lacking specific empirical studies on the subject, it is easy to see how these trends have reinforced concentration on research topics with high visibility. In film studies, for instance, doctoral students working on a ’marketable’ subject are, already at the start of their work, approached by commercial publishers for contracts (Altman 1991). In sum, this gives indirect evidence in support of the argument that – American – cultural studies, which is heavily driven by the publishing houses (cf. Grossberg 1996), is contributing to the ’Anglo-Americanisation’ of media studies.
While the commercialisation of higher education is an international phenomenon, the Culture and Science Wars have more to with what Lawrence Grossberg (1989) has called the ’crisis of American self-representation’. Grossberg delienates three periods in the 20th century – the 1920-1930s, the 1940-1950s, and the 1980s – when the Americans, American media researchers included, have explicitly tried to disentangle themselves from European influences. Grossberg’s analysis explains why the first period in our analysis – the rise in dominance of mass communication research – and the third period – the rise in dominance of cultural studies – resemble each others so much. The common denominator between them boils down to the establishment of an own reseach agenda which, this time, is more Anglo-American than purely American. There is, still, something specifically American in the way the British cultural studies of the 1970s, backed by the French maîtres, was tranformed into American cultural studies in the 1980s. To adapt the French into the American thought a certain decontextualisation had to be forced on them, so that Foucault could be read in the light of liberalism, for instance (Easthope 1988). By the turn of the 1990s, the same increasing distance to France was visible in film studies too, with explicit attempts at seeing the field as kind of an American specialty (although outside the cultural studies consensus; cf. Bordwell 1996).
The ’Old’ Europe of France and Germany has remained to this day relatively indifferent to the allurements of Anglo-American cultural studies, and this has cemented the break of international communication in media studies between the ’Old’ and the ’New’ Europe (including, by definition, America). I will try to analyse the different logics behind French and German developments.
The paradox of France, as to its visibility in the media-studies world, lies in the fact that those names foreigners have found intriguing – like Barthes, Metz or Baudrillard – have had minor legitimacy on the national scene. Barthes received a professorship when well past 60 years old, and Metz never got one. This general academic attitude has been parallelled by the mainstream media-studies community which has not been enthusiastic about the kind of cultural- and media-philosophical or semiotico-aesthetic approaches typical from André Bazin through Gilbert Cohen-Séat to Jean Baudrillard. As a matter of fact, even Pierre Bourdieu chastened this sort of ’mass-mediological’ speculation in one of his earlier pieces (Bourdieu & Passeron 1963). The other side of the coin is that the institutionalisaton of media studies in France, despite the early entry of filmology into Sorbonne, did not happen before the 1970s and 1980s (for details, see Delcourt 1986; Devèze 2001) – that is, late when considering Britain, not to speak of Germany and the United States. And what is more, the French established an internationally unique discipline of information and communication sciences (sciences de l’information et de la communication) which does have connections with natural sciences (like biology with its interest in information theory) but not, as far as I can see, with film studies.
What has, in addition, lessened the universal attractiveness of the French is the passing of the high noon of her intellectual grandeur. By the mid-1980s, with Sartre, Barthes, Lacan and Foucault dead and the néophilosophes on the rise, France was well on the way to become a country ’like the others’, to borrow Antoine Compagnon’s (1999) phrase. This was visible in the new orientations in philosophy and social science, when Jürgen Habermas, Paul Ricoeur or Hannah Arendt gradually replaced Freud, Marx and Nietzsche as sources of inspiration (Dosse 2000). During this period, France was no longer able to produce new theoretical or literary movements to capture the attention of others (Compagnon 1999); and, towards the millennium, a sense of decline pervaded French public life. It is against this background, I think, that we can gauge more adequately the share of international contacts in French media studies. To make a rough estimate, I focus on a few individual cases and approaches.
As depicted previously, American mass communication research never came to dominate the French scene, but neither did Anglo-American cultural studies. This is somewhat paradoxical, while film theory had been one of the main sources of inspiration for feminism, the bulwark of cultural studies. Despite her pioneering innovations in film scholarship, France did not, however, generate feminist film and media studies, and the critique of seventies film theory, which in Britain in no insignificant way contributed to the ’empirical turn’ to reception studies, came here from another direction. The double critique of both mass communication research and semiotical film theory was, namely, presented by the so-called Grenoble School (cf. Flichy 1980). Starting in the late 1970s and gaining more visibility during the third period, the Grenoble School of Bernard Miège, Patrice Flichy and others has concentrated on the economic and technological aspect of culture industries. Partly this came close to the kind of stress laid on everyday life à la cultural studies (see Flichy 1991), partly it bore marks of seventies Marxism with interest in the political economy of the media, and partly it corresponded to the media-technological works of Germans like Siegfried Zielinski (see below). Still, despite the international perspective of its representatives, the Grenoble school has not been attentive to cultural studies, as it had not been to the Frankfurt school – the concept of culture industry surfaced in it through Morin, who used it in L’esprit du temps, not through Horkheimer and Adorno (cf. Mattelart & Mattelart 1986).
There is something similar with the médiologie or mediology developed by Régis Debray since the late 1970s (see Debray 2000). To anyone well versed in the history of media and communication research, Debray’s idea of reading world history in terms of media sounds very McLuhanesque. Still, there is in Debray little sense of continuity with Innis or McLuhan – not to speak of the Enlightenment tradition of Turgot, Condorcet and others to which the Canadians belonged (for this little known connection, see Heyer 1988). The deficit in the import of ideas by Debray corresponds to the low visibility of his mediological work abroad (a translation in German has, though, come out) – although Debray, Ernesto ’Che’ Guevara’s comrade-in-arms and a personal advisor to President François Mitterand, has had a chequered career far outstriping the borders of media studies and France.
Armand Mattelart, to take up my last example of French media scholarship, is of another kind. An idiosyncratic figure hard to categorise pouring out books at regular intervals, Mattelart is probably, along with Werner Faulstich in Germany, the most internationally oriented media scholar – at least when judged by the range of interest in different cultures and the extent to which he is acquainted with the scholarly work done in the world. All this is amply testified by his nineties monographs like Le communication-monde (1992) and L’invention de la communication (1994), which include a wealth of details amassed from highly different sources combined with perceptive overviews. It is no wonder that Mattelart is the only contemporary French media scholar whose books have been translated in numbers into English (but not into German).
The political and intellectual backlash against the aspirations of the sixties and early seventies was the most dramatic in Germany, which experienced a reactive atmosphere reminiscent of McCarthyism some twenty years earlier in America. Because of the terrorist groups sparked off by the student movement, legislation was passed banning anti-constitutionally minded scholars from securing academic posts. The conservative Wende at the turn of the 1980s perfected intellectually what the parlamentary organs had accomplished politically. In consequence, several of the central names of German critical media research – Dieter Prokop, Franz Dröge, Wulf W. Hund, Klaus Kreimeier (see Robes 1990 for a good overview of this forgotten generation) – either were silenced or left the scene voluntarily during the 1980s, while some others, like Werner Faulstich, adopted new ideas and remained at the centre-stage. That the ousting of researchers leaning to the left was politically motivated, could be seen when whole departments, like the one in Osnabrück (see Paech 1987), was closed down. To assess the specificity of German media studies in terms of its internationality from 1985 to the present, I’ll try to illustrate why Anglo-American cultural studies has been able to make so little headway in Germany. This has had to do with the Medienwissenschaft tradition with one foot in literary (theatre) studies, the other in technological research.
That the German media studies, when entering the third period, could afford to keep its distance from the new developments in Britain and the U.S. was due to the fact that the polarity between Publizistik/Kommunikationswissenschaft and Medienwissenschaft had a similar role in Germany to that between mass communication research and French-inspired film-theory-cum-cultural-media-studies in the English-speaking countries. Medienwissenschaftlers were uninspired either by the methods of empirical social research or by its objectives, but they placed no greater confidence in the traditional humanities of the Geisteswissenschaften tradition. In this, they were assisted by film studies, the Frankfurt School, and the new interest in semiotics. Medienwissenschaft, as opposed to Publizistik/Kommunikationswissenschaft, was institutionalised by 1984 when a scholarly society of film and television studies (from 2001, as renamed that of media studies) was founded. The late 1980s and the 1990s changed, however, the certainties of the field, when film and television lost their centrality in the self-image of German culturally-minded media scholars. This could be partly credited to the heavy technological orientation in Medienwissenschaft.
As said before, the Berlin Technical University had played a distinctive role in introducing new media thought into Germany at the turn of the 1970s. It is then no coincidence that by 1990 one could see the emergence of a new major orientation in the work of Norbert Bolz, Friedrich Kittler, and Siegfried Zielinski. Kittler is of the them the internationally best-known, but Zielinski serves my purposes better. Namely, Zielinski’s early work (Zielinski 1989) testifies to the way the Medienwissenschaft of the second period was gradually transformed into that of the third period. Zielinski’s main thesis, in his ambitious reading of 20th century media history, is that the cinema and television are already historical phenomena surpassed by new technological innovations. Although Zielinski’s militant avant-gardism had been somewhat mitigated by the time the English translation of the book came out (see the new post-script in Zielinski 1999), this is just what happened to Medienwissenschaft. By the new millennium, it had changed course by expanding its identity to include new media increasingly to the detriment of ’old’ ones.
Despite Kittler’s and Zielinski’s visibility in the English-speaking world of media-technological and -philosophical reasearch, the Germans’ share of the world exports in the field remains modest. Besides, it has been argued that they are insufficiently acquainted with what is done beyond their borders (see Wulff 1995, which is concerned with film and television studies). It may be so that Medienwissenschaft, which was more of a national, that is original, phenomenon in the second period than Publizistik/Kommunikationswissenschaft turned to America for inspiration, continues to cultivate its own themes and approaches, while its more mainstream counterpart perseveres in the kind of empirical research that, in principle, crosses the Atlantic easily. Still, there are such idiosyncratic cases like Dieter Prokop and Werner Faulstich who, like Armand Mattelart in France, are among the most international in the field, but who, unlike Mattelart, have found no response in the English-speaking book-markets. As versatile figures with a wide range of knowledge, they represent with vigour the ’Old’ Europe of media studies.
One hit hard by the conservative backlash in Germany in the 1980s, Prokop returned to scholarly work in the 1990s. His recent three volumes on ’new critical media studies’ (see especially, Propop 2000) are animated by his background in the Frankfurt school while confronting polemically with systems theory, which is solidly rooted in Germany, and cultural studies. Compared to the dramatically decreased general level of knowledge concerned with the Frankfurt school in cultural studies, the case of Prokop points out the fact that, in the scolarly communication of the field, there are such gaps and blind spots as the make the idea of ’two Europes’ more than plausible. Faulstich, for his part, with an output of some 20-30 monographs to this day (I will return shortly to his scheduled six-volume history of the media), would no doubt figure prominently in the scholarly public sphere were he a Briton or an American. Faulstich fared better than Prokop in the post-seventies conditions, but unlike Prokop he turned to systems theory, which makes his contributions difficult to export to the cultural studies heartland – even though he originally shared a not dissimilar cultural approach (he seems to be the first to use the expression ’media culture’ in the early 1970s).
Conclusion: For European Cosmopolitanism, or, How to Redefine Internationality There was an adage coming from the 19th century that every intellectual or every civilised man has two fatherlands: the country where he or she was born, and France. After 1945 and by the seventies at the latest, all this remained but a faint memory as the ’American century’ pushed on, and the age of the present globalisation took off. The history of postwar media studies bears witness to this, although in a zigzag way indicative of the development of changing geopolitical and -cultural relations. But as to the status of France and Germany on the world map of media studies, the upshot seems to be monotonous: there hardly is any – namely, when the media studies world is measured by the standards of the undeniable Anglo-American hegemony. Considering the lessons to be drawn from the story just told, the question then arises of whether the present definition of internationality is adequate, and, taking the cause of Europe seriously, whether internationality on another, more Euro-centric, basis would be not only plausible but also welcome. To conclude, I address the issue from three angles: the role of the small European countries craving for Anglo-American recognition; the false idea of identifying internationality with one language; and the challenges the European Union and its science policy face when seemingly an increasing part of European scholars are committed to the Anglo-American axis.
During the 1980s a striking change occurred in the media studies of the Nordic countries like Denmark. Danish media scholars had in the 1970s maintained intimate relations with German and French developments, discussing latest trends as soons as they emerged. One should keep in mind, for instance, that Habermas’ book on public sphere was hotly debated during the seventies as it was translated into Danish some twenty years earlier than into English, and that Danish film scholars of the same period sat at Metz’ seminars in Paris. After the turn of the 1980s, hardly a trace of this legacy prevailed as cultural studies gained prominence assuming a ’New-European’ world-view. The Danes who found publishing outlets in the English-speaking world, like Klaus Bruhn Jensen to whom I will return shortly, were no longer interested in the French and German connections. To understand this, we have to take into account the changed role of national science policies in European small countries.
As part of the neo-liberalist ideology of governance through deregulation after the mid-1980s, market-like practices were increasingly imposed upon universities which had to be made more cost-effective and responsive to business imperatives (for the case of Finland, see Alestalo 1993). To this more general objective was attached the specific goal of aligning research closely to the international standards as defined by the data published by the American-based Institute of Scientific Information, which include a measurement of so-called journal impact factors counted by citations (see Stenius 2003). To become international in the sense spelled out by the new science policy, scholars have to publish in English and in journals covered by the ISI procedures, because the evaluation of research perfomance by university administrators is increasingly based on this source. While the ISI data are heavily biased towards the English-speaking world, as documented carefully in various studies (Paasi 2005; Wæver 1998), for researchers sensitive to their tenure-tracks ’going English’ is of utmost importance. The trend is especially prevalent in European small countries like Finland, Denmark, or the Netherlands – actually, the whole term of ’publishing internationally’ (meaning in English, preferably in the U.S.) is the language of small states on the periphery when these aspire to the recognition of the centre (cf. Wæver 1998).
’New Europe’ consists of countries identitying themselves with the Anglo-American metropolis and turning their backs on the ’Old Europe’ of France and Germany, which, so far, have showed less willingness to compare themselves with the Anglo-Saxons. As ’going international’ has paid well the Nordic countries, which, with Norway and Sweden in the head, have adapted themselves to the Anglo-American publishing practices (cf. Ingwersen 2000), there seem to be no rewards available for them to think over the current asymmetry between the ’New Europe’ and ’Old Europe’ – namely, the fact that scholars in France and Germany keep abreast of developments in the media studies of ’New Europe’ while the opposite does not apply. However, I think there are tangible intellectual rewards to be reaped if we discard the dominant conception of internationality, or, at the minimum, complement it with other dimensions.
The idea of internationality fostering the marginalisation of non-English-speaking research is premised on the assumption that being international is defined by the language scholars use when writing their reports and treatises. In consequence, the British and Americans are born international, while the Germans and Frenchmen attain the status only when switching to the use of a foreign language. This, however, clearly contradicts some basic intuitions as well as empirical facts. Cosmopolitanism, one can argue with good reason, is a state of mind or attitude which people achieve by education and experience – not an innate faculty like the command of the mother tongue. Besides, as several citation analyses reveal, the American scholars in the social sciences are the most autarchically minded. In 1997, the persentage of citations of foreign sources in German, French, and American social sciences was 75.1 %, 74.6 % and 17.2 % respectively (Gingras 2002). As we have seen, the American mass communication researchers of the 1940s and 1950s had even lower level than that. This has to do with the interest in other countries, but also with language skills. The problem is that what suits the Americans is becoming the norm in ’New Europe’, too. To show in some detail how the marginalisation of Europe is taking shape in English-speaking media studies, I will take up for comparison a few recent works grouped around three topics.
The hold over memory, in social life and in scholarship, plays a key role in determining identity. It is, then, crucial how the classics of media studies are introduced to new generations. Not surprisingly, there is a huge difference between Anglo-American and Continental expositions, as represented by Elihu Katz et al. (2003) and Christina Holtz-Bacha with Arnulf Kutsch (2002) respectively. The Katz et al. collection, with 13 separate classical works named, is organised around schools and approaches, of which four are from the English-speaking world with the Frankfurt School representing the rest of the world. Holtz-Bacha and Kutsch, in contrast, present to the reader an array of classics quite evenly distributed between German and English-speaking (with an emphasis on American) authors. One is, though, amazed to find no French titles in the long list of some 200 entries. The negligence is returned in the equally long list of obligaroty reading included in the Hermès (2004, 19–24) special issue on sciences de l’information et de la communication. The French version of classics – admittedly from a wider range of works than merely those concerned with media studies – cites, besides the majority of French books, English and some Italian as well as Spanish titles, but from Germany only those by Jürgen Habermas and Hans Robert Jauss. If there is a difference between the English-speaking and Continental worlds, the Rhine also seems to separate the ’Old Europe’ in two.
Whereas classics remind us of our origins and may not be immediately relevant, handbooks are there to orient research here and now. It is the Weltanschauung of handbooks that, in this sense, seems to reflect more directly what is considered of prime importance in the field at the present. I will consider briefly this time the handbooks edited by Klaus Bruhn Jensen (2002) and by Günter Bentele et al. (2003), and take the Hermès special issue as a substitute for the French-speaking handbook. My main interest lies in the range of references to different languages made by the handbooks – ie, what references are priviledged in terms of the language used. The comparison confirms both of the summary results obtained from the analysis of the classics. On one hand, of the some 1100 references catalogued in the bibliography of the Jensen volume, the overwhelming majority of 98,5 % are in English (only 17 titles are non-English). The reader is thus provided with the impression that all that is relevant in media studies is available in English. On the other hand, both the German and the French surveys have a much more balanced distribution of references between German and French titles respectively, and English ones, even though in both cases the national language visibly dominates. The absence of French references in the German handbook, and vice versa, makes it clear that for both the German and French media studies communities Anglo-American research has to be reckoned with, but not what is going on outer-Rhine.
That the compass of classics, who are included and who and left our, and the available range of sources, in the geographical as well as the language sense of the word, are of scholarly relevance needs no ample justification. Any scientific enterprise is dependent on the quantity and quality of the evidence it can amass. As a consequence, those researchers having at their disposal a narrower range of empirical data, concepts and theories are handicapped in respect to those with access to a richer collection. This continues to be the case with mainstream Anglo-American media studies, both of the mass communication research and the cultural studies variety. The generalisation seems to hold even in such a comparatively unpopular subfield as media history. As recent media histories of the English-speaking group such as Asa Briggs and Peter Burke (2002), and Lyn Gorman and David McLean (2003) testify, there seems to be quite total an ignorance of the the boom in media-historical scholarship in both Germany (especially Faulstich’s ambitious work, cf. Faultisch 1996) and France (Barbier & Bertho Lavenir 2000). In other branches of historiography it goes by itself that, when researching German history for example, you are acquainted with original sources as well as German secondary literature. Not so in the Anglo-American world of media studies, where the use of other languages than English becomes increasingly rare.
Given the increasing Anglo-Americanisation of the ’Neo-European’ media studies community, as symbolised by the near exclusive use of English as the language of both writing and reading, what could the European Union do to foster a more heterogeneous scholarship? The answer is not evident, for two major reasons. First, the science policy of the European Union has had a strong bias towards the natural and technological sciences combined with an instrumental conception of knowledge (see Ruberti & André 1995). In consequence, the problem of the role of science and scholarship in promoting European coherence, and not only its economic competitiveness, has escaped attention. Second, the contacts between Germany and France, the main motors of European political unity, are much less intimate in media studies. Despite the short geographical distance, news travel slowly, if not at all, between Berlin or Münster and Paris or Grenoble.
The historical constraints to European cooperation are not to be taken as givens, however. There are several signs of increase in intra-continental activities. The first European concerence for communication and media reasearch gathered in Amsterdam in November 2005, and a similar event for cinema studies seems to be around the corner. Even the Germans and French have had a joint media studies seminar a couple of years ago (Paech 2003). What is more, these are not isolated phenomena but part of a revival of interest in deliberately promoting European consciousness in scholarship. In different discpilines the urge to this varies, of course. In the social sciences, in which the American dominance is much heavier than in the natural ones, and in which there are considerably more substantial reasons for diversifying the research spectre, a European identity politics is long overdue. The efforts in media studies are amply facilitated by the example given by disciplines like international relations with an unmistakable European self-assurance on the rise (Wæver 1998). But the problem remains on which intellectual and institutional bases European Cosmopolitanism, as I would like to call it, can be established in media studies.
In the modern thought combining, since the German Idealism, themes from Enlightenment and Romanticism, it is not self-defeating to have roots and to aspire to universality at the same time. Unless this is possible, human beings are doomed to a life of islanders without means of transport, so to speak. The modern world, driven by global expansion stretching over centuries, the problem is rather that of balancing localism (’Right or wrong, my country’) and universalism (that which bounds regardless of class, race or gender). No one can escape his or her origins, but no one is totally determined by them, either. What is at stake is not opposing ’European’ scholarship against ’American’ one, but admitting that there are a plurality of ways, partly incluenced by such contingent factors as the milieu in the midst of which one happens to live and the language one happens to speak, to conduct research. In this sense the idea of European Cosmopolitanism is part of the heritage of critical modernism premised on both the multiplicity of intellectual approches and the unity of rational inquiry.
Building a science world conducive to these ends calls for science policy, since laisser-faire is not the best way to promote open dialogue and internationalisation of categories of thought, which belong to true intellectual universalism (Bourdieu 2002). But even if one might agree in principle with the desirability of enhancing European Cosmopolitanism, the practical means supporting it are another question. I will conclude by a short note on the possible routes that are required.
The interaction between European scholars needs channels of communication such as regular conferences, journals and translations. The filmologists were the first to achieve all this during 1947–1961: they organised three Pan-European conferences; they had Revue internationale de filmologie; and they published translations of work done in other languages than French. The first objective has been secured by the Amsterdam 2005 conference referred to earlier. What is called for is the expansion of this avenue to cover more evenly the whole European community of media scholars. With European Journal of Communication since 1986, a scholarly journal exists, too, giving prominence also to topics one does not find in the Anglo-American mainstream (surely, there are others journals like Gazette since 1955). What is possibly needed is a bi- or trilingual journal which might accustom scholars to the coexistence of different national vocabularies and the sight of other foreign languages than English. In its early years, Gazette published Dovifat’s (1956a) article in German, and Publizistik has recently announced that it will give space also to papers in English (Holtz-Bacha et al. 2005). In addition to multi-language journals, a dictionary or something might be in place giving attention to the entirely different connotations such key concepts like ’media’, ’culture’, ’communication’, ’information’, ’popular culture’, or ’public sphere’ have in various European languages (cf. as a comparable reference book in philosophy, Cassin 2004). As to the translations, there should be systematic efforts devoted to the translation of books, on two specific grounds. First, despite the emphasis, laid by university administrators, on journal articles imitated from the natural sciences, the book or monograph remains in disciplines like media studies the main avenue of discourse when dealing with complex and subtle research topics. Second, the loss of nuance and the ensuing increase in simplification when having to express oneself in a foreign language are only kept within bearable proportions in competent translations. One might just think what Critique of Judgement now looked like if Kant had stuck to the Latin of his early career, or how Habermas might have handled the intricacies of Transformation of the Public Sphere had he felt himself constrained to write in English.