Harold innis and the oral tradition

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Harold innis and the oral tradition

He directly influenced Marshall McLuhan and continues to be a central figure in communications theory. His war experience, during which he saw Canadian soldiers used as cannon-fodder by the British, marked him for life: After the war, Innis studied political economy at the University of Chicago where he did his Ph.

As a young professor at the University of Toronto, Innis was concerned that Canadians were being deluged with American material, so he set about to remedy that deficit.

For his first book, The History of the Fur Trade in Canada, he retraced many of the routes of the early fur traders. He went on to write books on the cod fisheries, the dairy industry, and the wheat industry.

Orality - Wikipedia

During his work on political economy, Innis developed the staples thesis, which asserted that the Canadian economy tended to rely on the production of single commodities: As a result, Canada found itself in a dependent, and vulnerable relationship to the major manufacturing nations, first Britain, then the U.

From the end of WWII until his death inInnis worked steadily on an investigation of the social history of communication, studying the communication media of the last years. From the thousand page manuscript which he left at his death came his two pioneering communications works: Empire and Communicationsand The Bias of Communication Most writers are occupied in providing accounts of the content of philosophy, science, libraries, empires, and religions.

Innis invites us instead to consider the formalities of power exerted by these structures in their mutual interaction. He approaches each of these forms of organized power as exercising a particular kind of force upon each of the other components in the complex.

McLuhan appreciated the way Innis used the technological events of history to test the accuracy of both that history and the lessons we have learned from it. Readers discover that "Innis never repeats himself, but that he never ceases to test the action of oral forms of knowledge and social organization in different social contexts.

Innis tests the oral form as it reacts in many different written cultures, just as he tests the effects of time-structured institutions in their varieties of contact with space-oriented societies" x.

Innis would, for example, be fascinated by the Nisga'a treaty negotiations in British Columbia, where a time-biased, marginalized and predominantly oral culture is attempting to communicate with a space-biased culture transfixed by the rule of written law.

To begin our inquiry into this area, he suggests we ask three basic questions: How do specific communication technologies operate?

What assumptions do they take from and contribute to society? What forms of power do they encourage? For Innis, a key to social change is found in the development of communication media.

Harold innis and the oral tradition

He claims that each medium embodies a bias in terms of the organization and control of information. Any empire or society is generally concerned with duration over time and extension in space.

Time-biased media, such as stone and clay, are durable and heavy. Since they are difficult to move, they do not encourage territorial expansion; however, since they have a long life, they do encourage the extension of empire over time.

Innis associated these media with the customary, the sacred, and the moral. Time-biased media facilitate the development of social hierarchies, as archetypally exemplified by ancient Egypt. For Innis, speech is a time-biased medium. Space-biased media are light and portable; they can be transported over large distances.

The functions of writing

They are associated with secular and territorial societies; they facilitate the expansion of empire over space. Paper is such a medium; it is readily transported, but has a relatively short lifespan.

For Innis, the organization of empires seems to follow two major models. The first model is militaristic and concerned with the conquest of space. The second model is religious and concerned with the conquest of time.

Comparatively, the media that have supported the military conquering of space have been lighter, so that the constraints of long distances could be lessened. Those media that supported theocratic empires had relative durability as a major characteristic so that they could support the concepts of eternal life and endless dynasties.

He also believed that change came from the margins of society, since people on the margins invariably developed their own media. The new media allow those on the periphery to develop and consolidate power, and ultimately to challenge the authority of the centre.

Latin written on parchment, the medium of the Christian Church, was attacked through the secular medium of vernaculars written on paper. Oral communication, speech, was considered by Innis to be time-biased because it requires the relative stability of community for face-to-face contact.

Knowledge passed down orally depends on a lineage of transmission, often associated with ancestors, and ratified by human contact.Share Harold Innis quotations about writing, tradition and communication. "The overwhelming pressure of mechanization evident in the " Login Sign Up. Authors; including this one, have dangerous implications to the vitality of an oral tradition and to the health of a civilization, particularly if they thwart the interest of a people in.

Resonance and the Global Village. Marshall McLuhan's notion of the "global village" was first introduced in his typescript "Report on Project in Understanding New Media" (, ) and subsequently as a chapter title in The Gutenberg Galaxy (): "The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village" (43).

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34 6 songs (Dhurga), c, South coast NSW, Mathews 35 3 songs (Dhurga), c, South coast NSW, Mathews This web page represents the first stage of a long-term project to create an open access web log of all surviving colonial era documentation of Australian Indigenous song and.

Harold innis and the oral tradition

The importance of oral tradition will be discussed next followed by a conclusion where it will be determined whether oral tradition has a future or not. According to Vansina (), oral tradition is cultural material and tradition transmitted orally from one generation to another.

Photos: Although Tewodros turned the gun on himself in order to avoid being captured alive, the British soldiers took his young son, Prince Alemayehu Tewodros (who died .

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