This is an entirely new edition of the author’s 1984 study (originally published by South End Press) of radical media and movements. The first and second sections are original to this new edition. The first section explores social and cultural theory in order to argue that radical media should be a central part of our understanding of media in history. The second section weaves an historical and international tapestry of radical media to illustrate their centrality and diversity, from dance and graffiti to video and the internet and from satirical prints and street theatre to culture-jamming, subversive song, performance art and underground radio. The section also includes consideration of ultra-rightist media as a key contrast case. The book’s third section provides detailed case studies of the anti-fascist media explosion of 1974-75 in Portugal, Italy’s long-running radical media, radio and access video in the USA, and illegal media in the dissolution of the former Soviet bloc dictatorships.
We have drawn on a considerable variety of perspectives, all of them framed by different questions and problems, to begin to make sense of the radical media phenomenon and potential. The journey we have undertaken has not led to a tightly wound, smooth conceptual conclusion. There are a number of rough edges and discontinuities, but perhaps that better corresponds to the messy nature of social being than a series of perfectly oiled axioms.
We will recapitulate them in a moment, but before we can do so, there is one dimension of current media theorizing that must first be addressed. It is the position, especially identified with an early phase of U.S. media research (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 1955; Klapper, 1960), that media are weak social agents. ...