Emancipation, the media and modernity: some reflections on Garnham's Kantian turn

Winston, Brian (2005) Emancipation, the media and modernity: some reflections on Garnham's Kantian turn. Media, Culture & Society, 27 (4). pp. 495-509. ISSN 0163-4437

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In Emancipation, the Media and Modernity, Nicholas Garnham argues for the continued viability of the Enlightenment project, suggesting that, despite attacks from the right and various postmodernists, "coercive inequality and avoidable ignorance" still require an enlightened response. Discarding history is an especially fraught outcome of the turn away from Enlightenment values. Where history might inform, say, public debate and policy-making on and for the media, it is instead largely ignored. In consequence, the Enlightenment concept of free expression is now by no means seen as a crucial public good, the key human right. The history of the struggle for press freedom is forgotten. The basic principle of free speech is abridged and adjusted for non-print media as with current British communications regulatory structures. However, it can be argued that all of the received legitimations for media-specific content controls above the general law - from supposed spectrum scarcity through to the public right to know - are poorly grounded. Their undebated general acceptance dangerously undermines the concept of free expression. Yet, as Garnham reminds us, for Kant and his successors emancipation depended on enlightenment which in turn depended on publicity - the free exchange of ideas about the world and about social relations with fellow citizens in order to arrive at truth and a freely chosen and shared moral community.

Keywords:freedom of expression, Freedom of the press, Kant's theory, enlightenment, press
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:13784
Deposited On:11 Apr 2014 09:59

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