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The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications by Janet Wasko, Graham Murdock, Helena Sousa

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9

Economy, Ideology, and Advertising

Roque Faraone

Jean-Paul Sartre said that in each historical moment, there are only two valid conceptions: one that defends the current productive system, and the other that suggests an alternative. This chapter follows the method suggested by this premise.

Economy

The study of “political economy,” sometimes “economy,” or “economic sciences,” is generally understood to be that branch of inquiry that covers the aspects of social life related to the production and distribution of goods and services, but what exactly we mean by “production” and other key terms, and hence how we approach their study, is open to dispute.

In contrast to the natural sciences, in which taxonomies have a certain character of permanency,1 in the science of economics, just as in all of the social sciences, the language employed is the site of continual struggle and contention. Take a very basic concept such as “capital.” For an economist with tendencies to accept the current productive system as a natural fact (not a social or historical one), or even one who accepts its historicity but views it as inevitable, “capital” could be “an accumulation of wealth” or “an important means of payment available for investment,” or other variants inspired by the same perspective. In contrast, for an economist critical of current social reality, “capital” will probably be described as “accumulated work” or another expression that reveals a divergent approach. Let’s take another example: a ...

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