The problems of social transformation and inclusiveness are not just national and international social problems they are media communications problems. The widening gap between rich and poor has an obvious communications dimension. The uneven and often skewed benefits of globalization are evident in the geographies of the information rich and the information poor, of those who are media endowed and not so endowed. Our rapidly changing communications environment is radically changing its settings and is having significant consequences for social inclusion and positive transformation, and social exclusion and dislocation. Exploring the social and political consequences of these changes requires recognizing a fundamental paradox. Our basic forms of paying for media communications are stable but the ends and instruments they are attached to are unstable. Yes advertiser-supported media still sustain audience markets; consumers still pay for media underwriting content markets; hybrids of audience and content markets still deliver diverse sorts of media; and public funding, whether governmental or philanthropic, remains an important means to deliver what commercial dynamics cannot or will not deliver. But in an era of connectivity these basic forms are mutating sometimes beyond recognition. They are now attached to quite different media, priorities and ends. Newer media platforms and services are recalibrating our very understanding of ‘what is a medium?’ producing both new regimes of knowledge about and uses for the media which are increasingly challenging our earlier ones. This makes assessments of the social and political significance of these changes all the more urgent. I will conclude with some remarks about what I see as the difficulties these communications changes pose generally and specifically in local national contexts for securing social transformation and inclusiveness. 


Tom O’Regan is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and Acting Head of School, School of Communication and Arts at the University of Qld. The research for this paper grows out of his research on Media Transformations and his collaboration with Dr Anna Potter (University of the Sunshine Coast and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Communication and Arts) on media companies and Globalisation. 

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