cover of book

From Printing to Streaming: Cultural Production under Capitalism
by Michael Chanan
Pluto Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-7453-4095-1


A radical and comprehensive analysis of the commodification of artistic creation and the struggle to realize its potential in the digital age.

For mainstream economics, cultural production raises no special questions: creative expression is to be harvested for wealth creation like any other form of labor. As Karl Marx saw it, however, capital is hostile to the arts because it cannot fully control the process of creativity. But while he saw the arts as marginal to capital accumulation, that was before the birth of the mass media.

Engaging with the major issues in Marxist theory around art and capitalism, From Printing to Streaming traces how the logic of cultural capitalism evolved from the print age to digital times, tracking the development of printing, photography, sound recording, newsprint, advertising, film, and broadcasting, exploring the peculiarities of each as commodities, and their recent transformation by digital technology, where everything melts into computer code. Chanan demonstrates how these developments have had profound implications for both cultural creation and consumption.

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