Marxist political economy of communication analyses the role of communication in society and capitalism. This paper shows what it means to take a historical and materialist approach for analyzing communication and society. In the German-speaking world, Marxist communication research has largely remained a “forgotten theory”.
First, the paper analyses the role of communication in society, which requires thinking of how communication relates to work and production. Second, the paper analyses the emergence of communication in capitalist society. It shows that there is a close interaction of the dominant type of capitalism and the emergence and development of new means of communication. Third, the paper points out five roles of the media in capitalism (the production and sale of media products, advertising and commodity circulation, the legitimation of domination, regeneration and reproduction of labour-power, market for media technologies) and engages with how ideology, social psychology, audiences’ habitus and everyday practices/life interact in the reception of media contents, especially news programmes.