Space, Time, Number: Harold A. Innis as Evolutionary Theorist
What causes economic change? Traditionally, economists have answered that the explanation lies in exogenous shocks to technology, factor stocks, or preferences. In the last half-decade of his career, the Canadian economic historian Harold Innis (1894-1952) proposed an alternative approach - a theory of endogenous change in communications technology. He argued that the principal developments in western social history could be explained by a process of alternation between media biased towards conservation of information over time and those biased towards transmission over distance. This paper demonstrates the close parallels between the concepts used by Innis and contemporary theories of social evolution. It also indicates the importance for future research of his vision of communications media as the most fundamental of enabling technologies.
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Volume (Year): 28 (1995)
Issue (Month): 4a (November)
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