In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Communications

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Academic Centers
  • Conferences
  • International Organizations
  • Journals and Blogs
  • Nongovernmental Organizations
  • Regulators
  • Data Sources
  • History
  • Theory
  • Big Data, Broadband, Mobility, and Networking
  • The Cloud
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights
  • Development and the Digital Divide
  • Innovation and Disruption
  • Intellectual Property and the Commons
  • The Internet and the Web
  • Policy and Regulation
  • Governance and Institutions

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

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Communication International Communications
Jonathan D. Aronson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0066


International communications is an extremely broad, interdisciplinary topic. To master communications, experts must have at least some knowledge of engineering, computer science, politics, economics, sociology, anthropology, business, law, and public policy plus in-depth expertise on two or three of these topics. To master international communications, experts need the same wide-ranging knowledge for several countries or regions. Tackling this topic requires choices on what to include and what to exclude. Most of the citations annotated in this article come from a political economy perspective, with a strong historical, theoretical, policy, and governance flavor. These articles focus on information and communication technologies in terms of content that flows across borders, infrastructure and networks that span continents, and software that ties everything together plus their consequences, regulation, and governance. Also included are issue-based sections, each of which contains seven or eight important items to introduce readers to key issues. These are (1) Big Data, broadband, mobility, and networking (but not net neutrality); (2) the Cloud; (3) cybersecurity and privacy, but not cyberwar; (4) freedom, democracy, and human rights; (5) development and the digital divide; (6) innovation and disruption, (7) intellectual property and the Commons; (8) the Internet and the web; (9) global media; (10) policy and regulation; and (11) governance and institutions. Academic centers, conferences, international organizations, journals and blogs, nongovernmental organizations, regulators, and data sources that deal with important aspects of international communications are also noted. Web links are provided when available to allow readers to find and often download the books and articles cited here. This article does not attempt to cover intercultural, interpersonal, or mass communications and intentionally has little information about dealing with media and comparative media systems. International public relations and corporate communications are also excluded. Further, this article does not focus on commercial or technical issues related to international communications, such as standard setting, spectrum allocation, and satellite communications. Finally, national and comparative communications studies are not included here, with rare exceptions.

General Overviews

General overviews relevant to international communications include the following sources. The classic works Schiller 1992 and Innis 2007 explore the role of communications media in the formation of empire. McPhail 2010 provides an overview of international communications. The Castells 2000–2004 trilogy covers the transformation of the information age that accompanied the rise of networks and the changing relationship between communication and power. Global media is not stressed in this compendium, but a basic overview of key issues can be found in the following references. Chapman 2005 covers comparative media history. Starr 2004 masterfully shows the evolution of American media and journalism up to 1945. Taylor 1997 traces the increasing involvement of the media in international affairs.

  • Castells, Manuel. 2000–2004. The information age: Economy, society, culture. 2d ed. 3 vols. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    Few seminal works on communication are available and fewer still on international communication. Of these, Castells’s three-volume masterwork soars above the rest. Even a decade after the second editions, his insights about the economic, social, and cultural transformations that unfolded and continue to unfold in the new age of information provide insights on every page. Read The Information Age. Revel in it. Ponder it.

  • Chapman, Jane. 2005. Comparative media history: An introduction; 1789 to the present. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

    In the tradition of Briggs and Burke’s Social History of the Media (3d ed., Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010), Chapman compares media developments across the centuries and continents to show how today’s international media institutions evolved from past historical traditions. This is a clearly written, excellent textbook for media students.

  • Innis, Harold A. 2007. Empire and communication. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Innis surveys how communications media influenced the rise and fall of empires from ancient times to the mid-20th century, arguing that each media was biased in space or time. Media that emphasize time were durable (parchment, clay, and stone) and often led to decentralization. Less durable media that emphasize space (papyrus and paper) usually favor large, centralized administrations. To endure, empires needed to strike a balance.

  • McPhail, Thomas. 2010. Global communication: Theories, stakeholders, and trends. 3d ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

    McPhail provides an overview that serves as a handy textbook focusing on issues, stakeholders, and institutions in international communication. Each addition is updated with new articles. The third edition also contains chapters by Nancy Snow (“Public Diplomacy”), Alex Robertson (“Euromedia”), Lawrence Pintak (“Arab Media and the Al-Jazeera Effect”), and Junhao Hong (“Media Globalization in Asia”).

  • Schiller, Herbert I. 1992. Mass communications and American empire. 2d ed. Boulder, CO: Westview.

    Originally published in 1969 (New York: A. M. Kelley), Schiller critically examines the structure and policy of US mass communications in relation to their most important economic and political functions. He stresses the private takeover of public space and public institutions at home and US corporate domination of cultural life abroad, especially in the developing nations.

  • Starr, Paul. 2004. The creation of the media: Political origins of modern communication. New York: Basic Books.

    Starr provides a sweeping history of the evolution of American media from America’s founding to World War II. The narrative begins with the postal services and then moves to newspapers, telegraph, telephone, radio, movies, and television. Starr explores how political, economic, and cultural forces shaped modern communications and society. He saves space to examine press censorship and freedom, intellectual property rights, and issues related to the concentration of media ownership.

  • Taylor, Philip M. 1997. Global communications, international affairs and the media since 1945. London: Routledge.

    Taylor shows the increased involvement of the media in issues of peace and especially war since the 19th century. He investigates how communications work within the international arena and how communications interact with foreign policy in practice. Building on evidence from the Gulf War and Vietnam, Taylor discusses current problems of reporting within a comprehensive historical context.

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