In This Review

Media and Revolution: Comparative Perspectives
Media and Revolution: Comparative Perspectives
Edited by Jeremy D. Popkin
University Press Of Kentucky, 1995, 246 pp

The essays in this book wrestle with the role of the media in promoting revolution, from the seventeenth-century Puritan revolution in England through the American, French, and Bolshevik revolutions and the anticommunist upheavals in China and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. In recent years scholars have moved from seeing revolutions as products of class struggle, in which discourse and communications were deemed epiphenomenal to broad social changes, to McLuhanesque interpretations in which changes in communications media bring about social revolution. Like many collections of conference papers, the essays here are suitably eclectic; fortunately, most avoid extremes of either economic or technological determinism. Some authors, like the editor, emphasize the importance of changes in technology, while others, including those writing on Czechoslovakia and China in the past decade, surprisingly tend to downplay technology's importance. The media at issue here are almost entirely print. Perhaps reflecting the fact that most of its contributors are historians, this otherwise thoughtful collection lacks any analysis of how emerging communications technologies may shape social interactions in the future.