Radical Scholarship in the Academy: The View From Communications

  • Robert W. McChesney
Keywords: Education, History, Media


I began my graduate work in communications in the autumn of 1983. This was a turbulent and dramatic period of change for communication research; in particular, the recent emergence in the United States of critical studies in communication had torn asunder the guise of scientific neutrality that had masked the ideological premises of dominant mainstream communication research for decades. As one who had come to communication from history and economics with an explicit commitment to radical intellectual and political work, I regarded these developments as most heartening. Indeed, in the past decade the number of tenured and tenure-track communication faculty members with critical perspectives has mushroomed, and most major research programs have at least one or two "leftists" on board. As one senior faculty member informed me when I first arrived in Madison in 1988, a few years earlier someone with my views would not have even received a job interview, let alone a job offer. Moreover, a significant proportion of the brightest students are now pursuing critical approaches. The times, it seems, they are a-changing and a-changing for the better.