Fall 2019 - CMNS 444 D100

Political Economy of International Communication (4)

Class Number: 3547

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units, including CMNS 240 or 247, and CMNS 346 or 348.



An examination of the domestic and international implications of the development of mass media and telecommunications and the differential impact of the free flow of technology and information.



This course will explore the emerging issues in Political Economy of International Communication through the lens of the debated ‘Global Power Shift’ from West to East. We will begin by critically assessing how the communications and entertainment industries are deeply integrated with the historical foundations of the ‘world systems’ and the neoliberal transformations of global economic and political forces. We will focus on the deeper relationship between communications, cultures, and changing structures of soft and hard power, especially with the rise of the BRICS economies and the most recent expansion of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative/New Silk Road. The second part of the course will pay particular attention to how various media and entertainment enterprises, such as global television and film industries, as well as digital communications platforms, tactics, and infrastructures, such as algorithmic media, disinformation, and next-generation internet technologies, along with their business models, are profoundly reshaped, contested and renegotiated through geopolitical reordering, regional forces and local resistances. Students will chart the terrain of transformations and produce case studies combining insights from the both parts of the course.

This is a senior-level seminar, so it is expected that all students will be prepared to participate in the discussions/activities that will take place each week.


Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following:

• Key concepts and theories in international political economy of communication.
• Contemporary issues and debates in international political economy of communication.
• Application of theories and concepts to contemporary issues.


  • (Subject to change with notice.)
  • Class Participation 20%
  • Mid-Term Exam (In-Class) 20%
  • 5 page "Intellectual history of a concept" 20%
  • Research Paper (3000-4000 words) 40%


The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades.  In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline [Note: as of May 1, 2009 the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]


A minimum 2.25 CMNS CGPA and 2.00 CGPA, and approval as a communication student is required for entry into most communication upper division courses.



Srnicek, Nick (2016) Platform Capitalism. Polity Press. (ISBN-13: 9781509504879).
ISBN: ISBN-13: 9781509504

Dyer-Witheford, Nick and Svitlana Matviyenko (2019) Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism. University of Minnesota Press. (ISBN 978-1-5179-0411-1) (accessible through SFU Library website)
ISBN: 978-1-5179-0411-1

Additional reading materials will be available through the Canvas site.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html