Retiology as Ideological Determinism in the Media: A Political Economy Perspective

Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 27)


David Fernández-Quijada’s contribution addresses the influence of the technical network as ideology in today’s world. He argues that the modern doctrine of retiology was strengthened and intensified with the advent of the digital era and that, despite the dematerialization of networks, the physical is still very much present in the digital universe.

In the ethos associated with the Internet he perceives a materialization of Saint-Simonian utopianism, highlighting peer to peer networks in this context as free sharing communities based on the premise that all members contribute to the operation and maintenance of shared information flows. Fernández-Quijada argues that this model was not, however, created by the new media, nor does it produce egalitarian outcomes, because digital networks themselves produce new hierarchies.

An example of the way in which the determinism of retiological rhetoric has been reinforced is to be found in the liberalization of the broadcasting industry, with the aim of reusing its frequencies for profit-making mobile telecommunications services. Increasingly, with the changeover to digital television, commercial interests have been favoured over public service interests, and this illustrates the way in which digitalization has accentuated these problems and dynamics.

Fernández-Quijada concurs with the territorial nature of networks, following Musso’s suggestion that territory, in addition to its physical aspect, also has a cultural and political existence. He underlines the significance of physical space in the geographical grouping practices (clusters) of industrial firms and of industrial actors associated with production and distribution, and its impact on the geography and characteristics of regions in terms of customers and suppliers, infrastructure and natural and human resources, and low transaction costs as a result of the short distances involved. Rather than arguing that modern retiology can be traced to the earliest stages of the media, Fernández-Quijada demonstrates that retiological determinism is a mirror of capitalist dynamics, just as the threat hanging over public broadcasting companies is a derivative of the neoliberal ethos.


Public Service Social Network Analysis Cultural Industry Digital Network Telecommunication Operator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author currently works for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is the largest professional association of national broadcasters in the world. While focused on public service media, the EBU also carries out commercial activities. Among others, these activities include the Eurovision Network, a dedicated satellite and fiber system covering nearly all the countries and the largest in the world directly connected to broadcasters. This allows the organization to operate Eurovision and Euroradio services, rolling exchanges of media content coverage of news, sports and events all over the world.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Media Intelligence ServiceEuropean Broadcasting UnionGenevaSwitzerland

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