Staples Thesis In Canada

Staples Thesis In Canada-37
It was not self-aggrandizment or lust for status, as Havelock contends, that drove Innis in his early and mid-career.Innis did choose in the 1920s, after all, to inaugurate, in isolation, a new and countervailing approach to economics; he fervently berated the economics mainstream for being (as he saw it) an instrument for economic exploitation (among other ); he resigned, and later again threatened to resign, from his position at the University of Toronto—in the latter instance to support another outsider, Frank Underhill (with whom he disagreed fervently); he resigned from an office with the Royal Society of Canada on a matter of principle (Creighton, 1980); he continually made disparaging remarks, from at least the mid-1930s, regarding not just the competence but also the integrity of governmental and scholarly elites—including university presidents and other administrators.Throughout his life Innis was always dialectical with regard to the mainstream.

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Easterbrook proposed that Innis’ shift from staples to communication/media entailed “no suggestion of a break or loss of continuity or of interests” (1953a, pp. At another commemoration, Easterbrook made a similar pronouncement: “Although it is possible to mark out some [phases] in Innis’s work, there is at no point any suggestion of a break or a radical shift in his mode of approach to national or general economic history” (1953b, p. To support these claims, Easterbrook noted (correctly) that Innis had been intent to test the limits or biases of knowledge.

When developing his staples thesis, for example, Easterbrook explained, Innis was testing the limitations of the economics mainstream—and he quoted Innis to that effect (Easterbrook, 1953b).

As developed below, Innis resolved this dialectical tension only on his deathbed.

Donald Creighton (1980), it is true, captured some of the mental anguish Innis must have experienced in transitioning from staples to media. Creighton’s position would be more tenable, I would argue, were it not for the fact that Innis published what retrospectively may be regarded as his pivotal piece (Innis, 1979c) —six years prior to what Creighton claimed was the time Innis made an abrupt shift to media and communication as an extension of pulp and paper, and four years before publication of his essay on the lumber trade (Innis, 1979e).

That said, the question still remains: Why would Innis feel the need (and indeed the very ontology) of his scholarship, to move from staples to media, and thereby risk misunderstanding and non-acceptance?

In 1952, Innis’ colleague, Tom Easterbrook, addressed the American Economics Association to honour the recently deceased Innis.

The dialectic or contradiction of relativism/universalism in Innis’ two major inquiries has hitherto remained unrecognized, and constitutes the focus of this article.

KEYWORDS Innis; Dialectic; Staples; Economic theory; Medium theory RÉSUMÉ Harold Innis a entamé sa recherche sur l’histoire économique canadienne (théorie des principales ressources) pour contrer les postulats supposément universels de la science économique traditionnelle; il croyait que le courant traditionnel « justifiait » l’exploitation des pays en voie de développement par les pays les plus riches.

And again, Innis himself can be quoted to support this claim (Innis, 1972a).

However, once again, I must remark, Easterbrook failed to note that Innis had much bigger fish to fry than just testing for bias.


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