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Soft power: the media industries in Britain since 1870

Bakker, Gerben (2014) Soft power: the media industries in Britain since 1870. Economic History Working Paper Series (200/2014). The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This paper discusses the emergence and growth of various media industries in Britain. It shows how a rise in real wages and leisure time, rapid urbanisation and the development of fast urban transport networks, and a rapid growth of the market’s size let to a sharp rise in the demand for media and entertainment products and services, which was met by ever-new technologies coming from constantly emerging new industries, such as recorded music, film, radio, television, cable, videogames, internet, and social media. The paper argued these industries contributed to a sharp productivity rise by industrialising traditional media and entertainment, and to a sharp welfare growth as consumers valued them so highly that they were willing to incur ever-higher opportunity costs to consume them. It also discusses how four factors quality races, marginal revenues equalling marginal profits, the superstar effect and agglomeration benefits shaped the evolution of individual industries, and it assesses the success or failure of British industrial policy towards media industries. The paper observes media’s impact on the aggregate economy through opportunity costs, expectations and aspirations, the functioning of the market, education, and, finally, through shaping the means of institutional change. In addition, the paper makes new decennial benchmark estimates for British consumer expenditure on books between 1870 and 1900, on recorded music between 1900 and 1930 and on cinema between 1910 and 1930, for which previously no estimates were available

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Author
Divisions: Accounting
Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I31 - General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness
L - Industrial Organization > L1 - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
L - Industrial Organization > L5 - Regulation and Industrial Policy
L - Industrial Organization > L8 - Industry Studies: Services > L82 - Entertainment; Media (Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Broadcasting, Publishing, etc.)
L - Industrial Organization > L8 - Industry Studies: Services > L86 - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
L - Industrial Organization > L9 - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities > L96 - Telecommunications
N - Economic History > N7 - Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services > N73 - Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N7 - Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services > N74 - Europe: 1913-
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O14 - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
Z - Other Special Topics > Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology > Z11 - Economics of the Arts and Literature
Sets: Departments > Accounting
Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2014 11:38
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2020 00:07

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