Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Communications & Multimedia

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Rod Giblett

Abstract

In the globalised world of the electronic, information age, there is one resource that increasingly appears to play a pertinent role in the future of our communications systems. The electromagnetosphere is an ecological region that is largely unacknowledged outside of scientific circles: it is one of those naturally-occurring phenomena that we simply take for granted. But with developments in communications technology we have learnt to tap the energies of this natural phenomenon, and in tum have developed a complex system of management and regulation where a 'property-mimicking' regime of allocation and licensing is in place. There are movements however, to make the final conversion of 'spectrum space' into the private hands of media and telecommunications corporations. What effect will this have on our notions of citizenship and democracy? How will this alter our relationship to these corporations, to the electromagnetosphere itself, and our wider relationship within the natural world? Yet there are further complexities in our relationship with the electromagnetosphere as citizens and through government. How do we manage something which is largely invisible to the naked eye? What are the implications of applying the 'property-mimicking' regimes of land to an ecological sphere which is clearly not solid space? And to what extent is the management and regulation of the electromagnetosphere driven by the dominant trends of 'enclosure' and 'privatisation' that are characteristic of landed property? These are some of the questions that stimulate this research. By promoting an ecological and cultural dimension to 'spectrum management' -an ecoculturalist methodology - this study aims to wrestle the managerial reins of government, regulators, technologists and economists, away from their narrow and anthropocentric world-views, and reclaim the electromagnetosphere for our communities and ecologies. While our conceptualisation of the electromagnetosphere continues to be based on propertied relations, this research will argue that a 'commons property regime' would be the most appropriate for accommodating the wider democratic and ecological concerns of our communities. This is therefore an intervention and an argument for the 'electromagnetic commons'.

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