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The Informal Media Economy



The Informal Media Economy

Ramon Lobato, Julian Thomas

ISBN: 978-0-745-69041-4 April 2015 Polity 224 Pages

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How are “grey market” imports changing media industries? What is the role of piracy in developing new markets for movies and TV shows? How do jailbroken iPhones drive innovation?
The Informal Media Economy provides a vivid, original, and genuinely transnational account of contemporary media, by showing how the interactions between formal and informal media systems are a feature of all nations – rich and poor, large and small.
Shifting the focus away from the formal businesses and public enterprises that have long occupied media researchers, this book charts a parallel world of cultural intermediaries driving global media production and circulation. It shows how unlicensed, untaxed, or unregulated networks, which operate across the boundaries of established media markets, have been a driving force of media industry transformation. The book opens up new insights on a range of topical issues in media studies, from the creative disruptions of digitisation to amateur production, piracy and cybercrime.


1. Formal and informal media

2. Entrepreneurs

3. Work

4. Geographies

5. Regulation

6. Brands

7. Metrics




"The Informal Media Economy may be the most significant media studies volume published this year. Reaching beyond the tired platitudes and self-interested rhetoric of media piracy debates, Lobato and Thomas examine the elaborate interdependence between formal and informal media economies. The book ranges across seemingly discrete corners of the media economy, examining such issues as innovation, circulation and value. Along the way, the authors deliver lucid, thoughtful and provocative insights regarding topics that are absolutely central to media industry studies today."
Michael Curtin, University of California, Santa Barbara

"By examining relations between formal and informal economies, Lobato and Thomas offer a genuinely fresh and important way of understanding media production and media history. Their book is readable, knowledgeable and provocative, and it makes you wonder throughout: why on earth has no one done this before?"
David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds

"This book is a sophisticated and accessible introduction to the growing body of work on informality and media economies. It is full of smart syntheses of complex scholarship and original insights into the study of digital media."
Joe Karaganis, Columbia University

“Overall, this is an insightful, deeply researched, and cleverly crafted book, intended for audiences in academia and beyond that are interested in understanding the complex dynamics of how media is financed, distributed, and exhibited. It fills a gap in current academic research efforts, focusing on aspects of global media entertainment—the informal media economy—oftentimes neglected or overlooked.” 
Paolo Sigismondi, International Journal of Communication