Urban’s Critique of Marshall McLuhan and the Gutenberg Galaxy


Urban’s article gives an overview of Marshall McLuhan’s work and theories, while also critiquing McLuhan as a philosopher. Urban’s main critique of McLuhan is that while Urban agrees with McLuhan and understands the importance of his theories, he does not see McLuhan as revolutionary, as McLuhan saw himself. Instead, he sees McLuhan as having similar ideas to, and adding to the work of, “Max Weber, Karl Marx, or John Dewey”. Urban then goes on to give a brief history of McLuhan’s life, and an introduction to his work, specifically the Gutenberg Galaxy.

In his book the Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan criticizes printed media and applauds the new mediums of television and radio and their educational uses. Marshall McLuhan acknowledged that printed media was the start point of industrialization and mass production, where people were confined in mechanic and uniformed way of thinking. It therefore fostered nationalism. For example, the Bible was a product of mass production. It unified people in the western world and led people to form national identities. On the other hand, printed media brought up the idea of individualism. As Urban points out, “print is the technology of individualism.”(Urban, 2004)

McLuhan sees the mediums of television and radio as much more beneficial than the printed word, because of the ability to understand it regardless of one being literate on non literate, and regardless of one’s culture.

Urban’s article mainly summarizes McLuhan’s book The Gutenberg Galaxy and the ideas contained within it, while comparing McLuhan as a philosopher to other media philosophies during the mid to late twentieth century.


About the Author

Written by Chloe Westman and Bi-Hsuan Chien


One Response to “Urban’s Critique of Marshall McLuhan and the Gutenberg Galaxy”


  1. Hands-On, Minds On! « New Media Literacies at Temple University - September 8, 2011

    […] Write a summary of the Urban article, compose a headline and select a photo to accompany it. […]

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