Invasion of one country by another is an example of coercive power. Symbolic power works through images (linguistic, pictoral, aural) to create and mobilise support for a cause and it is integral to the operation of the other power forms. Other classifications include position, resource and charismatic (or personality) power, each overlapping with Thompson's categories and each one some how connected with communication processes. A case can be made for recognising technological power, what Karl Marx refereed to as the means of production, as a category in its own right. John of Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in around 1450 was not substantially the result of either economic or political imperatives, but it soon proved to be a winner economically. Politically and culturally it brought about profound changes. By symbolising knowledge as something potentially accessible to all and rendering the act of reading an exercise in individualism and a possible source of subversion, printing transformed the known world by becoming a power in the land. In easily reproducible and permanent form, it spread knowledge and ideas beyond the traditional boundary fence of the privileged to the 'common people'. In doing so, it offered them glimpses of their own potential power.
Yet tYet the media have never been either separate from or independent of the forces which create them and which in turn they shape and influence. They work, as Thompson points out, within institutional frameworks. As such they operate as forms of cultural apparatus, part of the machinery of state or of powerful interest groups within the state. Historically the media have more often served as the voice of powerful than of the people. They have been classified by the French philosopher Louis Althusser as one of the prime ISAs, Ideological State Apparatuses, along with religion, family structures, and education: that is, they are crucially important channels for the transmission of 'rules of conduct' in society; the guardians of a culture's dominant norms and values. They play a part in all the power forms, including in a contributory sense - coercive power.
Coercion, the exercise of power by force, manifests itself through what Althusser terms RSAs, Repressive State Apparatuses - army, police, prisons. It is ever physically absent but it is in the culturally concealed. Its visible and tangible presence depends on whether the other power forms are considered to be under threat. In war time of course, coercive power moves from the back region to the front region of our lives; and at no other time is symbolic power exercised by the media, so graphically, so blatantly or so persuasively.
The media in time of war - with exceptions- become the trumpeters of conflict with the enemy. They do not fire the guns but their clamour for the guns to be fired is an essential part of the process of gathering the people's support for the war effort. ISAs and RSAs conflate, become one and the media speak with a single voice; their task to create consensus and unity at home, to identify and target the enemy; their role that of mobilisers of opinion and,