Javnost - The Public, Vol. 18 - 2011, No. 3
In this article, the focus is on how policy makers in Flanders (Belgium) can be inspired by the implementation of local radio development strategies in three neighbouring markets (the Netherlands, Great-Britain, the Frenchspeaking Community in Belgium). More specific, the article concentrates on the questions of which options policy makers have at their disposal in supporting local radio and what lessons they should learn from foreign experiences in boosting the sector’s development. The final aim is to come up with policy recommendations for reorganising local broadcasting and strengthening its economic and social value. To do this, document analysis was combined with seventeen local radio expert interviews in all markets involved. Next, a cross-country analysis was performed to identify structural conditions and propose policy options for a proactive media policy regarding small-scale radio.
The growth in interest and research in community radio worldwide over the last few decades is a welcome development. While, as noted by Jankowski (2003), a first generation of research has been largely empirical in nature, describing and analysing the organisation and operation of stations in different contexts, more recently a second generation of work has begun to emerge which aims at grounding empirical studies within broader theoretical frameworks, most notably those relating to democracy and the public sphere. The specific components of the public sphere remain somewhat underdeveloped in these studies however. This article aims to contribute to this literature through an examination of community radio in Ireland within a framework drawn from evolving work of Habermas and associated deliberative, social and media theorists. The article, drawing on a detailed study of four community stations in Ireland, identifies elements of community radio which contribute towards a “defeudalisation” of the public sphere as well as highlighting challenges in this regard. Although situated within a specific context, with Irish community radio operating within a comparable regulatory environment to both that in Australia and the United Kingdom, the article draws lessons of specific interest to researchers and activists in these domains, as well as offering a framework of use to community radio researchers interested in examining the sector’s contribution to the re-animation of the public sphere more globally.
Critical Multiculturalism and Deliberative Democracy: Opening Spaces for More Inclusive Communication
The discredit of multiculturalism in contemporary discussions about cultural diversity and democracy is problematic since allegations of multiculturalism’s failure and undemocratic consequences are used to justify a (re)turn to assimilation throughout Western societies. Rejecting assimilationism as either desirable or inevitable, this article challenges the alleged incompatibility between multiculturalism and democracy. It makes the case for a (re)conceptualisation of both multiculturalism and democracy in ways that can provide the foundations for inclusive communication. To this end, the article endorses, first, a specific kind of multiculturalism, namely, critical multiculturalism. Critical multiculturalism defines culture in structural and relational terms, underscoring the superficiality with which multiculturalism has been deployed in Western societies. Secondly, the article examines the constraints that liberal and republican models of democracy impose on a fair politics of cultural diversity. It argues that, largely due to its communication emphasis, Habermas’s deliberative democracy is particularly receptive to the demands of critical multiculturalism.
Bollywood and Turkish Films in Antwerp (Belgium): Two Case Studies on Diasporic Distribution and Exhibition
This article, a contribution to the thriving scholarship on the engagements between homeland media and diasporic audiences, breaks new ground through a comparative, political economy inspired analysis of two case studies with transnational implications. First we describe the theatrical distribution and exhibition of homeland films towards/by their diasporas, focusing on Indian and Turkish film structures in one location, the Belgian city of Antwerp. Interviews with 45 key players, participant observation and complementary archival research allow us to reconstruct how privately organised film screenings were substituted by commercial initiatives. Further analysis exploring the relations between local exhibitors and transnational distributors evaluates these structures against the background of global media industries' developments in terms of power and transformations, such as increasing competition.
The article investigates whether or not party activists are potential opinion leaders, presenting the results of field research on four local branches of the Italian PD (Democratic Party). First, the article examines the most relevant “opinion leaders” theories, proposing an original method for recognising potential opinion leaders: the identification of three main features of the ideal-type of opinion leader (the identification with the group, the technical expertise, the social capital) within the biographies of the social actors. Second, the article presents a case-study assessing whether party activists of the local PD branches possess these qualities or not, by analysing the data coming from qualitative fieldwork: ethnographic sessions within the four local branches, and forty biographical interviews with the party activists. At the end of the article some remarks will be given about the methodology used, about the idea of a party opinion leadership and about the role of party activists in changing the voters’ mind.