Javnost - The Public, Vol. 19 - 2012, No. 4
In academic and popular discourse, the power of media in current globalised and “postdemocratic” societies is often discussed with the notion of “mediatisation.” It suggests, for example, that media institutions are increasingly influential because they dictate the way issues are framed for public discussion. Consequently, other institutional actors (in politics, science, religion) have had to internalise a “media logic” in order to sustain their power and legitimate their actions. Recent studies of mediatisation largely ignore Jürgen Habermas’ early use of the term “mediatization” in order to analyse the relationship between system imperatives and lifeworlds. While at first this use may seem distant to recent concerns, a return to Habermas can enhance the theorising of mediatisation and media power in two ways. First, by underscoring the importance of a system-theoretic vocabulary it helps to unpack the notion of “media logic” and narrow down the specific power resource of the media (i.e. what is the “medium” of the media). Second, by articulating a fundamental criticism of system-theoretic vocabulary it opens a normative perspective for an evaluation of the media’s democratic function (i.e. the “quality” of mediatisation). This essay highlights, elaborates and illustrates each of these potential contributions by looking at journalism research in general and drawing on a recent empirical study on the mediatisation of political decisionmaking in Finland.
Discursive Structures in the Network Society: A Theoretical Case Study on the Role of Immaterial Structures in Media Organisations
The article takes the debates on structure and agency as a starting point to emphasise the importance of finding a balanced approach towards the discursive and the material in these debates. Through a critical reading of Giddens’ structuration theory and Castells’ network society theory, the tendencies in sociological (and communication and media studies) theory to render agency too present, to privilege the material over the discursive, and to fixate and permanently sediment all four concepts, is highlighted. The article then reverts to the notion of “discursive structure” as elaborated in Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory to further unravel the complexities of the relationships between these four categories, while at the same time guaranteeing that the cultural-discursive dimensions of structure gain more visibility. The workings of this more fluid and immaterial model of discursive structures is illustrated by focussing on the media organisation, as one of the points where the discursive and the material, and structure and agency meet. Through the lens of the media organisation we can see how agency and structure are both located at the level of the material and the discursive, and how the material and the discursive both have structure and agency.
In this paper we shall deal with the interdependence of gender and language on the one hand and gender and identity on the other. The relevant framework of analysis will encompass the theory of dominance, the theory of difference and performativeness theory. The current situation in Montenegro regarding the subject matter of our investigation somewhat reflects the chronology of the research in these categories and the historical order of their appearance. There is strong evidence to support the main postulates of the theory of dominance (Lakoff 1974) primarily expressed in terms of the markedness of the female member contrasted with the unmarkedness of the male. Also, the gender non-parallelism present in the public and private spheres finds fertile soil in the Montenegrin mentality, behaviour and overall cultural script of pronounced patriarchality. Perhaps the theory of difference would be nominally the best theory to describe the gender situation in Montenegro in both its aspects: difference as unintentional dominance (Tannen 1990) and “different” in the meaning of “worse” when applied to women. At the same time, performativeness theory (Butler 1990, 1997), which takes the stand that gender means acting and doing, not just being, would be very suitable for grasping the various manifestations of gender identity. All the while, irrespective of these theories, the media exert their inexorable influence in maintaining the traditional role of the woman (and men), albeit with some new vocabulary.
Reading Gays on the Small Screen: A Reception Study among Flemish Viewers of Queer Resistance in Contemporary Television Fiction
Drawing on the insights of queer theory, this study departs from the notion that popular culture can articulate resistance to the discourse of heteronormativity, which is being reiterated and consolidated in popular culture products. In particular, this study focuses on the potential of gay representation in contemporary television fiction to resist heteronormative institutions, practices, norms, and values. In preceding qualitative textual studies on queer resistance in a selection of popular series (namely The Wire, Family Guy, Six Feet Under, Brothers & Sisters, Torchwood and True Blood), it is argued that these series represent gay characters and themes that expose the oppressive practices of heteronormativity and represent viable alternatives to the heteronormative way of living. As articulations of resistance only become resistant in the act of reading, this study aims to explore how television audiences negotiate the meaning of gay representation and its potential to resist. Its aim is twofold: First, it aims to study how Flemish regular television viewers of contemporary television fiction read gay representation and, in particular, how they read articulations of queer resistance. Second, it aims to inquire whether or not the television viewers assume heteronormative or resistant discursive positions in their readings. To this end, a reception analysis confronts the results of the preceding textual analyses, which have illustrated how popular series can resist the discourse of heteronormativity, with the readings of the regular television viewers.
Contest Framing and Its Effects on Voter (De)Mobilisation: News Exposure and Its Impact on Voting Turnout in the 2008 Austrian Elections
This article investigates the impact of news exposure on voting turnout in the 2008 Austrian elections by specifically focusing on horse race, conflict and drama levels to capture the nature and effects of contest framing in the campaign coverage. This study rests on the analytical linkage of extensive content analyses of newspaper and TV news coverage and a representative post election survey comprising the Austrian electorate. This investigation first contrasts the magnitude of contest framing in tabloid and quality news and then applies logistic regression analyses, outlining its (de)mobilisation effects on voters to answer the guiding questions: To what extent is the election campaign portrayed as a contest and how does this affect the (de)mobilisation of the electorate? Thereby, we contrast the effects of sheer news exposure with the impact of exposure levels regarding contest framing by the media to learn what is more eff ective. The findings firstly show that tabloid news is more contest-oriented in their reporting than quality news. Secondly, dissonant to our expectations, we find that whereas general news exposure holds no mobilising power regarding the Austrian electorate, horse race framing by the media even shows a reversed mobilisation effect by turning voters off .
The Deliberative Quality of Referendum Coverage in Direct Democracy: Findings from a Longitudinal Analysis of Swiss Media
The article presents a systematic and standardised content analysis of 4,559 newspaper articles; it covers nine popular votes in Switzerland between 1983 and 2004 and measures the deliberativeness of the mediated public debate. In the last decade, a growing number of studies employ a deliberative framework in analysing mass media contents. However, these studies followed a sceptical perspective and found evidence that mediated deliberation inevitably falls short of the demanding criteria provided by normative theory. Nevertheless, the article demonstrates that there are examples of deliberative journalism in Swiss direct democratic campaigns. We argue that a political system of a mature direct democracy, such as the Swiss democracy is, together with a journalistic culture which is “educated” by initiative and referendum, might provide an appropriate environment for mediated-public deliberation.