Javnost - The Public, Vol. 21 - 2014, No. 2
This paper reviews the current state of the literature on the mediatisation of politics. Five common assumptions are being identified, which in my view form the core of a basic understanding of the concept. I discuss for each of these assumptions a number of further deliberations. My analysis is based on a theory of functionally differentiated societies. More precisely, I draw on the vision of modern societies that German sociologist Niklas Luhmann has introduced. According to his view the functional specialisation of social sub-systems is accompanied by an increased consolidation of performance relations between them, because self-referential fixation on the own function inevitably causes deficits in most other capacities. Against this background mediatisation is reconstructed as a response to a serious deficit of political systems: the notorious lack of public attention given to democratic politics within modern societies. This framework has several implications for the reasoning on mediatisation, which are outlined in the article.
The article explores different approaches to the theoretical grounding of public use of reason developed by Habermas, Kant and Rawls. It is focused on Habermas’s idea of communicative rationality and the public sphere, and then this approach is related to Kantian practical reason and Rawls’s idea of public reason. The article highlights liberal and republican elements in Habermas’s concept of public sphere, and emphasises that liberal concepts of democracy require public reason as a device of justification of constitutional norms, while the republican idea of popular sovereignty opens up the popular public sphere. The second part of the article describes the tension between the counterfactual nature of Habermas’s discourse ethics and its practical realisation in deliberative politics in institutions of the state.
Apart from a few exceptions, there are no studies combining critical theoretical and empirical research in the context of social media. The overall aim of my article is to study the constraints and emancipatory potentials of web 2.0 and to assess to what extent social media can contribute to strengthen the idea of the communication and network commons and a commons-based information society. I follow an emancipatory research interest being based on a critical theory and political economy approach in three sections: I provide some foundational concepts of a critical theory of media, technology and society in section one. The task of section two is to study the users’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the potentials and risks of social media. This section can be considered as a case study of the critical theory and dialectics of media, technology, and society. In section three, I raise the question if technological and/or social changes are required in order to bring about real social media. Section three furthermore discusses political implications and draws some conclusions.
In this article, we confront some commonly held assumptions and objections with regard to the feasibility of deliberation in a transnational and pluri-lingual setting. To illustrate our argument, we rely on an analysis of group discussions from EuroPolis, a transnational deliberative experiment that took place one week ahead of the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. The European deliberative poll is an ideal case for testing the viability of deliberative democracy across political cultures because it introduces variation in terms of constituency and group plurality under the controlled conditions of quasi-experimental scientific setting. For measuring group dynamics and interactions we apply a modified version of the Discourse Quality Index (DQI) that is combined with a qualitative content analysis of selected sequences of discussions. Findings show that participants of transnational deliberative polling 1) generally recognise the EU polity as a reference point for exercising communicative power and impact on decision-making, and 2) are in fact able to interact and debate across languages and cultures, developing a self-awareness of citizens of a shared polity and thereby turning a heterogeneous group of randomly selected citizens into a constituency of democracy.
Mediatisation and Regional Campaigning in a Party-centred System: How and Why Parliamentary Candidates Seek Visibility
Election campaigns are central to political life as well as to the study of political communication and provides much empirical knowledge about the processes of mediatisation and mediation of politics. Most often studies focus on the campaigns featuring the national top politicians. However, most elections campaigns in Western democracies are run by party branches and candidates who rarely make the top headlines in the nationwide media, yet they are also dependent on media attention and agenda-setting to be visible and reach their voters. Relying on several data sets from studies of the Norwegian 2009 parliamentary election campaign, this study asks, first, how regional, mainly “non-celebrity politicians,” obtain visibility. We seek to unravel how the media logic works on the regional and local level. Second, we ask why it is important for candidates in a party-centred proportional (PR) system to be visible. Our findings suggest that we should recognise the mediatised and multileveled character of election campaigns in order to understand how media logics work below the nationwide setting.
Albeit largely neglected in communication sciences research, industrial convergence has put the relation between legacy content media like TV broadcasters and distributors (cable, satellite) firmly on the policy agenda. There seems to be an increasing awareness of the gatekeeping characteristics of mainstream as well as online video distribution, and the power distributors can exert vis-à-vis television broadcasters in terms of the bundling of services and pricing. The relation between TV broadcasters and distributors is increasingly characterised by conflicts. Because of public disputes between broadcasters and distributors, and threats of blackout, several governments across Europe are indeed discussing the necessity of regulatory intervention in order to decrease tension and promote cooperation in their media sectors. The article therefore questions how broadcasters have problematised their relation with distributors and put it on the policy agenda, whether it is up to governments to intervene in the relationship between broadcasters and distributors, and whether the proposed policy actions are likely to remedy the tensions in the marketplace.