Post-Communist Media: From Democratic Ideals to Authoritarian Backlash?
In mainstream Western political science and media literature, media are usually seen as contributing to liberalization and democratization of transition societies. The degree of media freedom and pluralism is also used to measure political performance of democratic regimes. However, recently the optimism of the transition paradigm has been challenged by the political stability and economic success of several authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes, especially China and Russia. The emerging “Beijing Consensus” is presenting a powerful alternative to global US hegemony as well as liberalism. At the same time, both the US and the EU face severe budget crises and mounting debts in the process some define as “the decline of the West”. The European Union is going through its most critical time since its creation, struggling with economic problems and internal resistance to further integration.
Economic and financial problems, rising unemployment, “democracy fatigue,” and authoritarian and nationalist backlashes in Central and Eastern Europe (recently in Poland or presently in Hungary) also question the optimism and hope of further democratic transformation in post-communist lands. What are the major trends of democratization vs. authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe? How do authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes control media in different post-communist regions? How do old and new media genres contribute to sustaining and / or opposing authoritarian regimes? And how could media studies be reinvented to reflect on changing geopolitical realities and media landscapes?
This workshop attempts to paint the big picture regarding Central and Eastern European media today: their democratic vs. authoritarian performance, political status, pluralism and policies. Instead of looking only westward, we attempt to introduce both Western and Eastern comparative perspectives. Methodological reflections on the challenges facing the social sciences in the age of the new media are also offered.
The goal of the event is to locate summary findings of individual projects among the big picture of globalization, the emergence of China and Russia, and the global strengthening of authoritarian tendencies. We would also like to highlight media research at the CMCS, particularly the academic findings of COST A30 program “East of West: Setting a New Central and Eastern European Media Research Paradigm.”
For detailed program please go to http://www.ceupress.com/books/html/Media%20workshop.htm