Looking back on the uprisings in the Arab world and in other corners of the world, it is legitimate to rethink and analyze the role of media in these revolution’s processes and their outcomes. It is actually compulsory to have this debate, and no better place than the academia to step out of this effervescence.
The international conference Media & Participation, celebrated on the 29th of March 2012, at the Media and Communication Research Department in Lund University (Sweden) did exactly that, providing a platform for international scholars to debate on the role of media in participation, involvement and citizenship.
John Corner opened the keynote panel pointing out the roles played by media as “agents of collective experience as well as agencies of individuation”, underlining the invitational function of media projects as stages of performances of participation; later Natalie Fenton presented a critical point of view on the democratic results which emerge from these´spectacular moments´, referring to what happened in the Arab Spring. She called not to fetishize participation, noting that what happens next is central.
Kristina Riegert presented on blogs as alternative counter-publics with special focus to Lebanese and Egyptian bloggers before and during the revolution. On the other hand, Peter Lunt took an approach from the concept of ´fairness´ and its role in media regulation; while Peter Dahlgren focused on the invitational nature of participation, referring to its power distribution and co-deciding character. In the same direction, Nico Carpentier performed a detailed and interesting analysis of the concept participation; he stated that ´power´ is the key defining element. Kim Schrøder presented on the five stages of citizenship, and how mediated citizenship transforms into political participation.
Other scholars approached the issue from a different perspective, focusing on a particular medium or format. Such as Tobias Olson, who developed an appealing parallel between participation and branding in digital media, or Stina Bengtsson, who looked at “professional avatars” working in Second Life. In terms of TV and its programming, two presentations lead the discussion, on the one hand Annette Hill, who a approached the issue from a case study of reality entertainment formats; and on the other hand Raymond Boyle, who took the approach from sports-TV, closing the day with the statement “where is passion is profit”.
- Conference website: http://mediaparticipation2012.se/
- Conference videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/mkvlunduniversity
- Conference program: http://mediaparticipation2012.se/programme/
- Speakers’ bios and presentation abstracts: http://mediaparticipation2012.se/keynotes/
– Amaranta Alfaro Muirhead –