English title: Systemic Media Changes and Social and Political Polarization in Europe

Author(s): Auksė Balčytienė - Kristina Juraitė -

Language: English

Type: Book chapter

Year: 2015

Abstract

This paper contributes to the debate on evolving uncertainty and crisis in the European mediascape. While in many countries economic factors are often blamed for dramatic modifications of media operations, this chapter follows a different approach. It suggests the adjustment of European media to shifting contextual (economic, technological) conditions is also affected by mounting societal changes and transformations, amongst which the individualization of consumption is the dominating one. The paper argues that audience interests and growing personalized access opportunities to informatikon reinforce media fragmentation, which, furthermore, leads to audience segmentation and increasing political and social polarization within and across various nations in Europe. Individualized information consumption appears to be critical for European democracy since it affects the cohesion of society. By diverting public attention away from shared and communal dialogues to private interests and soft issues in the media it challenges the notion of good community. By reducing civic involvements it intensifies public anxieties and increases uncertainty, skepticism and distrust. As argued, younger Central and Eastern European democracies appear to be more seriously affected by these societal changes, as well as by their outcomes and effects, than Western European societies where long-lasting democratic practices and traditions have secured certain conditions and mechanisms for healthier performance of their media and public engagement in communal matters. The chapter makes the suggestion that contemporary societal developments call for the reinvention of the normative vision and recognized ideals of professional journalism. Acceleration of History, Political Instabilities and Media Change This chapter provides a critical interpretation of political and social transition in post-communist Europe. It mostly looks at media transformations and argues that change goes deeper than just an institutional revision and adaptation, and in fact affects public perceptions and wider social and cultural changes. It argues that transitional societies are especially susceptible to instability and risk, which is a result of speedy institutional development and the choices made by key elite groups as well as the general public. CEE societies can be looked at as a 'test case', a kind of ëexperimental group of countriesí, or even a new type of ësocial laboratoryí, where countless controversies of postmodern life, such as increasing individualization and group polarization, are observed, identified, and tested.

From page no: 20

To page no: 44

Anthology: European Media in Crisis: Values, Risks and Policies

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