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Internet-Mediated Communication and Politics in the Post-Soviet World

Mon, June 13, 9:30 to 10:45, Fukuoka Hilton, Kusu

Session Submission Type: Panel

Abstract

The democratizing potential of the Internet communication in terms of raising the efficacy of public deliberation is a highly disputable matter within several media and political research fields. This dispute seems to be especially relevant for transitional democracies like post-Soviet countries, where traditional media have for long experienced flaws in democratic development (Vartanova 2013, Bodrunova&Litvinenko 2015) The recent societal developments and changes in the media systems in the post-Soviet states (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in particular) raise the question whether the rapid spread of internet-mediated communication in non-democratic states in the past two decades has empowered democratic forces – or rather played in the hand of ruling elites (cf. Diamond, 2010, Deibert and Rohozinski, 2010; Howard and Parks, 2012)? While speculation on this question has recently been pervasive both in academic journals and the mass media, according to leading scholars in the field (cf. Howard and Parks, 2012), a strong body of academic research on this question is only in the emerging. Within the current debate, there is a surprising scarcity of case-based, cross-national perspectives (cf. Howard and Parks, 2012). This is precisely the gap that this panel hopes to contribute to fill in, by bringing together scholars from three countries (Russia, Germany, and Ukraine), who will share the results of their research on Russia and Ukraine, which represent two excellent cases to study the consequences of the digitalization of political communication in the post-Soviet space. The comparative approach to Russian and Ukrainian media studies has gained new relevance in the post-Maidan phase as we could observe the major differences in development trajectories of the hybrid media systems of the two countries.
What role do journalists play in the new environment of the hybrid media systems of the post-Soviet states? Will the common public space of social networks become a new public sphere in these countries? Can social networks that foster the protests also be ‘a new glue’ of the nation or their only reinforce fragmentation of public sphere? The panel presents a theoretical reflection on the approaches to study the new developments of the post-Soviet journalism cultures, as well as three case studies from Russia and Ukraine, focused on the role of Internet-based communication in the recent protest movements in both countries.
Keywords: collective action, protest, Russia, Ukraine, social networking platforms, case study method, semi-structured interviews, comparing media systems, social movements

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