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Deliberative Media as Challenge to Mediatisation of Society

John Grönvall
Aalto University Helsinki
John Grönvall
Aalto University Helsinki
Lars Lundsten
University of Helsinki
Open Panel

Abstract

In our paper, we respond to the widely recognized need of mediated civic participation in the public political sphere in present-day Nordic societies. Presently, the legitimacy of democratic institutions is eroding due to accelerating decline in civic participation. While society has become increasingly mediatized, forms of active civic engagement still reside on physical presence and other non-mediated practices, e.g. to serve on public committees or municipal councils. Having earlier analyzed how the social practices, tools and methods offered by the present converging media landscape can be utilized for the purpose of active citizenship – we now go deeper into the Habermasian model of deliberative politics (Habermas 2007). Habermas identifies two major pathologies within the field of political communication (social deprivation induced selective access to mediated communication - colonization of the public sphere by market imperatives). We use these as our starting points when presenting our research questions as follows: Given the reflexive character of the public sphere – how can the laundering of political communication within the weak part of the public sphere, be managed in a way that could result in useful considered opinions? How can the resulting issues be interpreted by the strong part of the public sphere in an argumentative way, allowing for deliberative and reciprocal interaction between the two halves of the public sphere? Furthermore, we want to discuss the general effects of mediatization on the interrelationships between the institutional and individual levels of the private and public spheres respectively. This allows us to identify the how the modes of mediated political communication can be improved on thus, in the long run, increasing the moral legitimacy of our civic society.