Landing : Athabascau University

Maria Bakardjieva

Last updated March 31, 2013 - 12:55pm by Mark A. McCutcheon

Maria Bakardjieva, Professor of Communication, U of Calgary

“Navigating the ‘Mediapolis’: Digital Media and Emerging Practices of Democratic Participation” 

Abstract: The contemporary media environment is in the process of significant reconfiguration. One of its key elements is the massive uptake of new media in all areas of political, social and personal life. Notably, citizens acting as individuals and groups, creatively invent ways of employing new communication tools for the purpose of putting their concerns to the attention of the larger public, to the policy-makers of their respective countries as well as the international community. What Roger Silverstone (2007) has called “the mediapolis”, or the mediated space of appearance in which the public world is constituted, nowadays encompasses a remarkable variety of technological and organizational forms and practices. In this complex environment, the old, traditional, or ‘legacy’ media continue to play the role of key nodes. Hence, the intertwining and interaction between the new, flexible, personal, and informal communication tools and practices on the one hand, and established media institutions on the other is important to understand. Moving between these different sets of tools and communication repertoires has become a necessary skill for citizens and civic groups who want to make their voices heard and their causes attended to. This paper will examine cases of effective civic initiatives with a view to the strategies and competencies necessary for successful navigation of the digital mediapolis. Recent theoretical debates concerning the relationship between digital media and democratic participation will be revisited and re-interpreted on that basis.