The democratic (media) revolution: A parallel history of political and media participation

Carpentier, N., Dahlgren Peter, Pasquali Francesca (2013). The democratic (media) revolution: A parallel history of political and media participation. Nico Carpentier, Kim Schrøder and Lawrie Hallett (Ed.). Audience transformations. Shifting audience positions in late modernity, 123-141London: Routledge.

Abstract: Participation is a central thematic within theories of democracy and points to questions of citizens’ inclusion in decision-making. Taking a broad historical sweep, this chapter traces the genealogies of two intersecting fields: media participation and political participation, within the context of the Western democracies. The history of participation in media organisations begins with the power struggles in print media organisations in the 17th and 18th centuries, and continues into the 19th and 20th centuries, with the professionalisation of journalism, the emergence of alternative media, and the rise of the internet. The genealogy of political participation is an equally impressive account of struggles, setbacks and progress, and is inexorably linked to the establishment of democracy. Focusing on the 20th and 21st century, this chapter highlights the democratic revolution and the establishment of civic cultures in both societal fields, and how they interlock and strengthen each other, contributing to the gradual structural transformation of Western societies. While avoiding utopianism, the analysis retains a guarded optimism for the long-term, offering a counterpoint to the understandably troubled portraits of contemporary democracy. At the same time it also decidedly avoids any reductionist privileging of new media as ultimate sites of participation.