Archive for 2021

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[Commlist] new book: Performance of participation

Fri Feb 12 17:15:59 GMT 2021

New book:

The Performance of Participation in Russian Alternative Media: Discourse, Materiality and Affect in Grassroots Media Production in Contemporary Russia (Doctoral thesis, monograph)

by Filimonov, Kirill

The text is open access, and can be downloaded here:

Abstract [en]

This doctoral dissertation analyzes participation in alternative media, taking the reader to the Russia of the late 2010s. Bringing together discourse theory, media and communication studies and political theory, it approaches participation in media production through the lens of performativity. The conceptualization of participation as a performance helps explore the material, embodied and spatial enactments of discourses that sustain the fragile and unstable process of production.

The data of this study comprise several months of participant observations, interviews with media producers, and textual analysis of media content. The research employs a case-study method and focuses on media that explicitly delegate their participants the right to co-decide on matters of content production and internal organizing process. The three cases under study are Russia’s oldest anarchist medium Avtonom, the student medium DOXA, and the web-based zine Discours. Data analysis integrates qualitative content analysis and a discourse-theoretical approach, informed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory alongside its subsequent developments within the Essex School.

The study looks into the distribution of power in alternative media amidst an internal diversity, material constraints, and an antagonistic relationship with the state. The analysis constructs a model of participation, which shows its embeddedness into multiple and partially overlapping communities. A vibrant sociality and the potential for a further expansion of the media communities emerge as two of the key conditions of the participatory process. Furthermore, participation is supported by an ongoing performance of a multiplicity of identities, in which the more elitist articulations of journalism are intertwined with some empowering and counter-hegemonic notions of media production, media producers, and the audience.

Retaining a critical-explanatory focus, the dissertation explores the limits of power-sharing, such as the persistence of journalistic professionalism, the scarce resources of the media and vulnerability inflicted by the state. The static representation of the state as the major confronting force reveals the paradoxical nature of social antagonism: while mobilizing the limited resources, it also reduces participatory intensities and triggers a politics of trust that restricts access to media production.

This dissertation offers a number of theoretical and empirical contributions to several fields. Some of its key insights relate to participation beyond institutional politics, the hybridity of mainstream and alternative media, the interconnection of discourse, materiality and affect, and an empirical applicability of discourse theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021. , p. 200
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