Comparing alternative media : conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues

Introduction (1.000 words)

  • Many books published on alternative media in the last years are collective works, presenting different case studies, often in several countries, with very different political and social contexts. However, the dialogue between various disciplines, vocabulary, conceptual approaches, and national contexts doesn't seem to be always explained. How can the research look for conditions of comparability ? There is a growing contradiction between the fact to autonomize alternative/community/citizens' media studies on an academic level and the incredibly wide diversity of experiences covered by those studies. Is there a real unity ? If yes, what is it based on ?
  • Question of comparison in social science. Tool for producing knowledge and instrument of (de)legitimation. Work of Hallin, Mancini Comparing Media Systems. How can it help to understand alternative media “sub-systems” ?
  • What are the conceptual, theoretical and methodological tools useful for studying what is known as alternative/citizen/radical (etc.) media, from a scientific perspective ? Which means to ask: what are the tools not useful to study them ? This implies a critical perspective on the currently existing litterature on alternative media. What do we study alternative media for ? To help them growing, having better practices, changing the world, etc. - which can mean having a normative perspective of research, with all its limitations (example : idealization, fetichism) - or do the community of alternative media researchers has to make a clear distinction between their status of researchers and actors - which means maintaining open the possibility of a critical analysis of these media, and even radical critics (what are their beliefs, their ideologies, their rituals, their contradictions, their social conditions of existence, etc.). At last, can we consider that international comparison can be a way to disminish the (sometimes unconsciously) normative dimension of many alternative media study ? If wes, what are the categories of analysis that seem accurate to make such comparisons ?
  • During the VIIIth International Conference of the OURMedia Network, a pluri-disciplinary and critical roundtable on the question of inter-national or intra-national comparison of alternative media, has been set up by Benjamin Ferron and Kate Coyer, with several well-known scholars in this field : Clemencia Rodriguez, John Downing, Juan Salazar, Alfonso Gumucio-Dagron. [we need here to present the participants]
  • 3 main questions have been asked by Omar Rincon [presentation]: (1) What do the academics do with alternative media ? (2) What do alternative media do with the academics? (3) How to compare alternative media ?

Question 1 – What do the academics do with alternative media ? (1.000 words)

Question (60 words)

  1. Clemencia (150 words)
  2. John (150 words)
  3. Alfonso (150 words)
  4. Juan (150 words)
  5. Kate (150 words)
  6. Benjamin (150 words)

Transition (40 words)

Question 2 - What do alternative media do with the academics? (1.000 words)

Question (60 words)

  1. Clemencia (150 words)
  2. John (150 words)
  3. Alfonso (150 words)
  4. Juan (150 words)
  5. Kate (150 words)
  6. Benjamin : comparison was considered by the French XIXth Century sociologist Emile Durkheim as the basis of any knowledge. From a linguistic point of view, every word implies the comparison between different realities under a single name. From a methodological point of view, comparison is a difficult and demanding work : it requieres the definition of common criteria. However, many academical anthologies about alternative media establish parallels between various experiences in media, presupposing that they are comparable, but most of the time without explaining which are the criteria of comparison. In my own researches, I tried to distinguish 4 levels of comparison, within wich I define several indicators : 1) context of production; 2) Process of production; 3) Productors; 4) Productions (150 words)

Transition (40 words)

Question 3 – How to compare alternative media ? (1.000 words)

Question (60 words)

  1. Clemencia (150 words)
  2. John (150 words)
  3. Alfonso (150 words)
  4. Juan (150 words)
  5. Kate (150 words)
  6. Benjamin (150 words)

Transition (40 words)

Conclusion (500 words)

Bibliography

  • ATTON, Chris, Alternative media, London, Thousands Oaks and New Delhi, Routledge, Sage publications, 2002.
  • BADIE Bertrand, HERMET Guy, «La construction de la comparaison », in La Politique comparée, Paris, Armand Colin, 2001, pp. 7-89.
  • DOWNING, J., with VILLAREAL FORD, T., GIL, G. and STEIN, L., Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements, London, Thousands Oaks and New Delhi, Sage publications, 2001.
  • GIRAUD, Olivier, « Le comparatisme contemporain en science politique : entrée en dialogue des écoles et renouvellement des questions », in Lallement, M., Spurk, J., Stratégies internationales de la comparaison, Paris, CNRS, 2003, pp. 87-106.
  • HALLIN, Daniel, MANCINI, Paolo, Comparing Media Systems. Three models of Media and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2004
  • RODRIGUEZ, Clemencia, Fissures in the Mediascape. An international study of citizen’s media, Cresskill, New Jersey, Hampton Press Inc., 2001.
  • VIGOUR, Cécile, La comparaison dans les sciences sociales. Pratiques et méthodes, Paris, Guides Repères, La Découverte, 2005.
introduction/theorizing_alternative_media/comparing.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/09 20:09 (external edit)