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Participation is not enough. The conditions of possibility of mediated participatory practices
Vrije Universiteit Brussel.ORCID iD: ncarpent
2009 (English)In: European Journal of Communication, ISSN 0267-3231, E-ISSN 1460-3705, Vol. 24, no 4, 407-420 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The popularization of 'new' Internet-based media has generated much optimism about the social and participatory-democratic potentialities of these media, leading to predictions about the demise of the mass communication paradigm, and its replacement by a many-to-many communicative paradigm. But as happened before, the reappraisal of participation also produced a number of theoretical, conceptual and empirical problems. Participation became (at least partially) an object of celebration, trapped in a reductionist discourse of novelty, detached from the reception of its audiences and decontextualized from its political-ideological, communicativecultural and communicative-structural contexts. These celebratory perspectives on participation cover how some of the basic concepts of the mass communication paradigm are still very much alive, providing the discursive frameworks for the reception of old and new media products. This article aims to show the persistence of (a number of components of) the mass communication paradigm through an analysis of the reception of two north Belgian participatory media products. One of these case studies is based on the 'new' world of a YouTube-like online platform called 16plus; the second case study is based on the 'old' concept of access television in a 2002 TV programme called Barometer. Through an analysis of these multilayered audience receptions, this article shows that participatory practices are not unconditionally appreciated by audience members, but are subject to specific conditions of possibility that are still embedded within the mass communication paradigm. Albeit in different degrees, these case studies show the importance of two 'old' key concepts - professional quality and social relevance - for these audiences' evaluation of participatory practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 24, no 4, 407-420 p.
Keyword [en]
media studies, participation, quality, relevance
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-278074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-278074DiVA: diva2:906131
Available from: 2016-02-23 Created: 2016-02-23 Last updated: 2016-02-23

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