[URBANTH-L]CFP: Seeking panelist for "Hierarchy and Power..."

Veronica Usachyova veronius at rambler.ru
Mon Aug 29 22:28:21 EDT 2005

June 13-16, 2006, Moscow, Russia

If you are interested in participating in the panel below, please 
Veronica Usacheva at veronuis at rambler.ru

MODERN MASS MEDIA AND PUBLIC SPHERE: New Challenges and Opportunities 
for Democracy

Globalization has created new challenges in information space. New 
models of communication have emerged. Their influence overcomes 
states’ borders and, what is even more serious, they have a great 
potential and capabilities for destroying the basis and cultural 
values of a society. In the classical interpretation by Jurgen 
Habermas the “public sphere” is the arena within which a debate 
occurs. It is the zone where access to information is sufficient for 
more probable rational discourse and looking for mutually acceptable 
public standards. The public sphere is where ideas, information and 
knowledge are shared, where ideas generated and opinions are 
constructed. Although real and experienced, the public sphere cannot 
be located in a particular place or identified as an object. It is not 
a physical spot where discourse has consequences. For Habermas, 
correctly functioning public sphere restricts state power and gives 
possibilities through which democracy could be realized. Ideally, the 
public sphere should be free from limitations, both private interests 
and state control. Nowadays the public sphere as a zone of modern 
discourse is distorted by unequal access to information, power and 
prosperity. What is the role of modern mass media in the public 
sphere's formation? What possibilities do they offer citizens to seek, 
receive, and impart information? How do mass media provide equal 
access to them for different social groups and individuals? Is equal 
access possible in the modern world? During the 20th century the state 
became a serious player on the public sphere stage, being sometimes 
authoritarian or totalitarian monopolist. Information control can 
serve as a part and parcel of nation-building. At the same time, media 
manipulation can become a weapon of mass deconstruction. What kind of 
public sphere can exist in the situation of increasing influence of 
the state and economic interests on mass media? Where is the solution 
to overcome the elitist character of the public sphere? The progress 
of communications gives new opportunities for people to overcome 
limitations and deficiencies, even social norms and social control. 
The many point out that new mass media are revolutionizing the nature 
of discourse. The crucial question is: Do people receive now more 
information than before? Do we have more zones for public discourse, 
than before? Are there any new possibilities for broad and unlimited 
freedom of expression, including critical to authorities? The panel 
will cover both theoretical and empirical approaches to the mentioned 
above problems and encourages papers that deal with the following: 
public sphere / public sphericules; modern mass media in maintenance 
the institutions of civil societies and democracy; public discourses, 
their competition and hierarchical relations.

Paper proposals are due on November 1, 2005, and should be no more 
than 300 words in English, accompanied  by the information includes 
full name, title, institutional affiliation, full mail and e-mail 
addresses, and fax #. The working languages of the Conference are 
Russian and English.

Convenor: Dr. Veronica V. Usacheva (Department of Cultural 
Anthropology, Center for Civilizational and Regional Studies, Russian 
Academy of Sciences, 30/1 Spiridonovka st., 123001 Moscow, Russia; 
Tel.: + 7 095 291 4119; Fax: + 7 095 202 07 86; E-mails: 
veronius at mail.ru, veronius at rambler.ru)


More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list