Is Participation in Community Media an Agent of Change?
In accounts of community media, participation is often described as a social process that is linked with social change. By encouraging participation, it is often argued, it should be possible to achieve socially progressive aims, such as civic democracy, social sustainability and the equitable redress of power imbalances. However, different conceptual frameworks of participation relate in different ways to the variable circumstances, practices and outcomes that are encompassed in community media. These differences are difficult to reconcile, as they relate to a wide range of dispositions and social phenomenon, which are themselves variable and indeterminate. The significance of participation as a conceptual tool, then, which is useful in the study of community media, must therefore be tested and re-examined in situ, and as it is related to the social practices that are observable. Using Herbert Blumer’s concept of neutral social processes, this paper draws on empirical evidence that was gathered from an extended period of ethnographically informed participation in Leicester’s community media networks. This study was undertaken as part of a doctoral thesis at the Centre for Commuting and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University, which sought to account for community media practices that were negotiated by agents acting in creative networks and situations. The conceptual underpinning of this study is an adaptation of Herbert Blumer’s assertion that social processes are neutral, and thereby necessitate a revaluation of our understanding of the frameworks of expectation that are associated with participative practices (Baugh, 1990; Blumer, 1990; Lauer & Handel, 1983).
Citation : Watson, R. (2018) Is Participation in Community Media an Agent of Change? MeCCSA 2018, London, January 2018
Research Group : Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility
Peer Reviewed : No
- Leicester Media School