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"Histories of media(ted) participation"

Communication Management Quarterly

N° 30, 2014. Coord. : Nico Carpentier & Peter Dahlgren. A télécharger en accès libre.

This special issue takes on the challenge to combine historical research with the study of participatory media, and participation in/through the media. The attention spent on the notion of participation has oscillated over time and within different academic disciplines and societal fields. In recent years, we can see a hopeful celebration of the capacities on online technologies to facilitate (or even embody) participatory practices. Reflections on these ‘new’ technologies in many cases have led to formulations of strong claims to novelty and uniqueness, in combination with processes of amnesia in relation to the societal roles of old media technologies. As Ekström et al. (2011 : 4) write : “by overstating the newness of participatory media, the history of audience activity [and media participation] is made invisible and the present elusively vague.” Apart from the need for historical research for its own sake, and the need to show the complexities and differences over time by going back to periods “when old technologies where new” – to quote Marvin’s (1988) book title – historical research is also very necessary to compensate for the mythologies of novelty that characterize contemporary reflections about ‘new’ – or better : online – media. Today’s digital media landscape is of course in constant evolution, and it is important to understand how its patterns of development, not least in regard to its political economy, technical architecture, and socio-cultural usage, embody built-in contingencies that both engender and delimit its efficacy for democratic participation. This special issue contains 6 articles that, each in their own ways, demonstrate the complexities, fluidities and limitations of specific participatory practices, located in the past and present, and the interconnections between different societal fields, such as the technological, the cultural, the political and the journalistic.

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