The social imaginary of new media practices : issues for discussion

  • Vatikiotis P
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New media practices (blogs, e-zines, online communities/forums, and wikies) involve considerable occurrences of representation and participation of the ordinary people, their activities and discourses in the social and political reality, mediating complex power relations and configurations across space and time. In this context, the understanding of the democratization of communication cannot but coming across new challenges and questions addressed by new mediating practices: Challenges: diverse instances of self-expression occur discursively, individually and collectively, echoing (re)negotiations of social identities, codes and relationships various social groups register symbolically their struggles and discourses in the public sphere new media practices are prolific conveyors of quotidian politics; the line demarcating the political and the non-political becomes blurry a continual and dynamic interface between alternative and mainstream media practices takes place questioning certainties and rigidities of public and commercial media, opening at the same time discursive spaces for the more fluid aspects of mainstream media identities Questions Do new media practices leave room for mutual recognition? To what extent do they envisage a broader societal dialogue across the full spectrum of adversarial interpretations and cultural practices? How and how far a shift of the social conflict field has taken place, from modernist ideological foundations of political identification to the collective individualism of lifestyle politics? What are the ways in which social actors find themselves in online environment while at the same time try to mould it according to their own culture? Could less deliberative modes of engagement in new media practices hobbies and features of play in general also be included in our evaluation of the democratization of communication? Reflection on new media practices and other active forces within the space of communication which contribute to its democratization sets a demanding agenda for researching their application in terms of the involved actors and their interactions. Issues regarding new medias contexts and situations, their relation to many facets of the wider mediascape, and the remarkable advances of peoples lived experience, are critical for conceptualizing an advanced understanding of the democratization of communication and its most profound processes.

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  • Pantelis Vatikiotis

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