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Regular version of the site
Master 2020/2021

Russian Media System

Type: Elective course (Russian Studies)
Area of studies: Political Science
Delivered by: School of Media
When: 1 year, 3, 4 module
Mode of studies: offline
Master’s programme: Российские исследования
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus


This course deals with peculiarities of Russian media system especially in relations with social, political and cultural structures grounded into Russian social life. This course represents a particular vision of Russian situation with media trough conflict of two sets of rules: imported (or globalized) rules which has been implanted into Russian media field during last 20 years like journalism news culture, private access to media ownership, advertising-based financing model; and grounded rules (or non-formal institutions based on cultural and social traditions inherited during centuries) like modernizational enlightening activity of the state, regulation and pressure to content, orientation to accessibility of cultural and media products, propagandist functions, restricted access into media ownership field etc. The interaction of this rules shapes the peculiarity of Russian media and shows their ties with cultural, political and social tradition. based on interdisciplinary approach and articulates methodologies of different sciences. It examines relationships and connection between media system and social changes (which affects audiences of media and their symbolical power), institutions (both formal and non formal institutions), cultural traditions based on social habits and political traditions.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Examine political, social, cultural, geographical development of Russia and their connection with media system
  • Provide wide historical background for understanding Russian media peculiarities
  • Explore transformation of social life in Russia and its influence on media systems
  • Define the role of media and communication systems in collapse of Soviet Union
  • Describe contemporary media industry in terms of correspondence with contemporary Russian society and political economy
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Able to use main tools and main framework to compare media systems from western approach toward non-western
  • Describes the role of media and symbolic institutions in social development
  • Able to express arguments against the transitional theory in field of media
  • Able to explain the duality of the Russian media culture
  • Able to build a map of communication control including both interpersonal communications and mass communications and cultural forms
  • Names historical roots of ideological control
  • Correctly establish the periodization of post-communist media dynamics
  • Express the media deterministic vision of the Soviet Union collapse
  • Describes peculiarity of the post-soviet fractured public sphere
  • Traces the evolution of the political control of Russian media
  • Describes post-communist political economy of media
  • Able to identify key market and non-market principles of the media economy in Russia
  • Formulate key identities issues and cultural dependece of Russian media
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Media and social institutions: conceptual framework to understanding Russia's media peculiarity
    General theoretical framework to understand the comparing media system approach. Media as symbolic institutions. Types of interaction and their evolution in field of digital environment. How media enabled the development of social institutions. Comparing media system approach. Main connection between political regime framework and media.
  • Critic of the transitional paradigm in media field in Russia
    The great “delusion” of transformation and critics of transformational views of Russian media. Contemporary Russian media like based on interaction of imported rules and on social tradition. Overestimation by foreign scholars of “rupture” between pre-soviet development and soviet one. Arguing continuity between tsarist Russia media development and soviet media development which is based on path-dependence of social, economic, political development. Duality of political system development and grounded constant mix between “liberal” and “servile” tradition in Russian history. Phenomenon of Russian economic mentality.
  • Pre-Soviet and Soviet communication control
    Concept of “communication control” in USSR and the importance of such control in ensuring stability in USSR. Double identity question and role of mass-communication in creating “soviet” identity. Role of mobility control and binding the population to territory in USSR. Creating the audience of soviet media: increasing literacy level. Soviet Union like identity “created literary tradition”. Role of mass media in geographical, ethnical, political and profession identity creation. Censorship system. Soviet culture industries and “vertical” principle of ideological control. Economic and industrial structure of soviet cultural industries. Filtering like main principle of cultural import. Audience passivity in system of “limited access” to alternative media means.
  • Role of media in post-soviet political dynamics
    Presenting two main concepts of media determinist approach in post-soviet transformation. Tristan Mattelart’s concept of “Troyan horse” and influence of foreign imported content to soviet audiences. “Parallel public sphere” and parallel flows of culture (foreign radio, illegal traffic of western music, prohibited literature, video) and their role in political protests and social activism. Concept of “informational” collapse of Soviet Union like system organically non-compatible with “informational” revolution by Manuel Castells. Perestroika like state-imposed reform trying to improve economic development in USSR and ensure the transition from extensive “industrial statism” to intensive knowledge-based “informational statism”.
  • Media and political institutions in post-soviet Russia
    Discussing periodization of post-soviet media history. Different approach to identifying periods. Approach by B. McNair. Approach by Y. Zassoursky. Approach by T. Rantanen. Approach by I. Zassoursky. Critics of approaches, common periods and peculiarities. Main criterion - different politico economical relations between media and administrative power. Question of continuity in ties between media, oligarchic capital and administrative power. Main periods: glasnost (glasnost from above and from below), golden age, mass-media feudalization, oligarchic wars, submission of groups to federal power, redistribution of media capital among another oligarchic groups. Public sphere in Russia and its structure. Off-line and online dynamics.
  • Media and economic institutions in post-soviet Russia
    The structure of Russian media capital and its evolution. Key revolution of state financial support: from general support to “address” support. From “supporting pluralism” (under laws of first half of 1990s) to “manage content” model of support. Crucial state support like a break in development of media market. Creating “double structure of revenues” for main media outlets: state support never has been an obstacle to play on advertising market. Public ownership for printing houses. Open “grant” system for support of content production like a path to control media content. Target financed programs: “Culture of Russia” and “Electronic Russia”. Econometric approach in terms of figures and penetration increase without referring to “usage”. Direct financing without inciting to reforms. No-motivational approach. Dualism in objectives: “content policy” vs “market institutions building” policy.
  • Media and cultural institutions in post-soviet Russia
    Russia like country with extreme variety of different non-connected “markets” of media. Regional discrepancies in media markets. Geographical, urban, economical and social factors like influencing “cultural map”. Classification of regions according to media development. Changing values within media. From “politics interested” population to “entertainment oriented”. After dominance of foreign content during 1990s, in second half of 2000s we could see raise of local content. Entertainment genres and their transformation. Methods of direct pressure on news and directive news media control. Informational ghettos and creating two “images”. Accessibility of content. Orientation of media and cultural industries on accessibility. Piracy and state-support practices like tolerated mechanisms of ensuring accessibility of propaganda.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Seminar 1
  • non-blocking Seminar 2
  • non-blocking Seminar 3
  • non-blocking Homework 1
  • non-blocking Homework 2
  • non-blocking Homework 3
  • non-blocking Final essay
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.5 * Final essay + 0.1 * Homework 1 + 0.1 * Homework 2 + 0.1 * Homework 3 + 0.05 * Seminar 1 + 0.075 * Seminar 2 + 0.075 * Seminar 3


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Arutunyan, Anna. Media in Russia, McGraw-Hill Education, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=480619.
  • Buss, Andreas E.. The Russian-Orthodox Tradition and Modernity, BRILL, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=253765.
  • Carothers, Thomas, and Gramont, Diane de. Development Aid Confronts Politics : The Almost Revolution, Brookings Institution Press, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1167366.
  • Castells, Manuel. The Power of Identity : The Information Age - Economy, Society, and Culture, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=470449.
  • Comparing Media Systems Beyond the Western World, edited by Daniel C. Hallin, and Paolo Mancini, Cambridge University Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=824469.
  • Elusive Russia : Current Developments in Russian State Identity and Institutional Reform under President Putin, edited by Katlijn Malfliet, and Ria Laenen, Leuven University Press, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1763003.
  • Gel'man, Vladimir, and Otar Marganiya. Resource Curse and Post-Soviet Eurasia : Oil, Gas, and Modernization, Lexington Books, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=616221.
  • Hallin, Daniel C., and Paolo Mancini. Comparing Media Systems : Three Models of Media and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2004. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=266614.
  • Johns, Adrian. The Nature of the Book : Print and Knowledge in the Making, University of Chicago Press, 1998. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=432247.
  • Jürgen Habermas. (1992). “L’espace public”, 30 ans après. Quaderni, (1), 161. https://doi.org/10.3406/quad.1992.977
  • Media Transformations in the Post-Communist World : Eastern Europe's Tortured Path to Change, edited by Peter Gross, and Karol Jakubowicz, Lexington Books, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1117146.
  • Mickiewicz, Ellen Propper. Split Signals : Television and Politics in the Soviet Union, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1990. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=272728.
  • North, D. C., Wallis, J. J., & Weingast, B. R. (2013). Violence and Social Orders. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.cup.cbooks.9781107646995
  • Parta, R. Eugene. Empirical Assessment of Radio Liberty and Western Broadcasting to the USSR During the Cold War, Hoover Institution Press, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3301867.
  • Remington, Thomas F.. The Russian Parliament : Institutional Evolution in a Transitional Regime, 19891999, Yale University Press, 2001. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3420189.
  • Rulyova, N., Hutchings, S. C., & Beumers, B. (2009). The Post-Soviet Russian Media : Conflicting Signals. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=253813
  • Russia's Identity in International Relations : Images, Perceptions, Misperceptions, edited by Raymond Taras, Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1039305.
  • The Emergence of the Global Political Economy. William Thompson and Jeremy Black
  • Zasoursky, Ivan. Media and Power in Post-Soviet Russia, Routledge, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4693161.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Tilly, C. (2010). Cities, states, and trust networks: chapter 1 of Cities and States in World History. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.D767F608