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Medialization of social institutions, communities and everyday life

Priority areas of development: sociology
Department: School of Media

The purpose of the study: сonceptualization of the mediatized practices of individuals, communities and social institutions.

Methods: As a general conceptual framework of the research authors used the theory of mediation of society and culture is being developed by  F. Krotz, A. Hepp, N. Couldry, K. Lundby, S. Hjarvard, S. Livingstone, and others.

Such empirical methods as monitoring of the open online sources, in-depth interviews, expert interviews, observation of the online practices, structural analysis of the media content, visual analysis, historical and cultural analysis, legal analysis of the documents, secondary data analysis were used. The research is primarily based on a qualitative approach.

Empirical base of the research: the project unites several subtopics; each research case has its own empirical base. In common the research project is based on the analysis of the in-depth and expert interviews, online observations, as well as the results of studying media content and regulatory documents. In addition, various statistical data from open sources were used.

Results. The authors came to the following conclusions:

a) The concept of mediatization reflects the relationship of socio-cultural changes with changes in media technologies. The process of mediatization is characterized by duration, universality, totality, transformability and nonlinearity. Mediation is effective in all segments and at all levels of social life, transforming the spatial-temporal and social order of the society. At the same time, different "social worlds" can have a different degree of mediatization and the forms of its manifestation. The mediatization concept marks a new interdisciplinary field of еру research - mediatization studies.

b) Digital technologies can optimize the systems of state and municipal management, building new types of relations both within state structures, and between power and society. The implementation of the concept of e-government in Russia is experiencing a number of problems related to the rigidity of government structure, poor interface of official sites, poor quality content, imitation of interaction between government services and citizens. Nevertheless, the development of the Common Government Services Portal of Russian Federation, as well as other electronic and mobile services, contribute the modernization of Russian governance system.

c) Social media becomes an instrument for the acquisition and use of the social capital, which enhances the opportunities for professional growth. Social networks contribute to this by increasing interpersonal relationships and joining professional communities. All strategies for obtaining professional advantages (from adding contacts to self-branding) involve strong, weak or latent links. Social media (for example, Facebook) can be quite effective for professional communications, but it doesn’t worth to overestimate their importance as a tool for job search and career growth.

d) The processes of mediatization of the culture transform commemorative practices associated with the preservation of socio-historical memory and oral traditions. The city becomes a space of mediatized memory, creating the various types of communication between visitors and local residents with memorable places, including practices of photographing them (as in the case of monuments in Berlin). In another case, we learned how the oral culture of narration in the digital media environment was transformed: a new generation of narrators modified the tradition, adapted it to new media for the purpose of popularization.

e) The processes of the mediatization of the sociopolitical movements and civic activism, in particular, occurring through the use of transmedia instruments, are of the great importance. While the political establishment reluctantly applies the transmedia, trying to avoid the effects of participative democracy, the transmedia storytelling becomes the main form of engaging audiences in political and social transformations. Vivid examples of Russian transmedia activism are the projects of Alexey Navalny and the art group Partizaning (Partizaning.org).

f)  The growth of Internet popularity and protest movements in Russia 2011-2012 formed new challenges, to which the state responded by increasing restrictive laws. These laws often used European legal concepts (such as "protecting children from harmful information", "insulting the feelings of believers", "rehabilitation of Nazism", "justification of terrorism"). However, their Russian version contrasts significantly with the vision of these concepts in the standards of the Council of Europe, implying wider restrictions than is provided by the international law.

g) The specifics of the Russian media system are manifested in a special configuration of the media and public spheres, as well as the role of the state as the main "gatekeeper". It is necessary to distinguish: (a) the official public sphere, focused on the mass audience and the mainstream media; (b) a parallel institutionalized public sphere gathered around the opposition and "liberal" media; с) a non-institutionalized public sphere that relies on social media. In the last two cases, we are talking about "alternative" media. The state is able to control the migration of messages from one public sphere to another, thereby transforming some political forces into isolated "information ghettos".


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