Communication in movement: Social movements as agents of participatory democracy

Della Porta, D.
Information, Communication & Society, 14 (6), (S. 800-819).

Literature on social movements, mass media and democracy have rarely interacted. Research on democracy has tended to focus on representative institutions, pragmatically using ‘minimalistic’ operationalization of democracy as electoral accountability, and providing structural explanations of democratic developments. Research on the mass media also tended to isolate them as a separate power, reflecting on the technological constraints and opportunities for communication. Social movement studies have mainly considered democratic characteristics as setting the structure of political opportunities social movements have to address and – more rarely – looked at the constraints the mass media impose upon powerless actors. Structural, instrumental and institutional biases, in various combination, tended to characterize the three fields of studies. More recently, in all three fields of knowledge, some opportunities for reciprocal learning and interactions developed, moved by some exogenous, societal changes as well as disciplinary evolution. The author argues that looking at the intersection of democracy, media and social movements could be particularly useful within a relational and constructivist perspective, that takes normative positions by the different actors into account. More broadly, this would mean to pay attention to the permeability of the borders between the three concepts, as well as between the three fields they tend to separate. The article does this by looking first at the debate on recent transformations of democracy, described by labels such as post-democracy or counter-democracy, as well as on the New Media and social movements, and then at what recent research on social movements can add to them.

Zitation (APA)

Della Porta, D. (2011). Communication in movement: Social movements as agents of participatory democracy. Information, Communication & Society, 14(6), 800-819.