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The ‘Captured Liberal’ Model of Media Systems in Latin America

Typologies are a central tool of comparative analysis in the social sciences. Typologies identify common patterns in the relationships among elements of media systems and wider social systems, and serve to generate research questions about why particular patterns occur in particular systems, why particular cases may deviate from common patterns, and what the consequences of these patterns may be.

They are important for specifying the context within which particular processes operate, and therefore for identifying possible system-level causes, specifying the scope of applicability of theories, and assessing the validity of measurements across systems. Typologies of media systems date to the publication of Four Theories of the Press , which proposed a typology of authoritarian, libertarian, social responsibility and Soviet Communist media systems.

Hallin and Mancini proposed three models differentiated on the basis of four clusters of variables: the development of media markets; the degree and forms of political parallelism; journalistic professionalism; and the role of the state.

Researchers have also begun efforts to develop typologies including media systems outside of Western Europe and North America. Typologies of media systems have been fundamental to comparative analysis in media studies since the publication of Four Theories of the Press Systematic research developing and employing such typologies has expanded greatly since the late s.

Typologies, in general, have been a central tool of comparative social analysis since Aristotle distinguished among democratic and oligarchic constitutions, as well as five varieties of kingship. A type concept, in general, involves a cluster of characteristics, or as Stinchcombe , pp. Type-concepts and typologies are used widely in the sciences: elements in chemistry or diseases in medicine are examples of type-concepts. Type concepts and typologies in social theory identify patterns in social interaction and facilitate theorizing about why particular patterns occur and what their consequences are.

A system, in the most basic definition, is a set of interrelated elements. A media system is thus a set of media institutions and practices understood as interacting with and shaping one another see Hallin, ; Hardy, , pp.

Media systems are embedded within wider social, political, economic, and cultural systems. Indeed, in many systems they may not be clearly differentiated; media may be a part of the state, for example, or of the internal structure of an ethnic group.

Analysis of types of media systems is therefore often centrally focused on understanding their relationships with other social sub-systems. In practice, most comparative analysis of media systems has focused not on media systems in their totality but on sets of elements related to news media, political communication, and media policy and governance which are seen as particularly closely interrelated, excluding, for example, detailed analysis of cultural industries like the film, music, and video game industries, for which other sets of concepts might be relevant.

This focus on the media-politics nexus is related to a tendency to assume that the correct unit of analysis for developing typologies of media systems is the nation-state, though other units of analysis are sometimes employed.

The first typology of media systems was proposed by Siebert, Peterson, and Schramm in Four Theories of the Press Fred S. Siebert, Theodore Peterson and Wilbur Schramm argued that a communication system reflects the structure of the society in which it operates, and that this relationship is determined by philosophical assumptions about human nature, state and society, knowledge, and truth.

The authoritarian theory, they argued, grew out of the absolutist states that prevailed in most of Europe when the printing press was introduced. It was based on the premise that the maintenance of social order depended on centralized state authority and required state control or guidance of communications media. Historically, they argued, this has been the most common model of communication system.

The libertarian theory developed in the United States and Britain, was based on the liberal philosophy expressed by writers such as John Milton and J. The social responsibility theory was a modification of the libertarian theory, articulated in the United States and Britain in the years just before the publication of Four Theories.

It was based on critiques of the libertarian theory which stressed inequality of access to media in the age of large-scale media industries and the possibility that propaganda could overwhelm the rationality on which enlightenment philosophy was based. The social responsibility theory advocated correcting the deficiencies of libertarianism through professionalism, self-regulation, and limited state intervention.

The Soviet Communist theory was understood as a variation of the authoritarian theory, in which the state—which incorporated media directly rather than leaving them in private hands—used the media as a tool of social transformation, rather than merely restricting them to prevent disruption of social order.

Siebert, Peterson and Schramm considered the Nazi media system to be similar to the Soviet in many ways. Four Theories of the Press has justifiably been subjected to intense criticism over the years. It was based on limited empirical analysis and a small range of cases, and its applicability to systems other than the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union was very limited. It was heavily influenced by the dichotomous thinking typical during the Cold War.

It also left considerable ambiguity about whether the typology was really a typology of theories of the press—that is of philosophical or ideological systems—or of actual media systems as institutional structures and patterns of interaction. For a long time, Four Theories of the Press dominated the limited body of comparative research on media systems, though efforts were made from time to time to revise their typology or propose alternatives, as for example by Altschull and Picard Curran proposed a typology of European media systems based on the way they combined collectivist and market-based approaches, distinguishing among centrally regulated media markets Britain , mandated markets Netherlands , regulated markets Sweden , and mixed systems that would combine public, civic, and market sectors, which were being discussed in Eastern Europe early in the transition from Communism.

Sustained research on types of media systems began to take off in the s. Hallin and Mancini analyzed eighteen liberal democracies in Western Europe and North America and argued that three distinct patterns could be identified in the development of Western media systems.

The differentiation of these models was organized around four main dimensions of comparison:. The degree and forms of political parallelism, that is, the extent to which the structure of the media system parallels the divisions of the political party and interest group system;.

Using these dimensions, Hallin and Mancini identify three patterns in the development of Western media systems, which they refer to as the North Atlantic or Liberal model, the North-Central European or Democratic Corporatist model, and the Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralist model. The Liberal model is characterized by a dominant role of commercial media: limited state involvement, consistent with the general liberal tendency in political economy; lower but varying levels of political parallelism; and a relatively high level of journalistic professionalism.

The Democratic Corporatist model is characterized by strong development of mass circulation newspapers, rooted both in commercial and in party newspapers; a history of high political parallelism associated with the role of media connected to parties and organized social groups; a positive role of the state in promoting a pluralistic media system, parallel to the strong welfare states in these systems; and a strong development of journalistic professionalism.

The Polarized Pluralist model is characterized by a media system that is more closely tied to the political world than to the market, with high political parallelism; a press that addresses politically active elites more than the mass public; a relatively interventionist role of the state; and a lower level of journalistic professionalism.

They are not conceived as the actual phenomena under study, or as the final product of comparative analysis. They highlight both common and divergent patterns between media systems and raise questions about why particular groups of systems may be similar in certain ways, or why a particular case may resemble others in many ways but deviate from a common pattern in one respect or another.

Hallin and Mancini thus conceive of some systems as mixed systems with respect to their models. They see the United Kingdom, most notably, as a mixed case sharing important characteristics of both the Liberal and Democratic Corporatist models, and France as sharing characteristics of the Polarized Pluralist and Democratic Corporatist models.

Hallin and Mancini also make the argument, in contrast to Siebert, Peterson, and Schramm, that media systems are not homogeneous, that different institutions or segments of a media system may operate according to different logics, depending on such factors as their market structure or the particular history of their formation. It is common in Europe, for example, for the print press to be characterized by both commercialism and political parallelism, while television is characterized by a large public service sector and a norm of neutrality and internal pluralism.

Much of their analysis is concerned with showing how the historical contexts and political structures analyzed in political science and sociology are related to the development of media systems. They then develop measures to operationalize the key distinguishing characteristics of these models and assess the degree to which particular media systems reflect the ideal types—finding that they are generally mixed and not homogeneous, with tabloid and quality newspapers, for example, fitting different models.

Most typologies assume that media systems can be analyzed at the national level. This level of analysis usually makes sense, particularly in the analysis of news media and media policy, which are typically closely tied to national political institutions it would be less applicable to the analysis of cultural industries.

Media systems are composed of sub-national units, however, which may vary considerably, and they are also located within transnational structures that may have considerable influence. Some of these analyses involve proposed revisions of their typology, or proposals for alternative typologies.

The cases associated Hallin and Mancini's Democratic Corporatist model are broken into two clusters. The division of the Democratic Corporatist cluster persists in their second analysis, but the groupings of cases shifts. Portugal, for example, clearly fit the Polarized Pluralist model in the s, and Netherlands the Democratic Corporatist model in that period, and both have clearly moved, since then, in the direction of the Liberal model.

One of the functions of typologies, as Sartori points out, is to permit the mapping of those kinds of changes, and the next task clearly is to explain them. The splitting of Hallin and Mancini's Democratic Corporatist cluster into two groups of cases on the basis of differing roles of the state is consistent with other work in comparative politics, which often distinguishes between social democratic and liberal corporatist systems, and suggests an important revision of the original framework.

One question about this kind of analysis is whether the resulting clusters should be interpreted as distinct types in the sense that Weber or Sartori used the term—which implies that the patterns of similarity and difference have deep underlying historical or structural roots—or if they should be seen simply as empirical as clusters of what might be mixed cases.

They used correspondence analysis, a statistical technique that represents the similarity or difference of the cases in spatial terms. Considerable new research has also focused on assessing whether, as Hallin and Mancini argued, there was a tendency toward convergence of media systems toward the liberal model, with increased commercialization and the adoption of common professional norms.

This research has shown a complex combination of tendencies, but in general has documented that differences among media systems remain persistent. Four Theories of the Press purported to offer a universal typology, but its empirical basis lay almost exclusively in three cases, the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union.

Efforts to theorize about types of media systems beyond the Western world are still in their initial phase, but important contributions have been made in recent years.

This makes sense in many ways, both practical and theoretical. Geographical regions are often marked by common patterns of historical development that make the cases easier to compare, in the sense that the range of concepts required is smaller than it might be with a more diverse set of cases, and it is often easier for researchers to achieve adequate familiarity with the cases within a region.

But comparisons across regions are often extremely valuable. Stockman closes an analysis of what could be called market authoritarianism in Chinese media with comparisons with similar patterns in a number of other regions. Cross-regional comparisons often require a higher level of theoretical groundwork to make possible the identification of comparable cases—media in one-party dominant regimes South Africa, Turkey, or Mexico under the PRI might be an example.

They are characterized, above all, by the leading role of the party-state in social, economic, and political life, and, as Zhao points out, western models that assume a separation between state and media and then analyze forms of state intervention are inadequate to conceptualize the nature of such a system.

While the party-state does play a leading role in Communist systems, however, these systems are complex, and do not fit the purely top-down, unidimensional model presented in Four Theories of the Press , particularly with the introduction of market mechanisms in media and in social life more generally. Post-communist systems in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are also clearly distinct from Western models, though with stronger parallels than exist in most other areas of the world, particularly in the case of Eastern Europe.

This comparison has limitations, however, and there have been a number of efforts to develop typologies to distinguish distinct patterns of development among the former Communist states. Latin American political party systems, for example, do not, for the most part, fit European patterns. Latin American political parties, on the other hand, have been, with a few exceptions, more ephemeral, with shallower roots and indistinct ideological identities; and political competition is more personalized.

This point no doubt applies to many other parts of the world, including Eastern Europe, and suggests the need for different conceptualizations of the relation between media and politics. Their analysis points to the fact that Latin American media systems are characterized by the prevalence of private ownership and commercialization, but at the same time tend to be instrumentalized by political and economic actors.

Many media outlets, for example, remain heavily dependent on government advertising, which is allocated at the discretion of political authorities and used as a means of control. Broadcast licenses are often handed out as political patronage, and political actors are often involved in maneuvers to engineer takeovers of privately owned media to shift their political alignments. All Latin American media systems combine a wide range of different types of media, some more or less fully captured, and others more independent or professionalized.

There is also an important distinction to be made between dependent and powerful media. Media organizations that have few readers and little advertising base, and that survive by selling publicity to politicians or other actors are a common phenomenon in Latin America, as in much of the world, and clearly fit the concept of capture.

Latin American media systems are also characterized, however, by powerful, often transnational media conglomerates, centered around lucrative television markets, which often have the power to intervene in politics, influencing both elections and policy-making.

Latin America is extremely diverse, and probably, as with Western Europe, a full analysis of its media systems would require identifying a number of distinct patterns. Chile and Uruguay, for example, have highly concentrated private media ownership, as in other Latin American countries. But clientelism is less prevalent than in other countries, journalistic professionalization is higher, and the mechanisms of power are based less on instrumentalization by particular actors and more on the kinds of impersonal mechanisms familiar in Western systems.

This pattern involves capture or efforts at capture, but also contestation and, often, popular mobilization. In other Latin American countries—Mexico and Honduras, for example—violence against journalists is a central force shaping the media systems. This represents a different mechanism of control from those involved in capture: if the actors involved had captured media, they would not need to exercise violence. Theorizing about variations among African media systems has been limited, though Nisbet and Moeller 1 proposed a typology distinguishing among open democratic, liberalized democratic, liberalized autocratic, closed autocratic and repressive autocratic systems.

She distinguishes among military dictatorship, communist one-party rule, one-party rule in the context of statism, and personalized one-party rule in the context of weak state institutions, and argues that each tends to be associated with patterns in the role of media that shape subsequent development in a transition to democracy or to some intermediate political form.

Military dictatorships, for example, because ideology and political mobilization are typically not central to their rule, often encourage the development of commercialized, apolitical media; in personalized rule in the context of weak state institutions, media often have limited reach beyond urban areas and elites.

Substantial progress has been made in recent years in developing typologies of media systems, and a large body of comparative research is beginning to develop in which such typologies play a central role, though the scope of the research is still very uneven, centered mainly on Europe. Typologies identify common patterns in the relationships among elements of a media system and a wider social system, and they generate research questions about why particular patterns occur in particular systems, why particular cases may deviate from common patterns, and what the consequences of these patterns may be.

They often guide the construction of measures for use in comparative analysis, focusing attention on particular phenomena that might be expected to vary between systems, and guiding the construction of measures of these phenomena that would be valid across contexts—guiding researchers, that is, in thinking through what might reasonably be compared with what across systems.

Comparing media systems: three models of media and politics

Typologies are a central tool of comparative analysis in the social sciences. Typologies identify common patterns in the relationships among elements of media systems and wider social systems, and serve to generate research questions about why particular patterns occur in particular systems, why particular cases may deviate from common patterns, and what the consequences of these patterns may be. They are important for specifying the context within which particular processes operate, and therefore for identifying possible system-level causes, specifying the scope of applicability of theories, and assessing the validity of measurements across systems. Typologies of media systems date to the publication of Four Theories of the Press , which proposed a typology of authoritarian, libertarian, social responsibility and Soviet Communist media systems. Hallin and Mancini proposed three models differentiated on the basis of four clusters of variables: the development of media markets; the degree and forms of political parallelism; journalistic professionalism; and the role of the state. Researchers have also begun efforts to develop typologies including media systems outside of Western Europe and North America.

Comparing Media Systems: three models of media and politics

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Jump to navigation. Introduced by Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini, the book takes stock of twenty years of transformation of east European media systems after the collapse of communism in —an explicit, comparative, academic discussion of media politics. Leading researchers from different regions of Europe and the United States address five major interrelated themes: 1 how ideological and normative constructs gave way to empirical systematic comparative work in media research; 2 the role of foreign media groups in post-communist regions and the effects of ownership in terms of impacts on media freedom; 3 the various dimensions of the relationship between mass media and political systems in a comparative perspective; 4 professionalization of journalism in different political cultures—autonomy of journalists, professional norms and practices, political instrumentalization and the commercialization of the media; 5 the role of state intervention in media systems. Comparing between West and East - a comparative approach of transformation Hans J. Introducing Turkey to the three media system models. Actors, Evolution and production models in commodification of the Spanish television Laura Berges Saura.

Comparing Media Systems: three models of media and politics

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Comparative Media Systems

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