Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. November 2003

2.3. Media and cultural aspects of civil society
HerausgeberIn | Editor | Éditeur: Zrinjka Peruško (Zagreb)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Report: Media and cultural aspects of civil society

Zrinjka Peruško (Zagreb)


The session entitled "Media and cultural aspects of civil society" started from the understanding that civil society remains a multi-dimensional concept that has become unavoidable in discussions about post communist transitions and democratic consolidation. If transition is a discursive construction of democratic society, the media and the public domain are the locus where developing elements of values of civil society (like trust, civility, tolerance, as well as diversity, and pluralism) and its definitions may first be recognized. If civil society is a manner of organization of citizens, what new ways of cooperation and communication created by the new information and communication technologies can we recognize? How does the networked society function in the field of culture (which should be most receptive to new forms of civil organization)? Is there an emerging global civil society, created by the networks of communication (and technology)? Can the development of civil society be encouraged by public policy and how does civil society influence the public policy in the field of culture?

The session heard 7 excellent papers which looked at these aspects and drew a lot of discussion by the participants. The papers discussed the role of the traditional mass media and the Internet in fostering civil society, the Croatian theoretical approaches and empirical research on civil society, the role of civil society in the policy making process at the level of cultural policy, and the media role in framing the issue of otherness and the issue of responsibility. Several of the papers highlighted the situation in Croatia and the rest of the Central and Eastern Europe, looking at the media and cultural issue of civil society in the context of democratic transition. Other papers universalized the topic to show that some concerns, like the trust and responsibility of the media and within the civil society, are of common concern.

Several themes came up in several papers and were also picked up in discussion that we could say provide us with the conclusions of the session.

Among these are certainly our belief in the possible positive role of the media, both the traditional mass media and the Internet, in fostering civil society. At the same time the threats to this positive role were highlighted, including among the most important the strong trend of media commercialization and concentration, which has a negative influence on the freedom of choice, diversity and pluralism of the media, as well as on the ideas and topics they bring to the public sphere. This was seen as a possible threat to the development of civil society in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.

Another theme that emerged was the issue of responsibility and shared resources within civil society, and the possibility of the media to foster this. The role of virtual networks and the internet was seen as a possible tool in voicing the concerns of the civil society, while the threat of concentration and monopolization of media driven by international corporations was seen as the greatest threat to the development and the continued existence of a plural and diverse civil society. The group also agreed that the concept of tolerance should be replaced by the concept of mutual respect, as the first concept overstresses the power relationship between the tolerated and the one who tolerates. Civil society was seen as the integral part of the future societies we want to live in.

© Zrinjka Peruško (Zagreb)

2.3. Media and cultural aspects of civil society

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Zrinjka Peruško (Zagreb): Report: Media and cultural aspects of civil society. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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