governance and democratization of global media - university of lucerne 2009

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MA course offered at the Department of Political Sciences, University of Lucerne, Switzerland, 2009

The course addresses the political environment of trans-national policy processes in the issue area of media and communications, and establishes the link between 'good' governance and democratic media as functional to citizens’ participation in modern democracies. It combines the governance approach with the civil society normative perspective in looking at the globalized media system. In this course we want to explore the recent rise of multi-actor governance and the role and politics of civil society in the field of media and communications.

The course is divided in three blocks, addressing respectively media and their role in democracies, the governance system, and the civil society’s normative perspective. We will start off by analysing the characteristics of different types of media and their role in our societies, reflecting on the connections between media and the democratic process. We will reflects on engaged citizenship and the changing role of the state, and make the point for 'democratic' media.

The second block is devoted to media and communications governance: we will trace the shift from government to governance, considering public, private and mixed governance arrangements beyond the state, as well as the role of increasingly concentrated media corporations. First, we will have a look at the globalized media system from a political economy perspective. We will then see how media and telecommunications have been governed in the past, and concentrate on the governance bodies where decisions are taken nowadays, such as the International Telecommunication Union and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. We will finally look at global summits as laboratories for participatory governance, and discuss crucial moments of transnational media policy-making, such as the New World Information and Communication Order in the 1970s and the recent World Summit on the Information Society.

The third block will present a normative perspective on media governance, building on the notion of 'democratic' media we developed in the first sessions. We will discuss the role of civil society as a global political actor, mapping its interventions through official policy channels but also new forms of resistance, from alternative, community, and citizen-based media to culture jamming and mobilization for media reform and the 'right to communicate', which contest the increasing concentration of control and power in global media.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of global media governance
  • Apply academic concepts and case-specific knowledge on global governance to the policy field of media and communications
  • Critically evaluate the impact and role of civil society in the media policy making process
  • Identify key historical moments of civil society intervention in media policy-making
  • Engage with debates around contestations to global media power, alternative media and social movements
  • Expand their perspectives from a local and/or regional focus to the global level
  • Discuss the (inter)relationship between national, local and global media policies
  • Identify and critically assess relevant approaches from several academic disciplines, including political science and international relations, to media policy problems
  • Enhance their abilities to design, plan and carry out a research project, and to present and discuss ideas in a clear, effective and engaging way