News Practices and Theories of Global Civil Society

Dencik, Lina. 2010. News Practices and Theories of Global Civil Society. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

As processed of globalisation are seen to undermine traditional understandings of political democracy, much analysis and hope in academia currently rests on ideas of deliberation and post-national democratic practices - the roots of a 'global civil society' - that has taken force as not just an analysis of social and political change, but as a normative project. I argue that counter to much academic discussion, the very notion of a civil society needs to be subjected to rigorous critique given that so much of the discussion is based on an implicit, but problematic; account of changing conditions, not least within the media. In this thesis, I argue that advocates of 'global civil society' rest in an understanding of the media, especially the news, as playing a central role in three different, but overlapping, way: firstly, to transform political communities and provide the basis for 'global citizenship'; secondly, to provide the resources necessary for public deliberation in a 'global public sphere'; and thirdly, to facilitate the influence of non-elites by representing 'global public opinion'. This thesis interrogates this understanding of media developments by presenting original empirical research of different kinds of news organisations that all play a key role in the discussion on global civil society - global satellite news networks, traditional national/local news outlets, as well as 'alternative' online news sites - and argues that developments in news media do not sustain such an understanding. These assumed functions of the media are undermined by evidence that news practices are shaped by not only economic and strategic considerations rooted in specific cultural contexts, but also by a continuous nation-state defined world-view that rests on dominant political rhetoric and the activities of a narrow group of political and social elites. What is more, it argues that new 'alternative' media does not necessarily challenge these practices and may indeed exacerbate the individualisation and privatisation of public deliberation, fragmenting any unifying 'global moral order'. I present the argument that this misapprehension of developments in news practices highlights the difficulties the concept of global civil society has with taking account of the power relations of actually existing democracy and I also challenge the broader appeal to a global 'space' of politics in such circumstances.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


global civil society; global media; global news; global public sphere

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 August 2010

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 13:42

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2022 22:04


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