CEU Summer University - Media, Democratization and Civil Society

Academic Program: CEU Summer University 2008

Course Directors:
Monroe Price
Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, US / Center for Media and Communication Studies (CMCS) at SPP of CEU, Budapest, Hungary


Miklos Sukosd
Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Course Coordinator:
Laura Ranca
Center for Media and Communication Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary


The demand for accountability, transparency and democracy resonates in many corners of the world. Media and civil society constitute core elements of societies which are grounded on such principles. However, lack of media pluralism and a dominant position by either state or private media can have adverse effects and have been criticized by civil society groups. The increasing commercialization and dominant position of global media institutions have given rise to new forms of resistance, which may take the form of grassroots media-making, transnational broadcasting, and institutional and regulatory responses. Thus, there is a complex relationship between media, democracy and civil society responses that exists across national boundaries.

Examining this interconnection between media, democratization and civil society will be the main purpose of this course. It will focus on the Central/Eastern European region, but will also be relevant in other contexts where media and civil society have played crucial roles in processes of democratization but where the deficiencies and shortcomings are also clearly visible. This course will examine the role of non-governmental organizations and individuals in the process of democracy building and sustainability, and address the complex negotiation around media privatization and liberalization. In doing so, this course will consider what kind of enabling environment is necessary for a diverse and pluralistic media, and what is the role and potential for civil society intervention in the development of such an environment. The course will provide an introduction to a range of research agendas and methodologies applicable to the study of media systems and civil society in the context of post-communist/post-conflict transformation, and political/social/economic change.

The Civil Society Yearbook 2007 will, for the first time, focus on the connections between media and civil society, while the European media research network "COST A30: East of West" is developing new approaches to understand the role of media in transitional and post-transitional contexts. The course will be embedded in these current discourses, and students will benefit from insights into current research on these issues.

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