The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Media and cultural aspects of civil society

Zrinjka Peruško (University of Zagreb)
Media and Civil Society in Central and Eastern European Democratic Transitions

Civil society was posited as the "habitat" for the newly independent media, especially in the early years of the 1990's transitions in Central and Eastern Europe. The media were also seen as vehicles for the development of civil society, which was often seen as the realm of freedom in opposition to the state control of pre-transition years. Trends of media development which are characterized by vertical and horizontal concentration, as well as global and transnational concentration of media conglomerates, however, are questioning this view. Pluralism in the media field, which is by definition linked to the concept of a pluralist civil society, is at threat from these trends.

This paper wishes to re-conceptualize the media and civil society relationship in Central and Eastern European new democracies. It will look for evidence for the existence of civil society, and will attempt to map its development across the "new" Europe. Is the contribution of the media actually positive and enabling for the development of civil society, or is the corporate and profit motive predominating? Is globalization producing one vast and centralized media empire, or is there an emerging global civil society, created by the networks of communication (and technology)? What is the position of new democracies in these two scenarios?