The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Media and cultural aspects of civil society

Nada Zgrablji (Croatian Radio, Zagreb)
Dialogue - Communication Interaction as Ethical Imperative of the Policy of Civil Society

Dialogue and free speech within different social discourses, achieved in the sphere of media communication, are fundamental principles for the creation of civil society in a democratic environment. Civil societies achieve their self-formation through dialogue in the sphere of politics, as well as in sub-political, cultural, scientific and other areas. This is the key element of any "strong democracy" (Barber, 1988) and a way for strengthening the citizen's will. The role of the mass media, which has to provide a forum for the exchange of public dialogue, is crucial in this process. But commercialization of the media and journalistic discourse more often then not introduces conversation as an alternative to dialogue. Conversation is a question of socialness, and not a question of conflict resolution or achievement of some other goal (Schudson, 1997), it does not open the door to "discomfort", it does not look for nor does it offer alternative solutions and new possibilities for the choice of social surrounding.

This contribution is based on the (unpublished) research results of a study of dialogue conducted at the public radio in Croatia in 1998. The one dimensional structure of the state/public radio points to the disturbed communication with a very symbolic level of representation of civil society, particularly in the segments of the program dealing with politics. This applies for the period close to the end of Tudman's rule. According to Foucault's thesis (1976) that every society advocates for dialogue only on a declarative level, in fact it tries to use all possible mechanisms to limit it as the force of dialogue which might be dangerous and is not easy to control, thus media remains one of the most important mechanisms to achieve that type of control.