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Theoretical Perspectives Systemic and comparative approaches of Media Accountability By Olivier Baisnée & Sandra Vera Zambrano Session 4 Photo: imago/ecomedia/robert.

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Presentation on theme: "Theoretical Perspectives Systemic and comparative approaches of Media Accountability By Olivier Baisnée & Sandra Vera Zambrano Session 4 Photo: imago/ecomedia/robert."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theoretical Perspectives Systemic and comparative approaches of Media Accountability By Olivier Baisnée & Sandra Vera Zambrano Session 4 Photo: imago/ecomedia/robert fishman

2 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives2 Theoretical Perspectives: - Why are theoretical considerations important? - Foreword: Understanding the systemic approach of the media - Hallin and Mancini‘s model beyond their 3 « best-known » models: research questions, hypothesis and conclusions - Going further: Pierre Bourdieu‘s field theory on media systems and on Media Accountability

3 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives3 Why are theoretical considerations important? We all regard the world from a certain point of view. That point of view is partly determined by certain social and demographic characteristics (age, gender, income, level of studies, social position...) and partly by a system of representations, whether they are conscious or not: Theories describe reality, shaping it from an organised, categorised, reflexif point of view. In this case, we will focus on three specific perspectives or points of view on the media. Our aim is to show how these different theorical models enrich each other to get a more global explanation of a simple, yet deep question: Why are media systems the way they are, and why are they different from each other?

4 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives4 Systemic theory in sociology “It is called systematic sociology because it does not deal with these factors of the living together of man in a haphazard way but in a systematic order, following the line from the simplest to the most complex and settled forms of integration - from transitory contacts up to the frame-group.” (Mannheim) “Systematic theory is defined as a body of logically interdependent generalized concepts (or propositions) of empirical reference” (Parsons) Sources: & Young Sociologist

5 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives5 Systemic approach of the media McQuail (2000) has described the media system as “the actual set of mass media in a given national society”, characterized by such main dimensions as scale and centralization, degree of politicization, diversity profile, sources of finance, and degree of public regulation and control. Sources:

6 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives6 Systemic and comparative approach of the media: Four theories of the press by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm (1956): “The question behind this book is, why is the press as it is? Why does it apparently serve different purposes and appear in widely different forms in different countries? Why, for example, is the press of the Soviet Union so different from our own, and the press of Argentina, so different from that of Great Britain?” Sources:; Uni Bayreuth;

7 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives7 Why is the comparative perspective useful to a systemic approach? According to Hallin and Mancini: “Why is the press as it is?’ We must turn to comparative analysis. The role of comparative analysis in social theory can be understood in terms of two basic functions: its role in concept formation and clarification and its role in causal inference. Comparative analysis is valuable in social investigation, in the first place because it sensitizes us to variation and to similarity, and this can contribute powerfully to concept formation and to the refinement of our conceptual apparatus.“

8 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives8 Why is the comparative perspective useful to a systemic approach (2)? As Blumler and Gurevitch (1975) say, comparison has the “capacity to render the invisible visible,” to draw our attention to aspects of any media system, including our own, that “may be taken for granted and difficult to detect when the focus is on only one national case. […] If comparison can sensitize us to variation, it can also sensitize us to similarity, and that too can force us to think more clearly about how we might explain media systems” Sources:

9 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives9 Hallin and Mancini‘s Comparing Media Systems beyond their three models “The main goal of the research was to propose an interpretative framework for comparing systems of the relationship between the mass media and politics, not to label particular systems in different parts of the world.” “Our study, as mentioned previously, is an exploratory one, and the main purpose of the ‘most similar systems’ design is not to hold certain variables constant for purposes of demonstrating causality, but to permit careful development of concepts that can be used for further comparative analysis, as well as hypotheses about their interrelations” “We will argue that one cannot understand the news media without understanding the nature of the state, the system of political parties, the pattern of relations between economic and political interests, and the development of civil society, among other elements of social structure”. Main hypotheses: “Press always takes the form and coloration of the social and political structures within which it operates. In other words, it reflects the system of social control whereby the relations of individuals are adjusted (…) the aim is to show how different media models are rooted in broader differences of political and economical structure”.

10 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives10 Hallin and Mancini‘s Comparing media systems beyond their three models (4) Their conceptual framework is made out of 4 categories: Ideas of professionalism Media market Relationship to politics Role of the state in the media Adapted from Hallin & Mancini (2004)

11 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives11 Going further: contributions from Bourdieu’s Field theory Field theory The concept of field describes a (relatively) autonomous and structured social space, where agents evolve and fight over the legitimate definition of their activity (be it art, science or journalism) according to their resources (different forms of capital). (Benson, 1999, 464). In addition, the journalistic field has to be understood as part of the larger field of cultural production (at its largest-scale production pole) which is itself part of the field of power. Questions posed by Field theory (next slide): Sources:

12 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives12 - The question of autonomy of the field from the political and economic fields all the more crucial to understand what happens in the journalistic profession. - The question of ethics and deontology are excellent indicators of the changes the profession is undergoing in various contexts and with varying historical trajectories. As Champagne puts it: “Journalists are structurally condemned to produce – variably, depending on the period and outlet – under political and/or economic constraints. If, now as ever, the purely moral barriers some try to erect are almost necessarily destined to fail in view of the strength of the external constraints on journalism and the weakness of the profession’s will to effectively impose such codes on itself, the ethic codes and journalistic charters remain of interest in how they draw up the list of obstacles typically faced by the news professions” (Champagne 2005: 50)

13 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives13 Field theory’s contribution to Media Accountability Research - Media Accountability Instruments and practices can be understood as indicators of the main forces weighing on the journalistic profession in each national context. -It enables journalism to be analyzed as a structured environment where hierarchies exist, where some actors are more legitimate than others (and thus can impose their views about what is the legitimate professional model: what journalism is or should be about), and where struggles are at the heart of the history of the field (over the legitimate professional model: commercial vs. professional or intellectual model for example). Sources:

14 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives14 - It is a multi-scale framework of analysis: it links the micro-level (what an individual journalist or a given media does or fights for), the meso-level (the journalistic field at large) and the macro-level (a given society with its set of norms, values etc.). - It also enables the complex interplay between different fields to be depicted through the dynamics of heteronomous as opposed to autonomous forces. Thus, it also enables practices and instruments of accountability to be differentiated according to what they rely on: (1) autonomous pole: the profession should organize itself to preserve high quality in the news (codes of ethics, press councils, etc.); (2) heteronomous pole: the state has to intervene to set or promote or defend professional standards; (3) commercial pole: good journalism is journalism that maximizes audiences and profits, etc.

15 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives15 Too much information? Just keep this in mind:  Linking the micro-level (media, individual journalist) to the meso- level (the journalistic field)  Journalistic field is a structured environment (dominants/dominated)  Journalistic field is a field of struggles where actors compete according to the volume and the structure of their capitals  The main principle of structuration relies on the definition of the good/legitimate journalism  Self-regulation = at the heart of field theory studies on journalism: struggles over legitimate professional models = the history of all journalistic fields

16 July 2013Session 4 - Theoretical Perspectives16 References Benson, R. and E. Neveu (eds) Bourdieu and the journalistic field Cambridge: Polity Press. Bourdieu, P “The political field, the social science field, and the joumalistic field”. In Bourdieu and the joumalistic field, edited by Benson, R. and E. Neveu. Cambridge : Polity, Cardoso, G The Media in the Network Society: Browsing, News, Filtersand Citizenship. Lisbon: Centre for Research and Studies in Soci ology. Dobek-Ostrowska, B, M. Glowacki et al Comparative media systems: European and global perspectives, Budapest: Central European University Press. Hallin, D. and P. Mancini Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Manheim, K. et al Systematic sociology: an introduction to the study of society, New York : Grove Press. McQuail, D McQuail's Mass Communication Theory. London: SagePublications. Parsons, T “The present position and prospects of systematic theory in Sociology.” In Twentieth Century Sociology, edited by Gurvitch, G. and Moore W. E. New York: Philosophical Library. Siebert, F.S., T. Peterson and W. Schramm Four Theories of the Press.Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

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