CISECO - Centro Internacional de Semiótica e Comunicação

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Thematic Proposal - English version

Pentálogo IX

September 24-28, 2018

Mediatization and the reconfigurations of representative democracy

 

Abstract:

During the first decades of the 21st century, an intense process of mediatization were observed, reconfiguring the functioning of social practices in the representative democracy context. At first, such changes were characterized by the increasing Internet usage and other forms of direct contact between governments and societies. In a second moment though, it was pointed out that consequences on the broader social ambience are generated by new communication processes that permeate the social structure and social practices. It's not about abstract affections, but media operations and logics affecting the operation system of institutions (of many different areas, such as education religion, scientific, politic, sportive, etc.). And it does that by making its mediating instances disappear or by reformulating it, changing the way that the institutions offer and transfer knowledge. Operations of mediatization under these different practices are manifested by a diversity of strategies and increased by complex feedbacks. This problematic will be report and exposed during the Pentálogo IX.

 

Objectives

General

To deepen the comprehension about mediatization affectation on diverse social practices in the context of representative democracy, having as reference different socio-communication scenarios.

Specifics

To examine interpenetrations of diverse social practices through operations of mediatization, which affect systematically the social organization and its decision processes;

To describe strategies put into operation by the alliance between "old and new media" aiming to elect operations of communication as inputs of the organizing processes of symbolic management, in a society in process of mediatization;

To analyze the transformation process of old mediating structures giving place to new reference devices in the transfer and offering of knowledge. In particular, its effects on "canonical" social practices in areas such as: politics, education, science, associativity and others related to the "strategies of demands" that society delegate to the established institutions.

 

Justifications

Throughout its existence, CISECO has sought to perform in the northeastern region of Brazil, the debate and studies of topics involving the articulations of socio-semiotic problems and that with direct relation with the universe of Communication through its forum of annual meetings. Especially the settings and effects of the mediatization affections on the functioning of social practices and their effects on the reconfiguration of representative democracy. In the context of Pentálogo IX, it is intended to go beyond the results of the inaugural Pentálogo, in 2009, when it was found that the exercise of the presidential function was already in profound change associated with the new communication technologies, driven by Internet. It is intended, through the reports of researchers from various national and international academic and research contexts, to examine the advances of these activities. Above all, through the search and evaluation of methodological processes that help to understand the complexification of relationships between mediatization and diverse social practices, in terms of communication actions and their production of meaning. The potential horizon of these activities can be viewed in the event program, which points out topics to be treated. Also, points out the profiles of exhibitors, whose references attest to the quality of the discussions to be waged involving researchers, specialists, teachers and professionals from different areas of knowledge, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. There is also a strong impact of this event on the institutions closest to the realization of Pentálogo, such as universities, research institutions, scientific societies, representative entities and specialized forums.

 

After almost ten years of the CISECO creation, the theme of the IX Pentalogo seeks to deepen the affectations of mediatization on diverse social practices, in the context of the representative democracy. The present proposal intends to examine the incidences of mediatization on configurations of 'representative democracy' in the current context of 'platform capitalism', taking into account phenomena that already appeared in the first decade of the 2000s, as a consequence of the emergence of a 'communicational architecture' whose logic and functioning operations already produced interactions (many of them unprecedented) between the diverse social practices.

At the Inaugural Pentalogo in 2009, themed with 'Transformations of presidential mediatization: bodies, reports, negotiations, resistances', the exercise of the presidential function in democratic regimes was already in profound change, associated with the increasing weight of the internet and forms of direct contact between governments and society, after the emerging protocols of mediatization.

Then, the implications of these new articulations appeared, especially in Umberto Eco's¹  speech, which linked the role of image construction to the political life with 'the end of the representative democracy'. In just two or three decades the implications of these transformations were accentuated but, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the 'mass media' emerged as vectors of the political mediation, particularly in the context of the 'media society', which saw itself as 'indispensable intermediaries of social management'² . In the progression to the period of 'in-process of mediatization society', this condition becomes more complex, as cultures and media logic magnify their presences in social practices, generating consequences on the wider social ambiance.

Mediatization is not about the reissuing of old causality paradigms that guided opinion polls about electoral preferences among the audiences. At this point, there are practices interpenetrations from various systems involving digital media companies, financiers, research, academic institutions, and political parties. The most current reference has to do with accessing and manipulating data from Facebook accounts, and their transformation into messages to several sectors of a new political-electoral market in the North American scenario, according to different appeals. This is not an abstract interference of the digital technologies within the scope of politics since institutions of different natures occupy themselves with them to organize and regulate decisions and choices of diverse markets, according to algorithmic logic.

These transformations also concern a broader systemic and organizational activity, in which the promotion of alliances between 'old and new media' occurs, while complex operators that articulate discursive strategies that are enunciated in real time offer meanings around themes such as the impeachment of the president and the conviction of the ex-president, within the Brazilian context. The media accentuate their role as reconfiguring broader agendas that involve their relationship with politics. Television, through a national campaign, seeks to collect opinions of individuals on national issues and the treatment of these contents may have generated a possible dossier to guide the actions of the future elected president3 .

The 'access revolution' provoked by the internet changes the communication paradigm, specifically, the relations between individuals, between them and the institutions, and the forms of knowledge. The 'do-it-yourself' appeal modifies the research and consultation cultures by discouraging mediations based on the 'do-it-together' approach.

One of the possible effects of the appearance of this phenomenon - also named as 'data religion'4 - is the weakening of the direct contact between institutions and their specialists and the 'ordinary man' inhibiting demands since there is nowhere to address them. In addition to impersonality, disbelief, weakness, and disenchantment with current (and emerging) institutional practices are also a result.

This condition of 'helplessness' provoked by the disinvestment in mediations paradoxically causes a strange appearance of new forms of mediators. The new communicational architecture of networks allows anyone to invest in this condition in areas still strongly marked by institutional rituals, such as the health field.

Mediational activities, which rested on the frontiers of specific systems, are dynamized via links of interpenetrations between different systems through discursive operations carried out by the linkage of their narratives (judicial, police, media). They contact each other, co-determinate, expand and re-feed themselves, like the 'Lava Jato' methodologies.

Bargainings involving actors from the educational field go to the sphere of justice, looking for other arbitrations. But, before that, they enter the social networks circuit, whose court and judgment effects are more effective from the point of view of publicizing issues that are the subject of causes and complaints.

Circuits between politics and society are interrupted through social actors 'surveillance devices' that prevent manifestations of political actors. They also create 'self-communication' circuits that dissolve the enunciation of institutional spokespersons.

CISECO cannot fail to recognize the phenomenon of Fake News, questioning what it has to do with mediatization and the effects it has on representative democracy. Manifestations of 'false news' reveal clues to several issues that are of concern to our debates, particularly those related to the central theme of this Pentalogo. We have seen that the effects of the new communicational 'architecture' draw attention to the expansion and promotion of techno-media operations, and many of them pass within institutional systems. But we must emphasize that other tensions move around this logic, pointing out that the interactional processes operate in divergence and in disarticulation with systemic logic, therefore, away from equilibrium dynamics.

When we examine the false news mediatization, we must consider the complex conditions of its enunciation and its meanings circulation. Its existence is metaphorically associated with the notion of a virus, externalizing itself as discourses that suggest 'war' and attack via 'medicines' that may refrain its expansionist and lethal actions. Therapeutic promises of the new 'communication contracts' - 'free access, free flow, maximum transparency' - formulated according to network logic offers, which when not fulfilled can generate, as a response, inevitable circuit closures through the mediation of several social discourses that express meanings of regulatory pretensions (legislation, supervision, etc.), but debatable positive effects in terms of combat. False news is a kind of 'cursed leftovers' from circuits of in-process mediatization which, instead of accentuating social uniformity, leads us to significant functions increasingly complex as the Veronian work suggests. The production of meanings takes place around bundles of relations between niches of production and reception of discourses according to non-deterministic conditions. And fake news materializes themselves according to acts of enunciation that draw attention to the conditions of its circulation that become increasingly equidistant from the notions of equilibrium and convergence.

The proposal presented here, according to the questions that will guide the discussions of this Pentalogo, aims to emphasize processes and operations that alternate between connections, articulation and expansion, and, at the same time, the shrinking and retractions of socio-communicational circuits, within semiosis. The emphasis on the divergence resulting from this articulation was one of the central characteristics of the operation of mediatization in the reconfiguration scenarios of representative democracy.

CISECO considers that, besides these propositional reflections, some proposals, like the ones that follow, also serve as guiding justifications for the IX Pentalogo realization:

a) The work of mediatization goes beyond a deterministic dimension, drawing attention to the socio-communicational diversity that manifests itself around complex and non-linear feedbacks. It means that interactional processes involve relational movements that go beyond the logic of media offerings, also considering those that emanate from institutions of various natures;

b) It is needed a study about the dynamics of mediatization involving the reconfigurations of the representative democracy because important tensions and contradictions characterize the articulations between media and non-media phenomena.

c) We must seek new methodological paths to increase the processes through which social systems and individual partners appropriate themselves of media phenomena to ensure their own self-organizing activities. And, especially, given the complexity of the theme and object of this Pentalogo, we must 'focus our efforts on understanding rules that shape the multiple strategies activated by socio-individual systems (individuals) to cope with an increasing media environment' 5.


[1]Full interview in: FAUSTO NETO, Antonio; MOUCHON, Jean; VERÓN, Eliseo (orgs). Transformações da Midiatização Presidencial: corpos, relatos, negociações, resistências. São Caetano do Sul: Difusão Editora, 2012.

[2] VERÓN, Eliseo. Fragmentos de um tecido. São Leopoldo: Unisinos, 2004. p.278

[3]See Globo's "The Brazil I Want for the Future" campaign. Available at g1.com.br

[4] HARARI, Yuval Noah. Homo Deus: Uma breve história do amanhã. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2016.

[5]VERÓN, Eliseo. Teoria de la mediatización: una perspectiva semio-antropológica. In: CIC Cuadernos e Información y Comunicación, 2015, vo

l.20, p.173-182. p..181

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