Mediating the nation : news, audiences and identities in contemporary Greece
This thesis investigates the relationship between media and identities in contemporary Greece. Acknowledging the diversity of Greek society, the study follows the circulation of discourses about the nation and belonging and contrasts the articulation of identities at a local level with the discourses about the nation in the national media. Through a series of case studies I examine how people of Greek, Cypriot and Turkish origins living in Athens articulate their identities through everyday practices and media use. At the same time I investigate the television news discourse which is nationalized, largely projecting an essentialist representation of identity that does not reflect the complexity of the society it claims to describe. The study follows the shifts in peoples' discourses according to context and observes that it is in their encounters with the news media, compared to other contexts, that some of the informants express a more closed discourse about difference and belonging. This points to the power of the media, through a number of practices, to raise the boundaries for inclusion and exclusion in public life. Hence, while for the majority of the Greek speakers the news is a common point of reference, for the Turkish speakers it is often a reminder of their `second class citizenship' and exclusion from public life. Public discourse, much dominated by the media in the case of Greece, is a complex web of power relations, subject to constant negotiation. This is an interdisciplinary study that draws upon a number of theories and approaches by means' of a theoretical and methodological triangulation. The thesis aims to contribute primarily to two literatures, namely media and audience studies —particularly the developments towards a theory of mediation — and the literature that addresses the relationship between media and identity. In the light of the analysis of the empirical findings the study argues that neither of the hitherto dominant paradigms in theorising the relationship between media and identity (namely, strong media/weak identities and weak media/powerful identities) is adequate to describe what emerges as a multifaceted process. What is proposed is an approach that takes into account both a top-down and a bottom-up perspective. Media and identities should be understood in a dialectical fashion where neither is foregrounded from the start. The concepts of culture and the nation are understood through a historical perspective that recognises their constructedness and diversity. Identity is conceptualised as relational and performative rather than fixed and stable.