The media, resistance and civil society
The relationship between the media and social/political mobilisation is a specifically modem phenomenon, contemporaneous with and responding to dominant capitalist communications. Today the trend towards concentration marches forth, policies of privatisation and deregulation of the media reveal a world-wide trend towards the commodification of information, culture and hence, of democracy. We are witnessing the privatisation of access to information and culture with the shrinking of public space in communications. My research begins from the standpoint that we can not ignore that we still live in deeply unequal capitalist societies, driven by profit and competition operating on a global scale. It is also undeniable that we live in a media dominated world with many different ideas and identities in circulation at any one time. We need to understand the former to appreciate the latter - the relation between individual autonomy, freedom and rational action on the one hand and the social construction of identity and behaviour on the other. The mainstream media as part of the political and economic infrastructure of society both disguise inequalities and frustrate any attempts to contest or reveal them. As a consequence dissident or oppressed groups have had to seek alternative means to be heard and to mobilise. These means include both organisation (investigated here in the form of the voluntary sector) and communication (including mainstream and 'alternative' media) within civil society. My research investigates why it is felt there is an ever pressing need to present oppositional views, how strategies of organisation and communication have been deployed and with what success. This research examines the relationship between the media and resistance - either as a dominant social force which through uniformity of representation encourages digression, or as a means of forging other identities and developing alternative political projects.