The research Project Mediatized Publics and Problems: Emotions and Participation aims to analyze the impact of cultural and informative mediatization processes on the formation and development of participative publics, as well as the relationship of these publics with audiences and the media.
This project follows the perspective of the sociology of public problems, which asserts that an issue becomes a public problem whenever a collectivity feels affected by it and claims for solutions. When a public problem emerges, an ensemble of actors might articulate and self-perceive as a participative public which unfolds a shared public experience through actions and discourses that aims to formulate or express the problem and place it in the public sphere. The project will therefore explore which aspects of mediatization might condition and block these modes of democratic participation in the deliberation and search for solutions regarding public problems.
In the current mediatization context, journalistic media are considered important actors as media logics format the discourses that access the public sphere. Today, journalism share this mediating function with social media and other culture-makers. Participative publics inquire and experiment to adapt their ways of doing and communicating to these logics in order to achieve a greater success by linking broad audiences and actors with decision-making power.
A central element for capturing the attention of audiences is the management of affective repertoires. The effectiveness and success of the participative publics interventions partly depend on their ability to translate and adapt the emotions they experience to the affective dispositions that prevail in public discourse and, in that way, conveying them to other actors and audiences.
The project will develop through the ethnographic monitoring of three case studies: depopulation, afro-descendant cultures and gender inequality in the music industry. The common ground between these three problems is the mobilization of subaltern collectives. By bringing forward values and affects connected to the common good, these collectives participate in the public sphere in order to claim for non-discrimination and equal participation.
On a methodological level, the project combines pragmatist-inspired content analysis with ethnography. The focus of research is mainly qualitative, although a qualitative focus will be adopted through techniques such as Social Network Analysis and content analysis, which are best suited to the exploration of and approach to empirical materials.
The follow-up of public problems will take place throughout the 3-year duration of the Project. Entrance to the filed will happen secuentially through the following of controversies around issues. This procedure allows the observation of continuities and changes in the development of the problems and in the activities of the publics. A final comparison between the dynamics of the three problems will help determine the factors that boost or slow the appearance and development of participative publics. Complementarily, an ethnography on the journalistic media CTXT (www.ctxt.es) will be carried out in order to understand its editorial approach to these three problems.
Furthermore, this ethnography will shed light on the role of media in the deliberation of public problems, as well as their shaping by media logics.