Linus Andersson
Baltic and East European Graduate School,
Södertörn University College,
Stockholm, Sweden

Alternative Media/Alternative Public Spheres

A recurring theory when describing the relationship between the media and cultural and political life is the concept of a public sphere, as presented by Jürgen Habermas. Within the field of media studies the (in)ability of the mass media to constitute the platform for such a public sphere have been up for discussion for years. Part of the discussion of this publicness is the direction of attention to alternative public spheres, as found in the works of for instance Oskar Negt & Alexander Kluge, Nancy Fraser, etc. They point to spheres outside of the (dominant) bourgeois public sphere. Among the concepts that try to mark these phenomena we find terms like "alternative public spheres", "proletarian public spheres" and "counterpublics".

In recent years the scholarly interest for alternative media has grown. This interest could be explained perhaps partly due to technological innovations such as the expansion of Internet access, but also through a growing global political awareness/concern manifested through the formation of new protest movements and globalisation of social activism. The academic attention have this far been to a large extent concentrated on the empirical developments while the theoretical development has lagged behind.

This paper seeks out to investigate the theoretical concepts of alternative/counter/ proletarian public spheres and to see how these concepts (that were primarily presented and used in the 1960/1970's) are still accurate when it comes to describe/analyse contemporary alternative media. The ambition is to develop a theoretical framework grounded in critical theory for analysing the media activism and alternative media production that has become an integral part of contemporary new social movements.

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Peace Institute Slovenian Communication Association Dep't of Media Studies