Tracking the Civic Subject in the Media Landscape: Versions of the Democratic Ideal

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Research on media and democracy mobilizes a range of conceptual versions of the subject. This is often done implicitly, or out of habit, with a specific model becoming established in any given research tradition. This presentation argues that different theories of the subject can have different implications for our understanding of citizenship and democracy. The text surveys a number of versions, deriving from a large and heterogeneous literature, and organizes them under the themes of rationalism, reflexivity, transparency, and contingency. No one version is offered as the ultimate one, since all have something to offer and at the same time have their limitations. However, it is suggested that greater awareness should be put on how we conceptualize the civic subject in our research, no least in regard to issues having to do with affect, the limits of reflexivity and self-transparency, the role of the unconscious, and the importance of contingency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-88
JournalTelevision & New Media
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Media and Communications


  • civic subject
  • theories of subject
  • theories of self
  • media
  • democracy


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