Distinguished Lecture by Professor Sabina Mihelj

29 May 2019 at 11:15-13:00 in room B115, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala

From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding State Socialist Television

Abstract

In this talk, based on the recently completed research project “Screening Socialism” and the monograph “From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding Socialist Television”, Sabina Mihelj delves into the fascinating world of television under communism, using it to test a new framework for comparative media analysis. To understand the societal consequences of mass communication, she argues that we need to move beyond the analysis of media systems, and instead focus on the role of the media in shaping cultural ideals and narratives, everyday practices, and routines.

Drawing on a wealth of original data derived from archival sources, programme and schedule analysis, and oral history interviews in five countries – East Germany, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia – Mihelj shows how communist authorities managed to harness the power of television to shape new habits and rituals, yet failed to inspire a deeper belief in communist ideals. The analysis she presents has important implications for the understanding of mediated communication in both democratic and non-democratic settings, and provides tools for the analysis of media cultures globally. In the concluding part of the talk, she briefly reflects on how the approach to comparing media cultures developed in the book can be adapted to examine contemporary digital or ‘hybrid’ media cultures.

Biography

Sabina Mihelj is professor of Media and Cultural Analysis at the School of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, UK. She is the author of Media Nations: Communicating Belonging and Exclusion in the Modern World (Palgrave, 2011), Central and Eastern European Media in Comparative Perspective: Politics, Economy, Culture (Ashgate, 2012, with J. Downey) and From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding State Socialist Television (with S. Huxtable, Cambridge University Press, 2018). She published widely on mass communication and cultural identity, comparative media research, and Cold War media and culture. Her new project, conducted with her Loughborough colleague Václav Štětka, examines the role of the media in the rise of illiberalism in Central and Eastern Europe (ESRC, 2019-2021).

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