Maximiliano Facundo Vila Seoane
- CV and Downloads
- Science policy
- Social and cultural change and adaption
2008-2012 Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (Argentina)
Master in Science, Technology and Innovation Management. National University of General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Diploma in Local Development and Social Economy, FLACSO, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Bachelor in Physical Science, University of Buenos Aires.
Beyond profits? An inquiry about media for social transformation in Argentina and Brazil
Thirty years after the return to democracy, Argentina and Brazil are still facing challenges to democratize communications. In both countries, a commercial approach to culture and communications prevails, with high rates of ownership concentration in few private firms, irrespective of the negative consequences this has for the existence of a diversity of media voices, particularly from underrepresented groups. Nevertheless, since the arrival to power of left wing governments in 2003, both countries have been experiencing changes that question this situation; for example, Argentina introduced a new audiovisual communication services law in 2009 regulating the radio spectrum and stimulating NGO media; whereas Brazil has been funding through cultural policies different cultural and free media networks. Yet, research has paid little attention to the processes of emergence of these media projects that try to depart from a for-profit culture and communication model in non-Western countries. In this context, this work offers a conceptual framework to understand the key dimensions that shape how nongovernmental audiovisual media projects striving for social transformation challenge a predominant commercial approach to culture and communication.
The conceptual framework divides the analysis in three levels: media system, policy discourses and the specific media cases under analysis. The first one considers the historical changes in the structure and actors of the media system in both countries, which help to comprehend the contemporary problems of ownership concentration and the most important actors. The second level examines the main and counter policy discourses in competition to change the existing media system, while the third level focuses on key dimensions that have been shaping (both enabling and restricting) the projects of new media experiences in both countries. In particular, it takes into account the important role of the specific discourses that these experiences create to challenge a for-profit communication model, which introduce context specific interpretation schemes and visions on how communications, culture, and more generally society, ought to be. Apart from the discursive dimension, the third level considers the potentials and limits that technologies put on new projects, together with the ‘soft’ constraints that quality patterns have in new media cases. Furthermore, the framework considers different types of violence from incumbents that the cases have to withstand, which is a relevant dimension to understand why these cases do not spur as fast as expected. Additionally, the conceptual framework proposes ways to study participation and the reception of content by audiences. Finally yet importantly, the conceptual framework incorporates a resource view of power to research about the different strategies for acquiring and mobilizing resources that media projects employ to keep in operation.
This conceptual framework builds on empirical data gathered in Argentina and Brazil covering both levels of interest. On the one hand, interviews with ex and contemporary policy makers span the policy discourse level, plus the analysis of policy documents and other sources. On the other hand, the empirical data of the four selected case studies was collected mixing both participant observation and the material generated by and about each experience. In particular, in Argentina the thesis considers the first co-operative channel and the first Mapuche indigenous community channel under the new audiovisual communication services law. Moreover, the research covers a preexisting ‘alternative media’ channel operating in a factory recovered by its workers, which after the law was passed, was legalized. As regards Brazil, the thesis builds the argument on the experience of a media collective, Mídia NINJA, which represents practices of the ‘collaborative economy’ advanced by a network of cultural agents operating across the country.
In sum, this work makes empirical and theoretical contributions, stressing the importance of communication to the aims of the international ‘development’ agenda, and its importance to open up spaces for different visions and perspectives. This is not only academically relevant, but also practically for Argentina, Brazil, and other Latin American countries that are experiencing similar media change processes.