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Article

"Игрушко митингуэ": в поисках теории медиатизации гражданского протеста

The article reviews a range of theories that allow to describe and explain the phenomenon of protest movement mediatization. These theories’ potential is revealed through analysis of a particular empirical case, “nanodemonstrations” in Barnaul that have been added to the repertoire of the Russian protest movement in winter 2011-2012. The article shows how nanodemonstrations can be interpreted in terms of a “media-event” (J.Fiske), a “cultural performance” (J.Alexander), and a “network” (M.Castells, B.Latour), as well as the interplay between these approaches. The author comes to a conclusion that “toy protests” can be viewed as simulacral media-events — mediatized social performances, repeatedly reproduced both in real urban space and in virtual space of mediacommunications. The toys in this case exemplify Latour’s “actants” facilitating not only the very opportunity to register protest, but also the media response. Nanodemonstrations’ going viral became possible thanks to the global media-network, in particular, to the Russian social networking service VKontakte. Besides, toy protest (as well as the all-Russia movement “For fair elections” in general) had a networking nature not only in the technological sense, but also in that it had no centralized structure: networks of protest are rhizomatic like the virtual space of the Internet as a whole.

The article pays special attention to interdisciplinary theories that have developed at the intersection of media studies and social movement studies (A.Mattony, B.Cammaerts). These approaches allow analyzing protests in terms of communication opportunities and restrictions existing for the actors involved. Contemporary social movement activists are “advanced” users of media technologies, since the success of a protest action (that is, social response to it) is directly connected to the possibility of including the protesters’ demands into the public agenda. This is one of the characteristic manifestations of protest movement mediatization, which is in its turn rooted in a more fundamental process of mediatization of society as a whole. This is why almost any research of contemporary protests nowadays necessarily becomes a variation of “mediatization research”.