Post-Democracy and the Media

Welcome to an international seminar that focuses on post-democratic tendencies in politics and in the media!

Date: Friday, 17 February 2017

Time: 10:00 – 15:00

Venue: University of Helsinki/Main Building, Small Hall (Pieni juhlasali), Fabianinkatu 33, 4th floor.

Registration by 10 February: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/76171/lomake.html

Ever since the birth of liberal democracies, the relationship between capitalism and democracy has hung in the balance. Today, in the absence of broad coalitions against the decades-long enforcement of market rationality in all social spheres and with a shift of power to democratically unaccountable economic institutions and regulatory authorities, citizens increasingly feel powerless to have any meaningful influence in politics. Regardless of electoral outcomes, unpopular austerity policies continue unabated – necessitating further cuts in social services and public spending in the name of restoring business confidence. Consequently, many symptoms of political disorder have appeared, ranging from citizen disengagement from conventional politics to the withdrawal of privileged elites and the super-rich from supporting the welfare state to the emerging coalition between anti-political populism and technocratic forms of governance.

This seminar will ask if we have moved into a “post-democracy” in which the formal structures of democracy remain in place but are emptied of substance that gives them legitimacy. Following this, the seminar will examine the role of the media at this juncture. Has the media become an arena for post-democratic “politainment” that avoids serious discussions concerning the economic and social consequences of neoliberal policies? Furthermore, what does the crisis of democratic capitalism mean in terms of such long-cherished liberal notions as the public sphere? If democratic deliberation has very limited political impact on economic policy-making in particular, can we still speak about a democratic public sphere – or is it, instead, in danger of becoming a vehicle for strategic communication and affirmations that serve the interests of wealth and power?

Speakers: Wolfgang Streeck (Emeritus Director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne), Natalie Fenton (Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London), and Anu Koivunen (Professor in Cinema Studies, Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University)


9:30 Coffee

10:00 Welcome: professor Hannu Nieminen; Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences

10:15 Capitalist Democracy: Global Governance and National Populism, professor emeritus Wolfgang Streeck

11:05 Comments: professor Teivo Teivainen / Discussion

11:30 Lunch

12:30 Fake Democracy, Bad News, professor Natalie Fenton

13:15 Comments: senior lecturer Marko Ampuja / Discussion.

13:40 Beyond National Public Spheres? Media Policies and the Future Conditions of Democracy, professor Anu Koivunen

14:25 Comments: Senior Lecturer Johanna Jääsaari / Discussion

The participation in the seminar is free of charge. Please sign up through the link for the coffee and tea service by February 10.

Registration by 10 February: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/76171/lomake.html

The seminar is organized jointly by the Master’s Programme in Media and Global Communication and the discipline of Political Science at the University of Helsinki.


Pic by David Drexler (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons