by Janne Suutarinen & Olga Dovbysh
Young scholars and early career researchers have less opportunities than more experienced ones to talk about their research to general public. Our blog aims to improve this inequality: today we present new format “Interview with young scholar” where we give voice to BA, MA and PhD students. They will talk about their research and ponder about media freedom and independence in Russia.
Alexandra Barmina a sociologist, holding an MA degree from the Central European University. Her work is placed on the intersection of such research fields as labor studies, political sociology, economic sociology, state theory and cultural studies.
In October 2018, Barmina presented her study “Labor of Independent Journalists in Russia: Doubly Precarious Employment?” in the annual Aleksanteri Conference.
What are the main findings of your research?
Basically, the finding of this research is that the labour of independent journalists in Russia is precarious – not only in terms of the formal foundations of their employment as it is usually discussed in theory but also because of the political system and regime that exists in Russia, which puts some constraints on their work.
The political dimension of precarity, which I introduce, is identified by journalists as the dominant kind of insecurity they face during their daily work. Whereas the economic dimension of precarity, which in theory is generally considered the most important one, tends to be acknowledge and the political precarity neglected. It is possible that I’m not aware of this theory.
The thing is that labour relations are mostly investigated by Marxist scholars who aim to see how the neoliberal economic regime impacts employment and workers. As far as I know, in labour studies there are not many voices taking into consideration the political dimension and the regime’s impact on individual workers. Journalists as cultural or creative workers are in the Western academia largely investigated in the material perspective.
Russian Media Lab proudly announces the publication of new issue for Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media (www.digitalicons.org). The issue is guest edited by RML’s researchers Saara Ratilainen and Mariëlle Wijermars and by Justin Wilmes.
Issue 19: ‘Women and Tech in the Post-socialist Context: Intelligence, Creativity, Transgression’
Since October 2017, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness of sexual discrimination against women all over the world and showed that participation on digital platforms can and will drive change.
This special issue, in part inspired by the #MeToo movement, is devoted entirely to a feminist perspective on digital media and communication technologies. It wishes to develop our understanding of (hyper)mediated feminisms in post-socialist spaces and to re-connect with gender studies and feminist theory as productive methodological frameworks of digital media studies. Employing a gender and feminist studies approach will also help to reframe and update the current understanding of Russian, Eurasian and Central European new media within the global context of digital information flows and technological development. The question of gender equality is not specific to any country, culture, or geographical context. However, the ways in which gender is discussed and the degree to which gender equality is a political, social or theoretical concern offers an important window to understanding geographically and culturally localized processes.
Second joint workshop between the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, the Aleksanteri Institute – University of Helsinki and CEES University of Glasgow
Venue: Marburg, Germany
Time: 3-4 June 2019
In the last decade, there has been increasing interest in digital technologies and their influence on the production of memory, history and heritage not only within academic research, but also in politics, especially in Eastern Europe and Russia. The tendency toward selective history, heritage and memory politics in the region manifests itself more and more in the digital sphere. Politicians decide on what will be remembered and how. These decisions also influence the decision on what will be digitised and how. Whose heritage will be secured by digitisation and whose will not? Simultaneously, these decisions also aim to regulate the accessibility of digitised heritage. Which materials or collections will be accessible, and which will not? Moreover, the types of users are regulated through these politics.
by Janne Suutarinen & Olga Dovbysh
On 24 January 2019 The State Duma approved after the first reading two legislation bills to toughen penalties for disseminating certain information on the Internet. New legislation on banning false news and insulting authorities on the Internet, so-called “Klishas bills” (after the name of Andrey Klishas, author of the initiative), has already been called “scandalous” since they suggest monetary penalties and even imprisonment for the manifestation of “disrespect toward the authorities” on the Internet.
Russian Media Lab’s researcher Dr. Jussi Lassila thinks that the second and the third readings will probably make only cosmetic changes unless Putin wants to turn the tables. Below he gives his opinion on this initiative. Continue reading
by Saara Ratilainen
Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (Jomec) hosted one of Russian Media Lab researchers, Dr. Saara Ratilainen, as a visiting academic from September to December 2018. This is her account of international exchange facilitated through the Russian Media Lab’s network.
My visit took place at an exciting time, as in the start of the academic year Jomec moved from an early 20th century neoclassical building located at the university campus off the city centre into a shiny new building by the Cardiff central railway station. From the outset, the state-of-the-art glass and steel high-rise, built as part of the city center’s development, was designed for new overlaps between industry and academic worlds. The students, teachers and researchers at Jomec are to work alongside and share facilities with the media broadcaster BBC Cumry/Wales.
Workshop at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki organized by the Russian Media Lab in collaboration with the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen
Helsinki, 02 – 03 September 2019
We invite proposals for papers to be discussed at an intensive two-day workshop on “Media control as source of political power in Central and Eastern Europe” at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki on 02 – 03 September 2019. The workshop will involve around 15 scholars, and early-career researchers are especially encouraged to apply. Travel expenses and accommodation costs of invited participants will be covered by the organisers.
The workshop aims to bring together approaches from political science, media studies and other relevant academic disciplines to get a more comprehensive picture of the role of media control in consolidating and expanding political power in authoritarian regimes and in “backsliding” democracies. The focus of the workshop will equally be on the interplay of media and political actors and on the effect of this relationship on regime dynamics.
The Russian Media Lab is well-represented at the 18th Annual Aleksanteri Conference “Liberation – Freedom – Democracy? 1918–1968–2018”. The project is hosting one round table, six panels and one plenary session! Further details on Russian Media Lab’s stream can be found below. Please consult the Conference website for the latest version of the programme. We look forward to seeing you there!
Russian Media Lab I: Roundtable “Researching Russian Media – Challenges and Future Perspectives”
Venue: Hall 10, University of Helsinki Main Building, 3rd floor, Fabianinkatu 33
24 October 15:30-17:00
Participants: project members Mariëlle Wijermars, Katja Lehtisaari, Olga Dovbysh, Saara Ratilainen, Jussi Lassila
There will be opportunity for informal talk with project members during and after the roundtable. We are open to new ideas, projects and cooperation!
On 29 September, Russian Media Lab researcher Olga Dovbysh will participate as a speaker in open podium discussion “How Is European Media Changing: traditional and social media, post-truth and fake news, virtual public sphere, new transparency and right for information” at the public event The Fall Meetings “How is Europe Changing by Informational Technologies?”
The Fall Meetings – 2018 is the second annual public event of the German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg dedicated to the current European problems, similar to the regular public Fall Conversations in Berlin, organized by the German-Russian Exchange since the recent 20 years (https://www.austausch.org/herbstgespraeche.html).
Russian Media Lab researcher Mariëlle Wijermars will give a lecture at Higher School of Economics (Moscow), faculty of Communication, Media and Design on 28 September. During her talk she will explore how the Russian central government employs cultural memory to claim political legitimacy and discredit political opposition. Also Wijermars will present her new book “Memory Politics in Contemporary Russia: Television, Cinema and the State”.
From 1 September Olga Dovbysh has joined the Russian Media Lab team as a postdoctoral researcher. She will join the current project on Russian media and freedom of expression.
Can you tell a bit about yourself and your research?
I am from Russia, where I have been working since 2013 at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Earlier, I graduated from the master’s program “Media management” from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. In Moscow I’ve been lecturing and running seminars in both English and Russian languages in media studies.
In 2018 I defended my dissertation in sociology. It was an interdisciplinary research lying at the intersection of economic sociology and media studies. I studied how the structure of Russian regional media market changed after the transformation of links between state authorities and media outlets. Firstly, I explored the processes that led to this transformation. Among them are (1) changes in national media policy aimed at further commercialization of media outlets (it was implemented by the repeal of three laws that regulated economic support of regional mass media); (2) poor development and high disproportion of regional advertising market; (3) desire of regional authorities to control regional media landscape without participation in media capital.