Media, Politics and Governance in a Globalized Public Sphere
Chapter 5. Communication and the crisis of authoritarian control
← 100 | 101 →
· 5 ·
COMMUNICATION AND THE CRISIS OF AUTHORITARIAN CONTROL
If the digital media environment—fast-flowing, volatile and globally connected as it is—creates challenges for good governance and policy management in democratic polities, rather different issues arise for the management of authoritarian regimes. In the pre-digital past, such regimes benefitted from their ability to maintain near-monopoly control of the main channels of communication within their jurisdictions. Top-down mass media—newspapers, TV and radio—were always among the first targets of a coup d’etat or revolution in the twentieth century, and huge resources were devoted to information management by the Bolsheviks, Mao’s Red Army and other twentieth century movements which ushered in tightly centralised systems of government. All contemporary authoritarian regimes seek to exercise control over both old and new media, with varying degrees of sophistication and success. Saudi Arabia has sought to ban Twitter. Bahrain has banned use of Google Earth by its subjects. At times of political crisis, actual or potential, these control techniques become key tools in the maintenance of stable regimes in the face of popular protest.
While the democratizing potential of the internet and the globalized public sphere is clear, democratic or progressive outcomes of political crises in authoritarian societies are not inevitable, even when opposition forces use the ← 101 | 102 → full range of digital media to pursue their objectives. Research on the relationship between, for example, the use of social media and the evolution of the...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.