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Raising the Civil Dead

Prisoners and Community Radio

Heather Anderson

What is prisoners’ radio? Who is involved in «creating» these types of programs and what influence do they have on discourses of law and order? Internationally, radio that operates for, or by, prisoners exists almost exclusively within the community radio context. Little has been documented about the genre so far.
Raising the Civil Dead seeks to address this lack of information. It examines prisoners’ radio as citizens’ media, connecting directly to notions of civic responsibility. It focuses on the ways in which people produce media and how these activities transform those individuals. The research is the result of four in-depth case studies conducted in two countries, complemented by an international inventory of prisoners’ radio programs and stations.


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Section One


22 23 Chapter One Theorising community radio – citizens’ media and beyond Introduction There is […] no one ‘right’ way to frame or define alternative media. Combining different approaches enables a panoptic picture of the phenomenon that takes ac- count of the multiplicity and diversity of alternative media initiatives, acknowledging the concepts that structure and define their identity as well as their fluidity, at a micro level of analysis (Bailey et al. 2008: 150). This quote from Bailey, Cammaerts and Carpentier (2008) summarises the essence of a key argument of this book, over which I had toiled for four (long) years – that taking a singular approach to the analysis of pris- oners’ radio is not sufficient. Two complimentary, yet distinct, functions of prisoners’ radio emerged from my research and neither could be suffi- ciently explained or examined within the confines of any particular dis- course. A citizens’ media (or participatory) approach, such as that out- lined by Rodriguez (2001), did not adequately recognise the work achieved by information-based programs. Public sphere theory acknowl- edged the contributions of such media to a wider understanding of pris- oner’s issues, but failed to recognise the processes by which these understandings are produced. As such, there was vindication in discovering a multi-theoretical ap- proach which re-affirmed the ideas I had fervently attempted to draw to- gether. This being said, I do not draw heavily upon the work of Bailey et al. (2008). My opening quote appears as an introduction to my own ex- ploration of the...

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