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Nouveaux médias en Russie postsoviétique : nouvelles formes de l'espace public ?

Abstract : Our paper focuses on the social insertion of digital communication devices in the post-Soviet Russian society and the role of these tools in the emerging of public debates. Nowadays in Russia a remarkable paradox can be observed. Despite the important media and culture offer, there is a strong control of media space and public space. The mass media (especially TV channels) that constitute the dominant part of the Russian public sphere are subject to a complex system of censorship and they are increasingly mobilized as tool for and public political communication or propaganda. We may enumerate several ways of direct and indirect control on mass media, such as, for example, the direct purchase of media by state structures and societies linked with the State; the legal media editors and journalists; the financial pressure from the tax authorities and police and so on. State power has entered in the media again as a major actor and main controller. But the state is not the only actor on the initiative of the debates. For some years, in Russia there is a strong "social insertion" of socio-technical devices of communication, which can characterize the Russian version of the use of ICT.According to statistics of the Russian search engine Yandex, 85% of Russian Internet users participate in a social network, 34% of them have their own blogs, and 46 million Russians use the Internet in 2011. From our point of view, the relative success of these digital tools can be explained by the transformation of practices within the Russian public sphere (Habermas, 1978). In the conditions where access to public sphere is denied to certain social actors, they seek to use these "alternative" digital devices, unconventional compared to the mainstream mass media to make they visible, activate the public sphere or create new forms of space and influence decisions of power. In Russia, for some years, I observe several cases where the subjects and events that were previously almost absent in the discourse of mainstream media become visible and controversial in society after their passage through the "new media". These events related to the issues of corruption and abuse of power in the Russian police (Major Dymovski, the case of "human shield", the movement of the "blue seal"), the inequality social (the accident the vice-president of the oil company "Lukoil") and ecology (the struggle for the protection of the Khimki Forest). When the mainstream media are mobilized by the state to escape the problem of legitimacy, to simulate the debate and participation and to manage the tensions in some areas, these "new media" structure the discussions and create non-formal "societal public sphere" (Miège, 2010). My paper shows how certain themes and societal issues came from these informal verbal exchanges in social networks are able to feed the public debate and, in part, influence the mainstream media and administrative decisions of the power. Areas of information and debates that are organized through the socio-technical tool to preserve the diversity of views and challenge the power of standardization, uniformity, and the injection of the debates in the media become the mean of analysis of situation in Russia. Our paper shows the strategies of different actors (government, associations, and social movements) towards the digital networks, the balance of power between them and the emergence of new entrants. We question the issues and strategies of different social actors in relation to digital communication tools and power relations of these actors.In our case, the development of networks and digital devices in Russia is part of the logic of existence in this country of parallel media and cultural production. These devices that are used in modern Russia to create the independent opinions may be seen as optional to the traditional media. Our idea is that the emergence of "new" social issues in public debate can be explained by the multiplication and growth of strategies of political actors and society. This space does not come from ICT but it is influenced by ICT. The "old" actors (social movements, non-institutionalized political parties, media players) looking to expand their scope, create the debates, make themselves visible.To conduct this research we have chosen to articulate three different but complementary methods. First of all, we analyze the public discourse of Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev with the aim to understand the propaganda model of political communication and the symbolic values of Russian society. These texts taken from the official sites of the Prime Minister and the Russian President demonstrate how the paternalistic discourse contributes to the monopolization of the public sphere. In a second time, we converse with bloggers from the platform "Livejournal". This choice is explained by the large number of blogs it hosts (13 million users in November 2011 according to TNS) and the political and societal issues that it deals. We give priority to bloggers with a large audience, accumulating a considerable number of comment and discussion. These interviews allow us to determine the socioprofessional categories represented by these bloggers. Finally, we analyze the content of blogs entries and discussions that follow. This analysis shows the emergence of discussions about topics missing in the mainstream media (ecology, corruption, critics of power) and the appearance of public sphere that results from self publicizing private opinions under the protection of these digital devices. Studying the process of penetration of these discourses into the public sphere highlights the reversal of the reports of political forces.
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Alexander Kondratov. Nouveaux médias en Russie postsoviétique : nouvelles formes de l'espace public ?. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. pp.275. ⟨hal-00823884v2⟩

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