Democracy in the 20th century is intimately linked to the communications media. Understanding the functioning and health of contemporary political systems requires an appreciation of the role of the media in general and in particular, television. The theoretical concepts of civil society and the public sphere are clarified alongside a critical analysis of the practice of television as journalism, as information and as entertainment. The author demonstrates the limits and possibilites of the television medium and the formats of popular journalism. These questions are linked to the potential of the audience to interpret or resist messages, and to construct its own meanings. What does a realistic understanding of the working and capabilites of television imply for citizenship and democracy in a mediated age? Relatiing the social and cultural theory of mediated societies to the actual realities of televised communication, this text should be useful reading for students of media and communication studies, sociology and politics of the media.
Peter Dahlgren is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Journalism, Media and Communications at the University of Stockholm. He is the author or editor of numerous works in Swedish and of two books in English, both of which he edited with Colin Sparks: Communication and Citizenship (Sage, 1991) and Journalism and Popular Culture (Sage, 1992).