Capitalism and the Media Seminar - 1 December

The MDCEE project was delighted to host a seminar on The Organisation of Capitalism and the Media in Western and Eastern Europe on Thursday 1 December 2011 at Nuffield College, Oxford.

Our speakers at the seminar were:

Professor David Soskice (Nuffield College, Oxford and Duke University)

Varieties of Capitalism and Associated Political Systems: Speculations about the Media

Different varieties of capitalism in the rich countries are associated with different political systems - including the nature of political parties and of political competition. I will speculate about the extent to which these differences relate to differences in the way in which the media functions, and to what extent the media simply operates as an industry in a particular variety of capitalism.

Professor Peter Humphreys (University of Manchester)

Typologies and the Comparative Study of Media Systems in Europe

The presentation provides a critical perspective on the application of typological approaches to comparing media systems and specifically provides a critique of Hallin and Mancini's Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics (2004). The presentation argues that media systems are not easily fitted into identifiable types, arguing that they are often rather more 'sui generis' than Hallin and Mancini allow. The presentation argues that systematic comparison of the complex relationship between media systems and the political system can be usefully explored by reference to 'congruence' or 'symmetry theory and that, in particular, historical institutionalist (HI) theory from political science might be more explicitly employed (Hallin and Mancini mention 'path dependence' in passing) for the study of the relationship between often highly idiosyncratic national media systems and the socio-cultural and political system in which they embedded. Notwithstanding the difficulties involved with typologies, the presentation considers how the Hallin and Mancin's 2004 approach might be usefully adapted to take into account a wider range of salient political, legal and economic variables that bear on the media system.

Professor Bela Greskovits (Central European University, Budapest)

Polanyian Varieties of Capitalism with Reflections on the Media

The contribution introduces a Polanyian approach to capitalist diversity originally elaborated for post-socialist Eastern Europe but suitable for comparisons with other cases too. Viable varieties are defined as capitalist social orders, which differ in a patterned rather than random way on key dimensions of institutions and performances.

The main proposition is that these regimes' viability is to be traced to the capacity of the political system to maneuver and find compromises within the space bordered by triple risks: social disintegration due to commodifying market expansion; disorganization or paralysis of economy due to over-regulation or ill-conceived social protection; and political breakdown triggered by malfunctioning of polity or absent legitimacy.

The role of media could be factored in by assessing the degree to which and forms in which it can strengthen or weaken agents' capacity to maneuver among capitalism's perils. Since varied capitalist orders differ in their uneven exposure to particular risks and opportunities, an analysis of the patterns of media ownership, organization, political environment, and market strategy – all shaping the type of information provided to elites and citizens - may help a better understanding of the diversity of capitalist and media regimes, their relationship with each other, and their interplay across a number of political economy arenas.

The seminar was moderated by:

Jacek Zakowski (Collegium Civitas, Warsaw and Polityka)

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