Workshop Report on "Comparing Media beyond the Nation State - A German-Russian Workshop on Diversity, Migration and Journalism"

Participants of the ICA 2017 Pre-Conference. From left to right: Florian Toepfl, Svetlana Bodrunova, Paolo Mancini and Muzammil M. Hussain
Participants of the ICA 2017 Pre-Conference. From left to right: Florian Toepfl, Svetlana Bodrunova, Paolo Mancini and Muzammil M. Hussain
Image Credit: Anna Litvinenko

The pre-conference "The Consequences of the Internet for Authoritarian Politics: Comparative Perspectives" took place on May 25, 2017 as part of the International Communication Association's annual conference. The pre-conference was organized by Emmy Noether Research Group of the Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. It brought together researchers from across the world who focus in their work on media in non-democratic contexts. 

The event started with a panel discussion entitled “Comparing Political Communication across Authoritarian Contexts: Challenges and Perspectives” that was moderated by the leader of Emmy Noether group Florian Toepfl. Paolo Mancini (University of Perugia, Italy), Svetlana Bodrunova (University of St. Petersburg, Russia) and Muzammil Hussain (University of Michigan, USA) shared their views on conducting comparative research on authoritarian politics and highlighted challenges for scholars, including gathering data in authoritarian regimes and conceptualizing the findings.

The studies presented by participants in the two following panels showed a big variety of research strategies to compare media in authoritarian contexts, from the classical approach of comparing media systems to comparisons on the level of news organizations and practices. The geographical range of case studies was also broad, with a special attention to China, post-Soviet space, the Arab world, and African countries.

The conference provided a forum for scholars from around the world to discuss comparative perspectives on the consequences of the Internet for authoritarian politics and encouraged intellectual exchange across manifold disciplinary and methodological borders.

Emmy Noether research group "Mediating (Semi-)Authoritarianism - The Power of the Internet in the Post-Soviet World" at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies investigates the interrelations of internet-mediated communication and politics in the post-Soviet region. The five-year project (2014-2019) is financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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