ПОЛИТИКИ. Svetlana Bodrunova 1. Anna Litvinenko 2. Fragmentation of Society. How Facebook Voices Collective Demands - PDF

113 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL POLICY STUDIES ЖУРНАЛ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЙ СОЦИАЛЬНОЙ ПОЛИТИКИ Svetlana Bodrunova 1 Anna Litvinenko 2 Fragmentation of Society and Media Hybridisation in Today s Russia: How Facebook

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113 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL POLICY STUDIES ЖУРНАЛ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЙ СОЦИАЛЬНОЙ ПОЛИТИКИ Svetlana Bodrunova 1 Anna Litvinenko 2 Fragmentation of Society and Media Hybridisation in Today s Russia: How Facebook Voices Collective Demands Current social structures can be described more effectively with reference to value orientations, consumer patterns and Internet use rather than classic demographics. This approach to social stratification results into the idea of social milieus more flexible than the picture provided by rigid class categorisations. Social milieus differ in many respects; we argue that they also differ in their media diets. In the 21 st century, Russia is a fundamentally fragmented society with post-industrial, industrial, rural and migrant communities showing divergent relations to state social policies as well as varying patterns of public deliberation and consumption, including media use. Social fragmentation is, thus, mirrored in the fragmentation of the media systems; moreover, one more dimension, namely media hybridisation, intervenes and influences the formation of closed-up communicative milieus based on both social patterns and digital divide. Of the several societal milieus observed by social scientists in Russia, some are seriously under-represented in the media system; and deep differences in media consumption, agenda setting, and public deliberation exist between all of them. Recently, a major value-based societal cleavage was revealed during the protest rallies within the For fair elections / white-ribbon movement. Our research in to the media consumption patterns of the participants shows a correlation between media use 1 Svetlana Bodrunova Doct. Sci. in Political Science, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, St.Petersburg State University; Senior Researcher, Internet Studies Lab, National Research University Higher School of Economics in St.Petersburg, Russian Federation. 2 Anna Litvinenko PhD in Letters, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, St.Petersburg State University, Russia; Researcher, Free University of Berlin, Germany. The Journal of Social Policy Studies. Volume Том 14. 1 114 The Journal of Social Policy Studies 14 (1) patterns in the post-industrial urban public counter-sphere (consisting of the intelligentsia, the creative class , students and other white-collar workers) and their perceived political freedom and self-reported online political behaviour. The research is expanded throughsearches for echo chambers and/or opinion crossroads in Russian Facebook vs. its Russian analogue Vkontakte. Results of an online survey with participants of the protest rallies (N=652), 11 in-depth interviews and 5 expert interviews were used to interpret the relations between self-reported media consumption dynamics and perceived political behaviour. The results show that the media diet of protest participants indicates a strong preference for several media clusters, especially social media, oppositional, and alternative-agenda media, while the consumption of traditional media and video is either plummeting or irrelevant. Facebook is flagged up as an echo chamber facilitating the protests. Keywords: Hybrid media system, public sphere, media use, Russia, Facebook, echo chambers, protest With the growth of Internet penetration around the globe over the 2000s and 2010s, traditional interpretations of mediated / media-based public sphere and its potential to engender democratisation, including deliberation practices, have undergone several significant changes. To conceptualise the qualitative shifts that media systems are passing through in terms of their shape, borders and relations with outer society, including the political sphere, we deploy the concept of hybridisation of media systems (Chadwick 2013). This concepts contains two important inter-related interpretations relevant for this research: (1) the growing transformation of offline media into convergent media with multiplatform production and multichannel content delivery; (2) the growth of a new segment of the media sphere, namely online-only professional media outlets and web 2.0 aggregated individual media. These two phenomena are causing new cleavages in societies. In other words, media hybridisation means not only tech-based changes in the structure of media systems and growth of online segments but also numerous social and political consequences of these technological advances, including horizontalisation, a higher degree of audience participation in political discussions, the formation of online pressure groups and the growth of political movements. As a concept, media hybridisation allows us to make flexible connections between research on the technological and structural aspects of transformations in media systems and media-political research, which includes areas of digital divide, agenda setting, the efficacy of the public sphere, and political involvement through media (Bodrunova, Litvinenko 2013a). Most of these issues are united in the idea of closed-up communicative milieus as distorted mirrors of social milieus; such communicative milieus have been called echo chambers , public sphericules (Gitlin 1998), enclaves (Sunstein 2007), or filter bubbles (Pariser 2011). German authors have stated that media hybridisation trajectories are context-bound (Adam, Pfetsch 2011). In other words, media hybridisation depends on the national socio-political context and societal patterns Bodrunova, Litvinenko Fragmentation of Society and Media Hybridisation more than on universal factors (e. g. on the nature of transnational media platforms). In line with this, Elena Vartanova (2013) sees the national context as the primary definer of hybridisation. This idea shows that media hybridisation research has a comparative aspect, as we speak of national hybridisation trajectories that are understood as the parallel development of temporally or causally correlated changes in media systems and political sphere. We will consider how, in Russia, social macro-stratification, political polarisation of social groups, and media use may intertwine. We will analyse the For fair elections protest movement in Russia in order to assess representation of social milieus and media in the communicative space of the conflict. We are particularly interested in whether echo chambers exist on several platforms (Facebook, Vkontakte) and whether we see a national pattern in their formation, or platform-bound factors dominate. Hybrid media for a fragmented audience: Russian society and media in the 21 st century Today, Russia is a fundamentally fragmented society. Sociologists speak of multi-speed Russia or several Russias in one. As the late-soviet and post- Soviet modernisation of the country was misbalanced and fragmented (Kangaspuuro, Smith 2006; Vartanova 2013), it brought with it a new form of valuebased societal cleavages that today only partly mirrors those of thirty years ago. These cleavages, to our mind, are based more upon non-material factors (like values and attitudes) than on traditional demographic stratification variables. In her influential work, Natalia Zubarevich described four Russias based on population concentration, habitat, income and work status, lifestyle and behaviour patterns, and developmental potential. The First Russia comprises 21 % of population if cities with over 1,000,000 inhabitants (millionniki) only are considered, and maximum 36 % if smaller cities are included. The Second Russia (around 25 % of population) is industrialand made up of cities with 20,000 to 300,000 inhabitants whose main occupations are either blue-collar industry or state-funded jobs. It is here that Soviet patterns of social life prevail; its protest potential is reduced by state funds that support employment and social spending. The Third Russia is rural: vast but devastated, depopulated, and depoliticized zone making up 38 % of the population. The Fourth Russia is formed by the North Caucasus and migrants (4/5 of whom are concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg); this Russia is approximately 6 % of population and is focused on in-community struggles for resources and depends largely on Moscow for financing (Zubarevich 2011). A similar division was drawn by Alexander Auzan, who described Russia as of a country of managers, security men, migrants, and pensioners (Auzan 2011). Throughout the 2000s, within the first Russia , a particular stratum was forming, which later acquired popular names such as the creative class and angry city dwellers (Dubrovsky 2014). Sociologically, their key characteristics included the intellectual nature of their work and their preference for values of 116 The Journal of Social Policy Studies 14 (1) self-expression and freedoms over the values of stability (WCIOM 2012). Politically, the national leadership and top executives suffered the lowest levels of legitimacy and prestige in this social milieu (Kachkaeva 2013). In terms of media, they began to form as a new audience of urban, cosmopolitan, highly educated, technologically advanced and creative stance. This fundamental audience fragmentation has produced new cleavages in media consumption, from newspapers to Internet. Several distinctive crossplatform and cross-demographic media clusters may be spotted in today s Russia that differ in audience niches, agendas, media use patterns and the degree of support on display to the ruling elite. There is also variation in media industry concepts, including professional norms, production cultures and understanding of newsworthiness. Moreover, media use itself has become a social stratification variable in Russia: today, exposure to technology (Galitsky, Petuhova 2012), media diets and media use patterns, is not less important than your income or job status in assigning membership to a certain social milieu. Florian Toepfl (2011) outlined official, mainstream, liberal-oppositional, and social media clusters in Russia. But this division does not fully correspond to the four Russias by Zubarevich. The third and fourth Russia are heavily underrepresented in national and even regional media, which creates silent zones in the public sphere, as the mainstream media (mostly federal TV channels and tabloid nationwide newspapers) is oriented to the second Russia . Concurrently, the hybridisation of the Russian media system in late 1990s 2000s had several stages and several peculiar features. The early years of Runet were marked by a sense of freedom, as the Russian internet owed its origin not to any efforts of the late-soviet authorities but emerged as a collection of networks initiated by private forces (Rohozinski 1999: V). As it is evident from Georgy Bovt (2002), of the first three pioneering phases of Runet media, the third ( ) was already politically-oriented, as new media outlets like Gazeta.ru, SMI.ru, Utro. ru, Lenta.ru appeared in between State Duma and presidential election campaigns. The next phase includes the fat years 2001 to 2007 when the main growth of Runet could be observed, with offline media gradually appearing online; the blogosphere, especially the Russian Livejournal, being the main communication milieu for the Runet elite: IT workers, students, urban office-based employees and the creative intelligentsia (Alexanyan, Koltsova 2009). Internet penetration reached over 30 % in millionniki (Vartanova 2013), with the Russian social networking platforms Vkontakte ( In contact ) and Odnoklassniki ( Classmates ) blooming. These years saw the formation of the first online close-up communication milieu, namely the Russian Livejournal (Gorny 2004), while web 1.0 remained practically non-regulated. The next two phases, we argue, are those of and since 2011 on, and they are clearly politically shaped in their beginnings and ends, as the phase begins with the first rokirovka ( castling between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev) at the elections and ends with the outburst of the street protest of December 2011 in Moscow. It is when Internet use in Russia Bodrunova, Litvinenko Fragmentation of Society and Media Hybridisation grew rapidly (from 20,8 % in 2007 to 27 % in 2008 and 44,3 % in 2011, according to Internet World Stats). The distinct features of the Runet of 2000s were, firstly, the special shape of the digital divide in and beyond the journalistic community (Anikina et al. 2013) which practically pushed older-generation journalists out of online-only media production. Secondly, there was a low parallelism between offline and online media (Bodrunova, Litvinenko 2013b) and, thirdly, social networks enjoyed a special role within the online community. Thus, by September 2011, there were over 50 million Russian users online, or just over 1/3 of the population (Ioffe 2010). There remained, however, a sharp division between the big cities of the first Russia where the average Internet penetration level was already over 90 % in 2012 (Vartanova 2013: 86), and the third Russia. Today, this difference is gradually diminishing, as over 50 % of today s users do not belong to the cities of over 100,000 inhabitants. Nearly one half of the online audience in Russia, though, is aged from 25 to 45, thus taking the Internet use profile far from normal distribution. It is these young but experienced users that drive the development of Internet projects, according to Rambler Rumetrics. An important feature of the Runet media was low structural parallelism between online and offline media (Litvinenko 2013). On one hand, the top ten Runet media sites, included only one or two web portals of the major offline outlets, according to the monthly figures of the media monitoring agency Medialogia (ibid). On the other hand, in provincial Russia a large amount of online media merely contained homepages with greetings editorials and scanned front pages online with no clear purpose (Bodrunova 2013). Surprisingly, TV portals were underdeveloped as well. Another national feature in Russia is the peculiar configuration of the social networking websites market. With over 110 million Russian-language users, Vkontakte functions as a home for the younger part of the second Russia, while Odnoklassniki represent its older part with significant representation from the third Russia. Facebook, a relative newcomer from 2009 onwards, attracted the advanced audience from Livejournal and other communicative spaces reaching circa 9 milllion users by In 2010, ComScore ranked Russia in first place worldwide in monthly time spent in social networks per visitor (9.8 hours vs. worldwide average of 4.5 hours per visitor, with these figures rising up to 12.8 and 5.9, respectively, in 2012). But this audience seemed to be using social networks mostly for fun rather any political interests (Etling et al. 2010).This led some Oxford and Harvard researchers to call Runet the web that failed in terms of political expectations (Fossato 2008). As later events showed, these assumptions underestimated the crucial potential of Runet. According to many scholars (Alexanyan 2009; Gorny 2004; Schmidt, Teubener 2006) Runet media and blogs, in terms of content, were influenced in the 2000s by both nation-specific societal structures and journalistic traditions, which reproduces social atomisation, negative attitudes to official institutions and a strong dependence on personal networks as a source of information, opinions and support (Gorny 2009: 8). Since 2009, however, a new cluster of hybrid media with alternative 118 The Journal of Social Policy Studies 14 (1) agendas has begun to form (Openspace.ru, Bolshoy gorod, Snob.ru, Slon.ru etc.) that unites sharp social critiques with professional and/or cultural criticism. Hybridisation has brought a new dimension into societal borders. The communicative split between the first and second Russias that began to form coincides with the splitting of agendas between federal TV, state-owned and pro-establishment newspapers as opposed to business papers, online-only news agencies, and alternative-agenda media (both online-only and hybrid). This split was still latent towards the end of the 2000s but has already started to cut through online/offline divisions, being shaped not by this digital divide but by age, gender and class cleavages in Russia s media audience. Research findings In , we conducted research upon the media diets and media consumption patterns among Russia s protest community (Bodrunova, Litvinenko 2013b). Short history of the Russian For fair elections movement of included protest rallies from December 2011 to May 2012 in 39 cities all over Russia. In summer 2012, we conducted an online survey among the rally participants. The questionnaire had 29 questions, we received 652 responses, of which 424 were full (and over 500 completed more than 3/4); thus, the full response rate was close to 2/3. We also conducted 11 in-depth interviews with senior media managers, political analysts, and representatives of the whitecollar , online aborigines and TV oldies (as defined by Vartanova (2013)) audience strata to cross-validate our results. Five media experts also provided us with their views on media use patterns in the times of the protests. According to our findings, the social milieu involved in protest activity varies significantly from the average Russian socio-demographic spread. Our respondents are over 30 (32 36) years old mainly, over 70 % of them have higher education and 10 % have an academic degree. Vkontakters (those who predominantly use Vkontakte) are, on average, older than the Facebookers. The respondents mainly work as hired professionals (40 %), including upper levels of management (15.6 %), and the number of students, pensioners, and non-workers is not higher than 5 %, while the number of self-employed and freelance workers who depend on themselves in financial support amounts to 25 %. Our figures are in line with the general image (WCIOM 2012) of the Russian protests: it is really dominated by the creative and managerial class of Moscow and St.Petersburg (3/4 of the respondents), successful people with high self-esteem and who perhaps offer a plea for change, thus reflecting the four Russias division. As to the political activity of the respondents, it was remarkably low before the protests started, roughly 1 on (0; 3) scale. In accordance with this, the media diet of the protest movement contrasts sharply with the average one, where TV is the main news source for up to 98 % of population, according to various polls by WCIOM and Circon from 2004 to 12. The news diet of the protests consisted to a large extent of new media (online Bodrunova, Litvinenko Fragmentation of Society and Media Hybridisation media, social media and blogs almost equally) and of radio (mostly oppositional, and of those mostly Ekho Moskvy). The overall preference of online information sources to offline ones is 4,2 for Facebookers and 4.0 for Vkontakters on the scale of (1; 5). No surprise, then, that respondents generally perceived social media as a very influential trigger of the protests (1.53 on the scale of (0; 2)). The preferences towards web 2.0 media are also supported by the fact that social networks, blogosphere, and online media compete very closely within media diets of the rally participants: our results showed correlations in common use of these three media types. Traditional politically relevant media, like TV and print, remain relevant information sources for not more than 25 % of the respondents in terms of regular news supply. This provides new input for re-consideration of political influence of various media segments. The growth in consumption of online media naturally suggests their growing influence, but cases of street protest demand a closer look at the thresh
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