Natalie Fenton (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)
Fake Democracy, Digital Media: Reinventing our Democratic Futures?
Liberal democracy has been eviscerated, hollowed out from within and emptied of liberalisms many promises that have failed to materialise. Meanwhile inequality has increased exponentially, ecological crisis beckons and the often unaccountable power of elites (in politics, media, finance, corporations etc) increases dramatically. Media that were once assumed to have important democratic responsibilities – as a public sphere, fourth estate, critical watchdog and a check on power – have been commercialised, starved of funding, attacked and restructured – such that they have increasingly been drawn into neoliberal logic. As citizens feel ever more cut adrift from the decisions that make their lives livable so global capital continues to prosper and shape politics. At the same time, the digital age gives us information abundance and unprecedented connectivity. Under these conditions, this lecture asks some crucial questions of our time: How might we rediscover a critical politics of transformation adequate to the materiality of how increasing inequalities in societies leads to vastly impoverished democracies? How do the politics of emancipation form and materialise? How are the progressive political values of politics in common forged, moderated and channelled into concrete practices? And importantly, how can scholarship contribute to the reinvention of our democratic futures and search out what democracy could become?
Natalie Fenton is a Professor in Media and Communications in the Department of Media and Communication, Goldsmiths, University of London. She is Co-Director of the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre and Co-Director of Goldsmiths Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy. Her latest book Digital, Political, Radical is published by Polity. Other recent books are, (2010) New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age (ed.) Sage; and (2012, 2016) Misunderstanding the Internet (with James Curran and Des Freedman) Routledge. She is on the Board of Directors of the campaign group Hacked Off and a founding member of the Media Reform Coalition.
Vincent Mosco (Queen’s University, Canada)
The Next Internet