[FoME] New MeCoDEM Working Paper | Research Design and Methodology of Media, Conflict and Democratisation

Ines Drefs Ines.Drefs at gmx.de
Do Jun 11 11:53:58 CEST 2015

MeCoDEM Working Paper:

Investigating the Media and Democratisation Conflicts: Research Design and Methodology of Media, Conflict and Democratisation (Katrin Voltmer and Hendrik Kraetzschmar)

This working paper from the MeCoDEM series is now available for download at: http://www.mecodem.eu/publications/working-papers

Executive Summary
The project Media, Conflict and Democratisation (MeCoDEM) investigates the role of media and communication in processes of regime transformation from authoritarian rule to a more democratic order. This paper outlines the main conceptual considerations and the research design that are guiding the research programme of the project.

- Contrary to the common assumption that democracy provides mechanisms for peaceful conflict resolution, experience shows that many transitions to democracy are characterised by fierce conflicts and even violence. The research of MeCoDEM focuses on these democratisation conflicts, i.e. conflicts that are triggered by and accompany transitions to, or demands for, a more democratic form of government. These conflicts can be understood as communication events that crystallise around the interpretation of events, contested values and the legitimacy of power. We argue that the dynamics of democratisation conflicts and their ultimate outcomes are determined by the way in which they are communicated.

- With their agenda-setting power and their ability to create interpretive frames, the media are key players in transitional contestations. However, the media cannot be understood in isolation. Instead, they are part of a shared, but contested space of – both online and offline – public communication where a multitude of actors compete for attention and recognition: governments and political elites, citizens and civil society groups with different orientations and objectives. This paper presents a communication model of democratisation conflicts that incorporates these various elements.

- The research design of MeCoDEM follows a comparative, multiple case study approach. Research is carried out in four countries, each of which representing particular constellations in democratic development with far-reaching repercussions in their respective regions: Egypt, Kenya, Serbia and South Africa. In each of these countries we study three conflict cases that illuminate key dilemmas of democratic transition: (1) conflicts over citizenship and identity; (2) conflicts over the distribution and control of power and good governance; (3) elections and their potential of exacerbating existing frictions: (4) conflicts related to transitional justice and reconciliation.

- Overall, MeCoDEM contributes to existing knowledge by: - investigating the communicative dimension of democratisation conflicts, which has been largely overlooked in democratisation studies so far; - providing systematic empirical and comparative research data on the interplay between media and democratisation. 

About MeCoDEM: 
MeCoDEM began on 1 February 2014 and will run over three years. The project investigates the interplay of communication and democratisation conflicts in four emerging democracies, Egypt, Kenya, Serbia and South Africa, each of them representing unique aspects of transitional / post-transitional divisions. Based on a comparative case study design, the research covers constitutional conflicts, civic conflicts and conflicts surrounding accountability and good governance. These conflicts constitute arenas of dispute where the media interact with the communicative strategies of governments on the one hand, and political activists and political movements struggling for recognition on the other. MeCoDEM is funded by the European Union within the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme. With a budget of 2.2 million Euros, the project consortium includes eight partner institutions from six countries: University of Leeds (coordinating institution), University of Belgrade, University of Hamburg, University of Cape Town, University of Oxford, Stockholm University, Ruhr University Bochum and American University in Cairo.

For further enquiry: 
Prof Katrin Voltmer | K.Voltmer at leeds.ac.uk

MeCoDEM contact: 
Prof Barbara Thomass | Barbara.Thomass at rub.de 
Website: www.mecodem.eu | Twitter:@MeCoDEM

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