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Minority Language Media and the Public Sphere

Abstract : For the last ten years, the development of audio-visual and multimedia technologies has been providing a vast variety of worldwide channels, opening up outlets and prospects for alternative or community media. In the meantime, as a reaction against state centralized policies as well as against the deterritorialization of traditional cultural and social spaces caused by the internationalization of communication systems, a new consciousness for cultural diversity gradually grew up (Mattelart, 1994). This new situation holds for the entire planet, thus not just in Europe where, until recently, the variety of languages spoken in the different countries was considered as a serious drawback to create unity, according to Julien Benda (1933; 1947). In many regions throughout the world, linguistic minorities strongly claim the right to be officially present in the audiovisual media. For many endangered languages, expression used in a Unesco report by Wurm (2001), this expresses the concern to legitimize their cause and to reach a wider audience thanks to digital networks. Often considered as a cultural phenomenon, linguistic issues are a very political matter. Indeed, they convert into demands for official recognition to the States as well as supranational authorities (for example the European Union). Above all, they question the public sphere and imply redefining the social contract that links citizens. They also suppose special attention from political authorities as well as specific policies. The recent unrests in Bolivia and Peru opposing Aymara communities to their local corrupt politicians show how the lack of interest from their respective States can drive the Indians - long considered as second-class citizens - to violent actions (El País, 2004). The article tackles two complementary sides of the question: on the one hand, the legal framework set by political institutions in order to organize or restrict the expression of minority languages in the media; on the other hand, a critical survey of the different theories which discuss the stakes of multiculturalism and citizenship in relation to media public sphere. As a matter of fact, the two sides are closely related : political and academic debates are deeply marked by national historical traditions, thus affecting the legal or institutional solutions set up by the different countries.
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Contributor : Jacques Guyot <>
Submitted on : Monday, October 31, 2011 - 5:53:02 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 11:50:17 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00637302, version 1


Jacques Guyot. Minority Language Media and the Public Sphere. Mike Cormack and Niamh Hourigan. Language Media. Concepts, CRitiques and Case Studies., Multilingual Matters Ltd., pp.34-51, 2007. ⟨halshs-00637302⟩



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