Chapter Two







Government: Political and National Dimensions

This chapter begins with an overview of citizenship theory, drawing attention to its national and cultural as well as its political dimensions. It also critically appraises the relationship of liberal and critical media theories to citizenship discourses, with the claim that citizenship is automatically related to public service broadcasting being critiqued. It is argued that binary oppositions between citizens and consumers, and public and commercial broadcasting, are neither empirically sustainable nor intellectually productive. A detailed overview is provided of the historical development of citizenship and its relationship to political strategies associated with ‘governmentality’, or the management of population through the diffusion of techniques of self-management aimed at regulating conduct. Tensions between governmentality and citizenship are seen as arising from three sources: the paradox of political power being exercised over populations in the name of their own popular sovereignty; the relationship between policy ‘failure’ and political contestation; and the relationship between policy expertise and political sovereignty. Enhancing the scope for citizen participation in political decisions that have an impact on their lives has often been presented as the solution to these problems, but it presents its own issues,

68 most notably around questions of representativeness and the nature of political agency.

The second half of this chapter explores the concept of national citizenship and its relationship to the development of national cultures, with particular reference to the role played by print and broadcast media as cultural technologies that can be engaged in the ‘nationing’ of populations. The capacity to distribute broadcast media across national boundaries presents challenges to the cultural sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction of the nation-state, analogous to those discussed in the debates about globalisation. It is found that, just as the globalisation literature overstates both the newness and the significance of the phenomena it describes, debates about media globalisation need to recognise the relationship between global, national and local forces in the circulation of audiovisual media content, together with the important roles played by nationstates and national cultures in the regulation of these international media flows, and the significance of these forms of ‘communicative boundary maintenance’ to the formation of national citizens.

The ‘Return of the Citizen’ in Media Studies

The 1990s saw the concept of citizenship put forward as providing a set of guiding principles for media policy and media studies. Stuart Cunningham proposed that citizenship discourses provided a direction for research and critical

69 activity in media and cultural studies that would ‘be developed and justified within an operational reformism that is sensitive to what is possible as much as to what is ideal’ (Cunningham 1992b: 535). Geoff Mulgan utilised citizenship discourse in the ‘quality debate’ about British broadcasting, to argue that a citizenship perspective allowed television viewers to conceive of themselves as contributors to the making of television as well as being its receivers, and got beyond the sterile dichotomy of consumer sovereignty versus cultural elitism (Mulgan 1990). James Curran (1991), Jo Hawke (1995) and Julianne Schultz (1994) proposed an orientation to citizenship as essential to requiring both media proprietors and journalists to recognise social obligations as well as private interests, and as an alternative to policy approaches which they saw as interpreting community well-being as being synonymous with the extension of market relations.

Utilising T.H. Marshall’s (Marshall 1947) historical typology of civil, political and social citizenship, Peter Golding and Graham Murdock (1989) propose that communications policies that guaranteed citizenship rights would: (1) maximise the access of individuals to information, advice and analysis concerning their rights; (2) provide all sections of the community with access to the broadest possible range of information, interpretation and debate on issues; and (3) allow people from all sections of society to recognise themselves in the representations offered in communications media, and to be able to contribute to the development and shaping of these representations. The necessary conditions

70 for communications and information systems to achieve such goals are maximum possible diversity of provision, mechanisms for user feedback and participation, and universal access to services regardless of income or place of residence. According to Graham Murdock, ‘to meet these criteria, a communications system needs to be both diverse and open’ (Murdock 1992: 21).

Renewed interest in citizenship in media and communications studies coincided with developments in the 1990s which saw citizenship become ‘the “buzz word” among political thinkers on all points of the political spectrum’ (Kymlicka and Norman 1994: 352; cf. Turner 1986; Hall and Held 1989; Hirst 1990). In political terms, citizenship is ‘a polysemic category, open to contestation’ (Miller 1993: 12), and has been used to justify political projects as diverse as privatisation of public assets and retention of public ownership, or both the rights of welfare recipients and schemes requiring the unemployed to work in order to receive welfare benefits. In current usage, citizenship has become a ‘Third Way’ concept, used to find ways forward in social and political debates from long-standing divides between neo-liberalism and Marxian socialism (Giddens 1998; Latham 1997).

In their discussion of the renewal of interest in citizenship in political theory, Kymlicka and Norman point to two cautionary issues. First, they observe that ‘the scope of a “theory of citizenship” is potentially limitless ... [as] almost every problem in political philosophy involves relations among citizens or

71 between citizens and the state’ (Kymlicka and Norman 1994: 353). Second, they point to a need to avoid conflating ‘citizenship-as-legal-status’, involving full membership in a particular political community independently of one’s degree of political participation (so-called ‘passive citizenship’) with ‘citizenship-asdesirable-activity’, or ‘active citizenship’, where ‘the extent and quality of one’s citizenship is a function of one’s participation in that community’ (Kymlicka and Norman 1994: 353). A third issue is the complex and sometimes contradictory relationship between political citizenship, which can be the basis for an open, inclusive and universalist understanding of rights, and national citizenship, with its associated obligations to a nation-state, a ‘common culture’ and a moral community. Employing Hindess’ (1993) definition of citizenship, the concept can be seen to have three dimensions:

1. A legal-political dimension, based upon an egalitarian understanding of rights and duties, including the guarantee of legal rights of independence and equality before the law, the political rights of freedom of speech and association, and the right of citizens to participate in decisions concerning their governance, as part of their standing as independent persons; 2. A national dimension, or the existence of forms of exclusivity over the granting of citizen rights within a territorially defined community, and control by state authorities over formal admission into that community, including the right to deny admission, as well as requirements upon citizens to participate in the affairs of that community, including the defence of its territory;

72 3. A cultural dimension entailing, on the one hand, the sustaining of some form of moral community or ‘common culture’ among its citizens, as part of a binding sense of membership in a political community and, on the other, recognition and tolerance of difference, diversity and the rights of individuals to freedoms within the ‘private’ sphere.

Media and Citizenship: Classical and Contemporary Debates

Citizenship in its modern sense has long been connected to the media of communications. Popular media have played both a pedagogical role as cultural technologies deployed for purposes of nation-building and citizen-formation, and a more critical role as sites for articulation of popular discontent with the unjust or illegitimate use of public power and authority. Philosophers of modernity such as Immanuel Kant and G.W.F. Hegel recognised the relationship between the means of expression of ideas and the popular imaginary. Kant defined the public use of reason as ‘that use which anyone may make of it as a man of learning addressing the entire reading public’ (Kant 1971: 55), while Hegel described ‘reading the morning paper [as] a kind of realistic morning prayer’ (quoted in Donald 1998: 219). More generally, the centrality of media to modern conception of citizenship arises from the re-emergence of classical citizenship discourses in the context of modernity, whose features include: the large multi-ethnic nation-state; representative democracy; commerce and capitalist industry; rational and calculative modes of government administration; and a world of sovereign states

73 (Heater 1990; Davidson 1997). The primary means of communication of modern nation-states would not be the direct speech and face-to-face interaction of the ancient city-states, but rather forms of ‘mediated interaction’ associated with the development of print technology and the mass circulation of the printed word and, later, broadcasting (Thompson 1995; Finnegan 1988).

In broad terms, two approaches to the relationship between media and citizenship have predominated. The first has been that of liberal media theory, which points to the role of the media in modern liberal-democratic societies as guardians of the rights and liberties of citizens in the face of unaccountable or irresponsible exercises of institutional power, or as the ‘Fourth Estate’. According to liberal media theory, the principal requirement of a free media is that it must possess ‘freedom from government controls or domination’ (Seibert 1963: 51). Structural independence from government, and a willingness to champion popular interests in the face of institutional power, are central parts of the rhetorical armour of the media as the ‘Fourth Estate’. Julianne Schultz has argued that, in the late twentieth century, this has been associated with the ‘watchdog’ role of the media, and the assertion by journalists of ‘their idealised role as defenders of the public interest’, in the face of challenges from the executive, parliamentary and judicial ‘estates’ of government (Schultz 1998: 93).

The primary weakness of liberal media theory is its difficulty in reconciling the formal equality of senders and receivers in the communications

74 marketplace with substantive inequalities in access to material resources to influence public opinion, and the concentration of ownership of the most influential media among a small number of powerful corporate interests. Curran (1991) describes the three principal limitations of liberal media theory as being: its reluctance to address the implications of media concentration for diversity of opinion; the tendency for media markets to consolidate the position of dominant media conglomerates; and the adverse implications for diversity of opinion arising from the tendency to pursue the largest possible media audience through limited product differentiation. Schultz also points to the difficulty in promoting ‘Fourth Estate’ ideals in the context of a predominantly commercial media system, in her observation that journalism has been increasingly bound by the ‘paradox of holding its head in politics while its feet are grounded in commerce’ (Schultz 1998: 45).

Critical media theory shares with liberal media theory a belief in the emancipatory possibilities of media, but is concerned about the degree to which media institutions are enmeshed with wider structures of political and economic power. The tension between the formal equality of citizens in democratic societies, and the structural inequalities and forms of hierarchy characteristic of capitalist market economies, is seen as creating a situation where ‘the public sphere - this space for a rational and universalistic politics distinct from both the economy and the State - was destroyed by the very forces that had brought it into existence’ (Garnham, 1990: 107). This argument is most full developed in Jurgen Habermas’s

75 historical-normative analysis of the public sphere, which is seen as first emerging among the educated middle classes of Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the bourgeois public sphere, but which has been marked by decline in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, due to the concentration of corporate control over media industries, the rise of advertising and public relations as mechanisms for control over media content, and the growing role of the state in economic and social management through Keynesian economics and the welfare state. As a result, for Habermas, the liberal model of the public sphere ‘cannot be applied to the actual conditions of an industrially advanced mass democracy organised in the form of the social welfare state’ (Habermas 1977: 200).

Drawing upon Habermas, critical media theorists such as Nicholas Garnham (1990), James Curran (1991) and Peter Dahlgren (1995) have argued for the significance of public broadcasting as central to the project of collective citizen formation within nation-states. Garnham argued that public broadcasting possesses elements of an ideal-type public sphere, such as operational principles premised upon ‘a communally agreed structure of rules and towards communally defined ends’, and the ‘opportunity for different classes and groups to take part in the same public dialogue’ (Garnham 1990: 105). Curran proposed that a decentralised and highly accountable form of public broadcasting should constitute the core of a democratic media system, around which would operate politically - aligned media, journalist-controlled media, private enterprise media and ‘social market’ media. For Dahlgren (1995), the central tension with broadcast media is in the contemporary

76 public sphere, where ‘those media institutions which are of the most significance for the majority of citizens are … to a great extent beyond the reach of citizen practices and interventions’ (Dahlgren 1995: 155). In order to overcome this ‘tragic’ (Dahlgren 1995: 5; Garnham 1992: 107) vision of the relationship of media to citizenship in liberal-capitalist societies, Dahlgren looked to the coexistence of decentralised and accountable ‘common domain’ media with ‘advocacy media’, nurtured through public policy, to promote strong citizenship and an active civil society.

The connection drawn by critical media theorists between public broadcasting and political citizenship is not as clear-cut as it first appears to be. Richard Collins (1993) has drawn attention to the tendency in critical theory to deal with public service broadcasting as a normative ideal, rather than with the actual conduct of public service broadcasters. The point is not merely a semantic one since, as Collins observed, in countries where commercial and public service broadcasters have coexisted, the conduct of public service broadcasters can only be understood in terms of their interaction with the commercial sector, rather than as a stand-alone broadcasting system. For Collins, this interaction with the commercial sector has been a positive influence on public service broadcasting since, in countries where public service broadcasting developed without pressures from audience competition from a commercial system, the outcome has largely been ‘a “top-down” broadcasting service [that] constructed an idealised and reified public, to which it represented a public sphere of broadcasters’

77 imagination’ (Collins 1993: 250). Gay Hawkins (1999) has noted the problems that have arisen for public broadcasters in their ‘assumption that “quality” meant “not commercial”’, most notably in the ‘perpetual quandary’ that arises between ensuring distinctiveness and achieving popularity, and a resulting tendency to constitute quality in terms that ‘consistently value the middlebrow over the vulgar and information and aesthetics over fun’ (Hawkins 1999: 176). From the commercial broadcasting perspective, Stuart Cunningham’s (1993) account of the historical mini-series that screened on Australian commercial television in the 1980s, and their relationship to discourses of national identity that were reflective on formative national events, provides an interesting counter-example of ‘nationbuilding’ programming on Australian commercial television.

John Hartley (1996, 1999) has developed a very different model of the relationship between media and citizenship in modernity. In Popular Reality: Journalism, Modernity, Popular Culture (Hartley 1996), Hartley proposes that, since popular culture is ‘another name for the practice of media readership in modernity’ (Hartley 1996: 47), and as it is through journalism that the logic of democratic equivalence that is at the heart of political citizenship is circulated, it is not possible to understand the functioning of media in relation to citizenship in terms of binary oppositions between the quality and the popular, or the public and the commercial. Hartley extends this argument in Uses of Television (Hartley 1999), proposing that ‘the uses of television are best understood by means of the concept of transmodern teaching [and] … what television has been used for is the

78 formation of cultural citizenship’ (Hartley 1999: 26). Associating cultural citizenship with the right to claim an identity based upon difference, Hartley argues that in the great competition of modernity between governmental, educational, media and critical institutions for popular attention in the public sphere, it is the broadcast media that have been most effective in leading a movement from ‘mass society’ and adherence to a national culture, to identity politics and what Hartley terms ‘do-it-yourself (DIY) citizenship’ (Hartley 1999: 154-165, 186-187).

Hartley’s work significantly challenges the ‘tragic’ account of the relationship between media and citizenship in liberal-capitalist societies, developed by critical theorists out of Habermas’s work on the public sphere.1 Its strengths lie in: its focus upon the incidental means through which the media contribute to citizen-formation; its focus upon what people do with media rather than what media do to people; its questioning of a hierarchy of genres in terms of how the media inform the development of citizens; and its rejection of a dichotomy between quality and popular media, or public service and commercial media, from the perspective of how they are used by their audiences. For Hartley, good popular television can be both popular and critical, fun and informative; it does not rest upon the ‘sublimation of pleasure to value’ that Hawkins critiques in the approach taken by ‘quality’ public service broadcasting towards its audience (Hawkins 1999: 177).

79 This thesis, however, distances itself from Hartley’s appraisal of the relationship of media to citizenship in three key respects. First, while recognising the material dimensions of textuality to which Hartley draws attention (Hartley 1999: 55-70), there is also a need to reaffirm the positivity of institutions in terms of their role in constituting a social field, forming individual identities, and providing a basis for political and social agency and meaningful action. This also draws attention to the distinctiveness of institutional formations across societies and over periods of time, and how these constitute the conditions of existence for the types of television programming that are produced and distributed in national television systems. Second, there is the danger of concluding that, since media texts are polysemic and audiences are unknowable to empirical analysis, criticism is impossible. There is a blurring in such an approach between critiques of television as an overall system of popular provision of information and entertainment, which Hartley convincingly argues against, and critique of particular programs and programming strategies, which continues to have validity (cf. Flew 1998). Third, since Hartley blurs distinctions between television’s address to audiences as an over-arching community and its appeal to particular taste constituencies, his analysis faces difficulties in dealing with some of the problems that have motivated the development of non-commercial media, such as the lack of provision of certain program types for economic reasons, as well as factors that have motivated the regulation of commercial media.2

80 Critical media theory has observed the ‘split’ nature of the modern citizen, between a discourse of media freedom that is associated with the global information and entertainment market, and a discourse of cultural citizenship that is typically national in its domain of application, and associated with ‘public interest’ media regulation. Toby Miller has observed that this is less a matter of divided subjectivities, and more to do with a ‘policy divide’ (Miller 1991: 204), whose significance has become more apparent in an era where national forms of media regulation are becoming overlaid with global trade agreements and other forms of international law. A major focus of this thesis will be upon the campaigns of media reformers to use legislative and regulatory mechanisms to transform the conduct of commercial broadcast television in Australia, with one of these aims being to make it more responsive to the discourses and principles of citizenship. In this context, an examination of the impact of media policy reforms becomes not an ‘add-on’ to other forces which determine the conduct on the part of Australian commercial television broadcasters, but moves closer to the centre of an understanding of their modus operandi. In this respect, both the critical media theory tradition and Hartley’s work present too generalised a framework for the detailed empirical work on how citizenship discourses have informed the development of Australian commercial television.

‘Governmentality’ and Citizenship

81 Michel Foucault developed the concept of ‘governmentality’ in his later work to describe the process in modern Western societies where the conduct of the state shifted from rule by primarily juridical means to an increasingly administrative and technical basis for rule. Techniques associated with the practice of government also came to be dispersed through a range of social institutions that were linked to, yet distinct from, the formal apparatuses of the state. In Foucault’s work, the state ‘consists in the codification of a whole number of power relations which render its functioning possible’ (Foucault 1984: 64). An understanding of the practices of government thus requires that these activities of government are understood, not in terms of the institutions that undertake them, but rather in terms of their capacity to guide the conduct of others.

Particularly important in this regard is the development of liberal forms of government from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, which was associated with what Foucault describes as ‘the introduction of economy into political practice’ (Foucault 1991: 92), or what Burchell (1991) terms ‘a principle of costeffectiveness’ into government regulation. Liberal form of government promoted the autonomous functioning of civil and economic processes, by establishing limits to governmental regulation founded around the ‘proper use of liberty’ by self-governing and self-interested individuals. The result was that ‘civil society’ emerged, not as that which is outside of or necessarily opposed to state power, but rather ‘as both the object and end of government’, involved with a complex and shifting set of relationships with state agencies, that provides ‘fertile ground for

82 experimental innovation in the development of political technologies of government’ (Burchell 1991: 141).

Peter Miller and Nikolas Rose (1992) have used Foucault’s approach to power and government to develop an account of the political rationalities and governmental technologies that have informed advanced liberal forms of government. They reject dualities such as those between state and civil society, public and private, coercion and consent, and government and the market, arguing instead that ‘the state possesses neither the unity nor the functionality ascribed to it; it was a “mythical abstraction” which has assumed a particular place within the field of government’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 175). They also reject notions of political power that assume the imposition of constraints upon citizens, in favour of a view of power understood as ‘“making up” citizens capable of bearing a kind of regulated freedom ... the more so because most individuals are not merely the subjects of power but play a part in its operations’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 174). For Miller and Rose, government is primarily a problematising activity, where ‘the ideals of government are intrinsically linked to the problems around which it circulates, the failings it seeks to rectify, the ills it seeks to cure … the history of government might well be written as a history of problematisations … it is around these difficulties and failures that programmes of government have been elaborated’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 181).

83 How governments problematise particular domains, and seek to act upon them through various programs, involves establishing a relationship between political rationalities and governmental technologies. Political rationalities have three characteristics:

1. They have a characteristically moral form, in the manner in which they address the proper distribution of tasks and actions between different types of authorities, and the ideals or principles to which these tasks are related. 2. They are grounded in particular theoretical understandings of chosen domains, drawn from academic bodies of knowledge, with the disciplines of the social sciences being particularly important in defining the social field and rendering it thinkable. 3. They construct problems, and the means of addressing them within particular discursive fields, or political discourses, in ways that ‘elucidate not only the systems of thought through which authorities have posed and specified the problems for government, but also the systems of action through which they have sought to give effect to government’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 177).

Miller and Rose use the term technologies of government to broadly define the diverse range of techniques, procedures, calculations, surveys, systems, designs and vocabularies, deployed across a heterogeneous array of sites and

84 through a broad series of domains, that enable ‘the decisions and actions of individuals, groups, organisations and populations … to be understood and regulated in relation to authoritative criteria’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 177). What programs of government, understood as a combination of political rationalities with technologies of government, enable is influence over the conduct of citizens through action at a distance. Following Foucault, Miller and Rose observe that modern liberal forms of government are not characterised by the relentless expansion of state powers and capacities; rather, state agencies ‘identify a domain outside “politics”, and seek to manage it without destroying its existence and its autonomy’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 177). Central to such a mode of government is the role played by experts and expertise, who enter into a ‘double alliance’ with political authorities on the one hand, for whom they problematise new issues and translate political concerns into governmental programs, and individuals and groups on the other, for whom they provide the techniques and forms of assistance aimed to enable them to achieve greater personal satisfaction and overcome material deprivation (Johnson 1993).

Governmentality, Citizenship and the Political Sphere

The theory of governmentality provides the basis for important insights into the relationship between administrative and policy practices at the level of particular issues, institutions or ‘problematics’, and larger political rationalities and social relationships. At the same time, three problems emerge for the theory of

85 governmentality as applied in modern liberal democracies. First, there is the paradox of political power being exercised over free citizens in the name of their own popular sovereignty. One instance of this is what Foucault described as the ‘welfare state problem’, which is ‘one of the extremely numerous reappearances of the tricky adjustment between political power wielded over legal subjects and pastoral power wielded over live individuals’ (Foucault 1988: 67). The paradox of governmental power being exercised over individual citizens in their own interest, but without their consent, was also observed by Max Weber in his famous comment that ‘“democracy” as such is opposed to the “rule” of bureaucracy, in spite and perhaps because of its unavoidable yet unintended promotion of bureaucratisation’ (Weber 1922: 990).

Foucault’s own response to this problem was far from consistent. He described modern forms of state power as ‘demonic’ when they combined techniques of pastoral power with the question of ‘reason of state’, arguing instead that ‘liberation can only come from attacking ... political rationality’s very roots’ (Foucault 1988: 85). The problem with this argument, which draws upon Nietzsche’s claim that ‘there is nothing more harmful to freedom than liberal institutions’ (quoted in Hindess 1997: 267), is that it rests upon an antinomy between power and freedom that Foucault’s genealogy of the modern subject, as a social agent which has been formed under the sign of various productive regimes of power, has rendered untenable (cf. Minson 1980; Wickham 1983; Minson 1986). Hindess (1996) notes that such a sweeping condemnation of domination in

86 the name of liberty loses sight of the complex links between the acquisition of capabilities and the growth of autonomy that has characterised the experience of subjectivity under the various techniques of power in modern Western societies. Hunt and Wickham (1994) draw attention to a similar contradiction in Foucault’s critique of law in modern societies, on the grounds of Foucault’s argument that the principal forms of power in modernity are essentially non-legal, found in the disciplines and in governmental practice. As a result, according to Hunt and Wickham, Foucault finds struggles over legal rights and legal regulation, characteristic of modern democratic politics, to be based upon an ideological misrecognition of their object, since power and control actually operate in a more disciplinary, capillary and subterranean level than this surface level of democratic and legal rights (Hunt and Wickham 1994: 41-52; 59-61). Hunt and Wickham argue that this account rests upon a caricature of the significance of democratic or representative institutions, forms of participation in governmental processes and the implications of extended citizenship rights, providing instead a one-sided interpretation that ignores ‘the extent to which the new forms of disciplinary power have already or can potentially become subject to processes of legal rights and legal regulation’ (Hunt and Wickham 1994: 62).










governmentality and citizenship is the nature of failure as an inevitable aspect of governance. Malpas and Wickham argue that practices of governance can only ever involve a ‘partial appropriation of things’, and that they must therefore

87 involve instances of failure, since failure ‘marks precisely the limit of governing practice and not something that lies within its boundaries’ (Malpas and Wickham 1997: 94). Miller and Rose reach a similar conclusion when they observe that government is not a ‘perfect regulatory machine’, but rather a ‘congenitally failing operation’, where the ‘will to govern’ is ‘fuelled by the constant registration of “failure”, the discrepancy between ambition and outcome, and the constant injunction to do better next time’ (Miller and Rose 1992: 191). O’Malley, Weir and Shearing (1997) have argued that such approaches to policy failure, while valid, downplay the significance of political contestation in favour of a stress upon programmatic failure. They propose instead that governmentality literature needs to focus more upon political contestation as a limit to programmes of government, given the ‘abundant evidence that contestations, resistances and social antagonisms shape rule through systematic provision of alternatives’ (O’Malley, Weir and Shearing 1997: 510).

Third, there is a tension between governance and citizenship, or between rule through expertise and popular sovereignty. Barry Hindess notes that, as a consequence of the principle in liberal-democratic societies that there is no natural or essential basis for the subjection of the majority of the governed population to rule by a small minority, government ‘has no source of legitimacy outside its own effectiveness’ (Hindess 1997: 261). The tensions between formal empowerment of populations in liberal-democratic societies through citizenship, and their substantive subordination to state authority through practices of governance, lead

88 to what has been termed a citizenship gap. The development of institutional frameworks that enable extended participation in decision-making processes has frequently been presented as the best means of resolving this citizenship gap. Hall and Held capture this tradition when they observe that ‘rights can be mere paper claims unless they are practically enacted and realised, through actual participation in the community’ (Hall and Held 1989: 175). This understanding of degrees of democracy based upon the scope for participation can be found in the of a ‘ladder of participation’ from administrative tokenism to genuine participatory democracy (Minson 1986), and in the concept of ‘strong democracy’ as a stage beyond representative democracy, where citizenship is realised in its fullness through what Benjamin Barber describes as ‘a self-sustaining dialectic of participatory civic activity and continuous community-building in which freedom and equality are nourished and given political being’ (Barber 1984: 152).

The connections drawn between political participation and active citizenship typically revolve around three sets of arguments (Richardson 1983). First, there is the developmental argument, which focuses upon the political skills acquired by individuals through participation, as part of realising their full potential as citizens. Second, there is the fairness argument, focusing upon the rights of individuals to be involved in the making of decisions that affect them. Third, there is the instrumental argument for participation as producing better outcomes as a result of a wider consideration of interests and broader process of public

89 involvement. Mark Considine draws links between the normative goal of maximising participation and processes of policy formation in his argument that:

Policy always involves a dual structure. It has an instrumental dimension in that it produces decisions, programs and other outcomes which actors value. It also has a set of developmental relationships in the way it allows for the communication of moral and ethical norms, and the building of trust and solidarity between actors ... Participation describes three types of action: it facilitates rational deliberation; it creates and communicates moral principles; and it expresses personal and group affects and needs. When all three forms of action are available, then participation provides a means for the creation of social capital from which all central democratic objectives spring. (Considine 1994: 130)

It would indeed be a happy combination of outcomes if the extension of participation not only gave citizenship a revitalised and more active form, but led to better policy outcomes than those derived from administrative and technical expertise. Two problems keep emerging, however, in attempts to transpose the ‘abstract’ arguments for participation into practices that can be transposed into areas of policy formation and governance. First, there is the need to clarify the goals of participation, and to recognise links between forms of participation and the likelihood of effective outcomes, recognising that participatory structures do not themselves lead to positive outcomes from the decision-making process. Kate

90 Harrison has noted that a recurrent problem has been that participation was frequently given ‘motherhood status’, and ‘the advantages of participation were frequently listed and asserted, often without any attempt to define precisely what was meant by participation, and without due consideration of the negative features of increased participation’ (Harrison 1986: 94). Second, the equation of political participation with active citizenship is frequently based upon the presumption that the subject of participation is an individual citizen. Rorty (1988) has noted that, in actual participatory processes, the subject of policy participation is often less likely to be an individual person, but rather an agent acting as a representative for a group of people, a legally defined subject such as a corporation, or some other category not reducible to an individual citizen. Recognition that political participation is commonly based upon collective forms of organisation raises issues about the relationship between citizenship and participation. In discussing the centrality of organised interest groups to processes of policy participation, Paul Hirst notes that ‘organised interests cut across the common civic sphere … Organised interests are influential to the extent that they achieve their own ends, which are different from a notion of the collective sovereignty or common political will of all citizens’. (Hirst 1990: 164-165)

Consideration of a ‘participation gap’ in relation to broadcast media and citizenship presents two threshold questions in relation to media policy. The first is the question of whether the public as citizens have entitlements to be involved in decisions concerning broadcast media content, as part of the ‘public trust’

91 obligations of broadcast licensees. The second issue is how such participation can be organised. If theorists such as Rorty, Hirst and Hindess are correct to observe that active citizenship and policy participation is more likely to occur through organised interest groups than through the actions of individuals, then what are the conditions under which an organisation or interest group can claim to ‘speak for’ an audience or sections of it? The emergence of such interest groups in the broadcast media sphere, and how they have negotiated interfaces between the broadcast institutions, the policy process and the wider interests of the Australian community will be explored in the second part of this thesis.

National Citizenship and National Culture

The literature on citizenship in political theory tends to stress its politically egalitarian dimensions, where full democratic citizenship is an end-state of the ‘democratic imaginary’ unleashed by the French and American Revolutions of the eighteenth century (Laclau and Mouffe 1985). Yet the formulation

‘nation=state=people’, which has been so central to revolutionary discourses of citizenship, has also been central to discourses of nationalism, and the notion that citizenship is derived from a sense of belonging derived from affiliation to a national ‘common culture’. It is insufficient to conceive of citizenship purely in terms of an inclusive and egalitarian discourse of rights since, as Barry Hindess has observed, citizenship has also always been defined not only in terms of reciprocal obligations to the nation-state, and through various forms of exclusion

92 of those deemed to be ‘non-citizens’. The various ways in which citizens are differentiated from non-citizens, through access to civil, political and social rights and resources, have developed ‘against the background of a conception of community in which the unity of a self-governing polity is expected to correspond to the unity of a national culture’ (Hindess 1993: 39).

Ernest Gellner has defined nationalism as ‘primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent’ (Gellner 1983: 1). Eric Hobsbawm has also drawn attention to the political dimension of nationalism, claiming that:

The primary meaning of “nation” ... was political. It equated “the people” and the state in the manner of the American and French Revolutions... The “nation” so considered, was the body of citizens whose collective sovereignty constituted them a state which was their political expression. For, whatever else a nation was, the element of citizenship and mass participation or choice was never absent from it. (Hobsbawm 1990: 18-19)

Yet the political element of nationalism, as a principle of citizenship tending toward universalism, has also coexisted with its cultural element, which stresses the particularities and commonalities of the ‘people’ of a nation, in relation both to each other and to those outside of that collectivity. While such claims to cultural uniqueness on the part of nationalist movements have been treated with

93 suspicion since they were first proposed,3 the inculcation of a ‘common culture’ is central to the promotion of nationalism in the development of modern nationstates, through national mass educational and cultural institutions.

John Hutchinson (1994) has argued that both Gellner and Hobsbawm subordinate culture to politics in their accounts of nationalism, in a manner characteristic of modernist intellectuals who approach nationalism as essentially a political phenomenon, likely to decline over time as societies become more secular, rational and cosmopolitan. Stuart Hall makes a similar observation about the assumption that nationalism, like other ‘particularistic’ attachments, would wither away over time:

The great discourses of modernity - in this respect Marxism no less than liberalism, both in their different ways, Enlightenment ‘grand narratives’ led us to expect, not the revival but the gradual disappearance of the nationalist passion. Attachments to nation, like those of tribe, region, place, religion, were thought to be archaic particularisms which capitalist modernity would, gradually or violently, dissolve or supercede. (Hall 1993: 353)

The cosmopolitan vision of a common humanity, united by a shared belief in equality and rationality, has always been implicit in the philosophies underpinning citizenship (Heater 1990). Visions of a citizenship that transcends

94 nationhood have crossed political boundaries, from liberal hopes for world government or a ‘global village’ united by communications technologies, to Marxist visions of international working-class solidarity, to the dialectic of localism and globalism presented as a strategic vision for political action by the feminist, environmentalist, peace and other social movements. Such

cosmopolitanism emerges in contemporary cultural studies, sociology and related fields, and is related to a belief that the nation-state is in irrevocable decline as a result of economic globalisation, global communications flows, transnational movements of people and cultural forms and practices, and a resulting set of cultural transformations which have been termed ‘postmodernism’ (cf. Robbins 1998; Cheah 1998). Lata Mani has argued that trends in the global cultural economy ‘confound, complicate, and increasingly render irrelevant earlier mappings of the world, whether in terms of binary divisions or discrete units’, and will in turn ‘offer hospitality, if not centrality, to practitioners of postmodern, postcolonial, transnational historiography and ethnography, and provide a location where the new politics of difference - racial, sexual, cultural, transnational - can combine and be articulated in all their dazzling plurality’ (Mani 1992: 392). Similarly, in the Australian context, Andrew Milner has argued that economic globalisation and postmodernity have ‘rapidly reduced to redundancy all cultural nationalisms’, thereby creating the conditions for a ‘post-national’ cultural studies that can ‘render this actually existing transnational postmodernity

comprehensible, and thereby hopefully changeable’ (Milner 1991: 110).

95 Such a ‘cosmopolitan’ sense of belonging to the world rather than to a particular nation has always been a minority sentiment, coming more easily to particular class formations than others, by virtue of factors such as their work patterns (Heater 1990: 188). Immanuel Wallerstein has noted that ‘world culture, the humanism of many sages, has long been advocated on the grounds that it permits one to overcome the provincialism - hence the limitations to moral growth, and the obscurantism - of cultural particularisms’ (Wallerstein 1990: 103). Wallerstein is sceptical of such arguments, noting that in spite of the longstanding ideal of world culture and global citizenship, world history has not been characterised by cultural homogenisation, but has ‘rather been a trend towards cultural differentiation, or cultural elaboration, or cultural complexity’, and where there have been ‘gravitational forces restraining the centrifugal tendencies and organising them … [and] the single, most powerful such gravitational force has been the nation-state’ (Wallerstein 1990: 96).

Cultural Technologies of Nationhood: Print, Broadcasting and National Identity

The concept of cultural technologies has become an increasingly important one in media, communications and cultural studies.4 Drawing upon the work of anthropologist and media theorist Eric Michaels, Tom O’Regan argues that understanding television as a cultural technology is ‘to see it as a site holding

96 together diverse though interconnected projects’, including textual, ethnographic and institutional modes of analysis (O’Regan 1990: 54). Similarly, Jody Berland has proposed that ‘cultural technologies produce not only content and thus something called ideology, to be negotiated by already-located viewers, but also material practices with their own structural effects and tensions’ (Berland 1992: 39, 41). In an analysis of newspapers and national identity in relation to Australia’s 1988 ‘Bicentenary’ of European settlement, Colin Mercer has proposed that ‘the newspaper in its historical development is a cultural technology which … enables a national imaginary to be transacted’ (Mercer 1992: 74).

In perhaps the most famous application of media as cultural technologies to the emergence of modern nationalism, Benedict Anderson (1991) has linked the rise of a market in the products of the printed word, or what he terms printcapitalism, to the rise of the modern nation-state, arguing that ‘the convergence of capitalism and print technology on the fatal diversity of human language created the possibility of a new form of imagined community, which in its basic morphology set the stage for the modern nation’ (Anderson 1991: 46). For Anderson, this linkage of print media and modern nationalism emerged in three key respects: the development of ‘vernacular’ languages of trade and communication that was linked to growth in the international book trade; the way that print technology gave a new fixity to language, as ‘the printed book kept a permanent form, capable of virtually infinite reproduction, temporally and

97 spatially’ (Anderson 1991: 44); and the emergence of languages of administration and power with the codification of laws and rules under modern forms of governance.

Anderson understands the nation as ‘an imagined political community’ (Anderson 1991: 6), and proposes that the symbolic dimension of nationalism as a series of ‘myths’ grounded in representations and everyday practices becomes crucial in extending the boundaries of community, promoting a symbolic unification through common allegiance to a ‘deep, horizontal citizenship’ that seeks to transcend divisions within the nation-state. Through the modern nationstate, policies are developed that are self-consciously directed towards cultural integration, including language policy, formal education, collective rituals such as national events, public exhibitions of ‘high’ culture in art galleries and museums, and the mass media. Anderson’s emphasis upon the role of print media as a cultural technology of national cultural integration is parallelled in Tony Bennett’s work on museums as cultural technologies of ‘nationing’, where ‘constructions of the nation’s past and projections of its future destiny … are embodied in museums and natural heritage sites’ (Bennett 1995: 142).

While an important feature of Anderson’s account of the rise of nations and nationalism is the explicit attention given to mass communications media as a bridge linking political nationalism and systems of governance to cultural nationalism and its links to everyday life, Anderson limits his analysis to print

98 media forms. Philip Schlesinger has pointed out that Anderson ‘does not push the argument further to take account of later, post-Gutenberg media technologies, and to try and examine their implications for the consciousness of nationhood’ (Schlesinger 1991a: 164). The issue is not simply one of choice of medium to research, since a characteristic feature of twentieth century nations and nationalism is the uncoupling of space and time in global communications, as ‘distance has been eclipsed by proliferating networks of electronic

communication’ (Thompson 1995: 149). Communications historians such as Innis (1951), Meyrowitz (1985) and Carey (1992) have observed that, while print culture was associated with the rise of nationalism, as it promoted continuity over time, decentralisation and regional differentiation, broadcast media were spacebinding, promoting centralisation of production, decentralisation of dissemination, and the need for continuity and instantaneity, and oriented toward international distribution.5

Globalisation, Nation-States and National Cultures

Globalisation has been defined as a series of interrelated trends that include: the internationalisation of production, trade and finance; international movements of people, as immigrants, guest workers, refugees, tourists, students and expert advisers; international communications flows, delivered through technologies such as broadband cable, satellite and the Internet; the global circulation of ideas, ideologies and ‘keywords’; the development of international organisations, including regional trading blocs, cultural, professional and standards bodies, and

99 non-government organisations (NGOs); and the growing significance of international law to national policies. In relation to communications media, it has been argued that one implication of media globalisation is that ‘audiovisual geographies are … becoming detached from the symbolic spaces of national culture’ (Morley and Robins 1995: 11). Such arguments are associated with wider claims that globalisation has triggered an uncoupling of culture and polity in contemporary nation-states. One example of such claims is Arjun Appadurai’s argument that contemporary global economic and cultural flows have generated ‘fundamental disjunctures between economy, culture and politics’, and that global ‘mediascapes’ produce ‘imagined worlds’ that are increasingly disjunctive to their lived experience of their audiences in particular places and dominant cultures (Appadurai 1990: 296, 299). Similarly, John Urry identifies the growing global access to mass communications forms such as broadcast media with globalising processes which ‘undermine the coherence, wholeness and unity of individual societies’ (Urry 1989: 97).

Since a defining feature of nationalism is ‘the striving to make culture and polity congruent, to endow a culture with its own political roof, and not more than one roof at that’ (Gellner 1983: 43), such developments would point to the declining influence of nation-states, as they are no longer to maintain distinctive national cultures which unify their population. For Appadurai, these global mediascapes are part of the ‘cultural politics that have subverted the hyphen that links the nation to the state’, which in turn generate distinctive forms of

100 ‘deterritorialised’ cultural identity and associated strategies of ‘micropolitics’ (Appadurai 1990: 304-308). Similarly, Urry sees the ‘disorganising’ of modern nation-states as arising from the simultaneous processes ‘of globalisation from above, of decentralisation from below, and of disintegration from within’ (Urry 1989: 101).

The globalisation thesis points to some of the critical dimensions of international cultural and economic flows in the 1980s and 1990s. Nonetheless, ‘strong’ globalisation theories have typically possessed two abiding problems. First, while their empirical basis is superficially plausible, it is in fact relatively weak when evaluated in a historical perspective, or when the scale of international markets is compared to those of national markets. This point is made forcefully by Hirst and Thompson (1996), who argue that globalisation arguments are superficial in their use of evidence, lack historical depth and greatly underestimate the continuing significance of nation-states in regulation and governance of the international economy. They argue that economic globalisation is not a historically unique experience of the post-1960s era, and the world economy was more open in the 1870-1914 period, with volumes of trade, capital flows and levels of international migration being higher then than now. Linda Weiss (1997) has developed a similar critique in the East Asian context, arguing that ‘“globalisation” must be seen as a politically rather than a technologically induced phenomenon’ (Weiss 1997: 23). Second, the thesis draws too heavily upon the particular experience of the nation-states of Western Europe, and the central

101 premise that once-strong and unified nation-states are being dispersed or disorganised by globalising and decentring tendencies does not work when applied to the majority of nation-states outside the metropolitan centres of Western Europe. A related point is that much debate about the so-called ‘globallocal dialectic’, and the associated decline in significance of the national level of political and cultural engagement, has been animated by the implications of greater European economic and political integration, and that the implications of these developments for nation-states outside of Europe have to be approached carefully. The ‘deterritorialising’ trends identified by Morley and Robins do not seem as unique in countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada since, for these countries, ‘limited and shared sovereignty is nothing new’ (O’Regan 1993: 101). In such countries, the issue for media policy that seeks to regulate international flows has often had less to do with communicative boundary maintenance, to use Philip Schlesinger’s phrase, and more to do with the establishment of national cultural infrastructures that can be developed and nurtured in an audiovisual environment that is highly permeable to imported content.

The construction of dichotomies between media globalisation and national media cultures is therefore mistaken. While studies affirm the centrality of the United States to the world audiovisual trade, accounting for 70 per cent of total audiovisual exports, it is also the case that most of the world’s television product remains local, both in terms of not being broadcast outside of its home country

102 and in its textual style and mode of address. Broadcast media have always been implicated in global communications and cultural flows, yet, paradoxically, television has not ‘always been international, both culturally and economically,’ as cinema has been described (Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, quoted in O’Regan 1996: 48), due to the strength of national public broadcasters, national regulatory systems, and audience preferences for locally produced material in most countries. The complex relationship between economic and technological forces that promote imported programming, and political and cultural (including linguistic) factors which promote local content, results in considerable unevenness in the degree of penetration of overseas programming in national television systems. As a result, ‘hybrid’ program forms often emerge which negotiate local, national and international cultural markets, such as the local production and international trade in program formats, or what Moran (1998) terms ‘copycat TV’. Moreover, sustained exposure to overseas television programming is frequently the trigger for strengthening national production systems, whether through protectionist cultural policies of le defi Americain (Schlesinger 1991), development of ‘cosmopolitan’ program formats which ‘play at being American’ (Caughie 1990), or the fashioning of ‘national champions’ which can compete in definable global audiovisual markets, such as the ‘soaps’ and telenovellas exported from countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Australia to particular Portuguese, Spanish and English language audiences (Sinclair et. al. 1996).

103 As cultural industries, audiovisual media content continues to bear the markers of the national cultures it came from, and international trade in broadcast media occurs ‘on the basis of the irreducibly cultural relationships that are established between certain types of program and the audiences for whom they are meaningful’ (Sinclair 1996: 55). It is also apparent that nation-states and public policy have an ongoing significance in regulating the relationships between global flows and their local impacts within the national community, that includes positive initiatives to develop a national cultural infrastructure as well as controls over cross-border media flows. It is also important to bear in mind that the notion of strong citizenship, where national institutional structures have sought to tightly bind national citizens to the state through transmission of a common language, culture and national identity, may be more historically and geographically specific than is allowed for by those discourses arising from the ‘strong’ nation-states of Western Europe, and may not be so applicable to the majority of the world’s population, who live in countries where weaker notions of national citizenship and cultural sovereignty have been the norm (Collins 1990; Castles 1997; Davidson 1997a, 1997b).


Citizenship provides an important link between media as culture and the development of institutional regulatory forms and policy frameworks. The paradox of citizenship in liberal democracies, where free subjects are required to

104 consent to their institutional governance as populations, means that there is an ongoing tension between rule through expertise and popular sovereignty. This is connected to an ongoing debate about the extent to which ‘active citizenship’ should be promoted, where citizens actively participate in the institutional structures of governance. In relation to an area such as media, such questions are unavoidably connected to the degree to which commercial media forms and market relations are held to be sufficient to meet the needs and interests of diverse populations, or whether activist forms of media policy and regulation are a necessary corrective to the limitations of the market. This chapter has sought to question both overly sanguine accounts of commercial media found in liberal media theory, and the ‘tragic’ accounts of critical media theory, to instead address media policy as integral to the conditions of existence and modes of operation of commercial broadcast media, thereby constituting a significant site of negotiation and political contestation.

The question of national citizenship, and its relationship to national culture, is also an important animator of media policy. Media have operated as sites of citizen-formation and the development of national and cultural identities, and the relationship between broadcasting as a potentially global cultural technology and national cultures is a complex and contested one. This is seen in debates about globalisation, which have, nonetheless, been one-sided, in their tendency to assume strong nation-states and relatively homogeneous national cultures existing prior to the impact of global media such as broadcasting. If it is

105 the case, as Richard Collins has argued, that ‘relatively few actual states … fit the theoretical model … where a “nation”, bound together by shared ethnicity, language, religion, stable frontiers, and economic interest, is politically sovereign in its own state’ (Collins 1990: 18), then it may follow that the apparent ‘newness’ of globalisation, and concerns about the capacity of globalisation to weaken bonds between culture and polity, may not apply particularly well to the states in which the majority of the world’s population live. If this is the case, then the model of ‘weak’ national citizenship and an uncertain degree of national cultural sovereignty, found in nations such as Australia, Canada and Brazil, may indeed provide a template for the development of national cultural policy and its articulation to cultural citizenship worldwide.

Habermas’s work on the public sphere was based around the printed word, and can only be extended to broadcast media with some difficulty. Indeed, as Collins has noted, Habermas was hostile to film, radio and television, arguing in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1989: 171) that: ‘In contrast with printed communications the programs sent by the new media [radio, film and television] curtail the recipients in a peculiar way. They draw the eyes and ears of the public under their spell but ... deprive it of the opportunity to say something and to disagree.’ (quoted in Collins 1993: 248). An argument can be made for public broadcasting that is not based upon claims about quality, but rather concerns the tendency for commercial media to undersupply particular areas of broadcast programming with strong ‘public good’ elements, such as public affairs programming, critical and investigative forms of news and current affairs and documentary, and children’s programming (Herman 1997). This shifts the focus away from defending public broadcasting on the basis of value criteria, towards the notion of maximising programming diversity within a broadcast media system (cf. Flew 1994). 3 One of the most famous rebuttals of the cultural uniqueness of nations was Ernest Renan’s (1882) account of how the modern European nation was not founded upon dynastic continuity, racial homogeneity, linguistic unity, a common religion or geographical limits. Instead, Renan argued that the origins of the modern European nation were historically contingent, and that the conditions for a nation-state’s continuing existence had to be continuously reproduced and reinvented, in order to win the consent of its people: ‘a nation’s existence is ... a daily plebiscite’ (Renan 1882, in Bhabha 1990: 11, 12, 19). 4 See Flew (1996) for a more detailed discussion of the concept and its applications. That paper draws attention to five influences upon the concept: philosophies of technology as developed by Karl Marx and Martin Heidegger; psychoanalytic film theory; ‘social shaping of technology’ arguments, particularly Raymond Williams’ account of television as ‘technology and cultural form’; Canadian communications theory as developed by Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan; and post-Foucaultian cultural histories developed by Ian Hunter and Tony Bennett. 5 It is important to note that such developments do not necessarily negate nationalism as a political force, but rather promote the circulation of ideas outside of defined territorial boundaries. Harold Innis drew attention to this in considering the significance of radio to the territorial ambitions of the Nazis in the 1930s: In Europe an appeal to the ear made it possible to destroy the results of the Treaty of Versailles as registered in the political map based on self-determination. The rise of Hitler to power was facilitated by the use of the loud speaker and the radio. By the spoken language he could appeal to minority groups and to minority nations. Germans in Czechoslovakia could be reached by radio, as could Germans in Austria. Political boundaries related to the demands of the printing press disappeared with the new instruments of communication. The spoken language provided a base for the exploitation of nationalism and a far more effective device for appealing to larger numbers. Illiteracy was no longer a serious barrier. (Innis 1951: 81)


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