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Political Power and Political Economy of Media: Nicaragua and Bolivia

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For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

The apparent democratic shift unfolding in Latin America, from Venezuela and Bolivia to Ecuador and Nicaragua has been quite uneven. Public access to media provides one measurement of the extent to which social movements have been able to alter the relations of power. In nations where working classes, indigenous peoples, women, youth, and diverse ethnic groups have mobilized and organized constituent assemblies and other social and political organizations, political economies of radical democratic media have been introduced, communicating other progressive national policies for a new cultural hegemony of solidarity. Moments of rupture caused by social movements have introduced new social and political norms challenging capitalist cultural hegemony across the continent, with deep connections between media communication and social power revealed in every case. Public access to media production and distribution is a key indicator of democratic citizen participation and social transformation. Those societies that have advanced the farthest towards 21st century socialism and participatory democracy have also established the most extensive democratic and participatory media systems. These media reach far beyond community and alternative media forms to become central to an emerging hegemonic discourse advocating social transformation and working class power. Community media in Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador demonstrate how radical political power can encourage mass working class participation, including acquiring and using mass communication for social change and social justice.

Affiliations: 1: Purdue University Calumet


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