Dangerous practices: 'Determinism of technique' in alternative media and their literature

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This article critiques largely unexamined assumptions within activist and academic theory and practice of alternative media. It is argued that there is a tendency within this field to practice what might be called 'determinism of technique' where certain strategies and tactics are assumed to result in emancipatory outcomes. The essay first examines the 'politics of truth', the assumption that wider access to marginalized or excluded content, or innovative styles and formats, will activate alternative media audiences for democratic political struggle. Next the article discusses the 'politics of participation'. The assumption here is that participatory forms of alternative media production and organization are necessarily tied to democratic politics. Finally, the later work of Foucault is adapted to suggest that, because particular strategies and tactics are always contingently articulated to specific relations of power, more caution should be exercised regarding the power effects these modes of political struggle will have.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/mcp.7.1.21_1

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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