The Erosion of Civil Society in a Shifting Communication Ecology Symposium | Thursday, February 27, 2020
These crises to democratic societies flow through the delegitimation of major social institutions, much of which occurs in civil society: the layer of everyday life in which individuals encounter one another—in groups, communities, organizations, at work, through media—to build trust and mediate differences.
Our symposium brings together scholars from around the globe to consider democratic fracture and its relationship to the contemporary communication ecology using a range of methodological approaches.
(1) How has growing polarization and fragmentation in the media ecology, as reflected in partisan media, broadcast content, political advertising and social media, contributed to ideological and partisan political divides within and across political, social, and geographic sub-clusters?
(2) Under what conditions does the flow of information in the media ecology encourage citizens across the ideological spectrum to retrench into increasingly homogeneous sub-clusters that amplify highly partisan messages of party leaders and political pundits?
Lucas Graves - Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass CommunicationOne of the hazards of academic research is getting caught up in highly specialized conversations and losing sight of the bigger picture. The Fracturing Democracy conference offered a rare chance to step back and consider the underlying questions about our changing media system and democratic governance that drive rigorous communications research — and a reminder of why those questions are more urgent today than ever.
Josephine Lukito - Doctoral Candidate, School of Journalism and Mass CommunicationThe conference helped me make sense of how news media and digital communication platforms, especially social media, interact. It encouraged me to think more about information and structural asymmetry in my own research on disinformation and misinformation through linguistic communication.
The conference was a showcase for the value of investigating one particular case in depth while placing it in a broader regional, national, and international context: Wisconsin sheds light on some of the most pressing political challenges across the world today.Nils Ringe - Professor and Jean Monnet Chair, Department of Political Science Director, Center for European Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison
In a time of such fracture, I was grateful for research that shows citizens our ways forward together.KATHLEEN BARTZEN CULVER - JAMES E. BURGESS CHAIR IN JOURNALISM ETHICS DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR JOURNALISM ETHICS
A timely convergence of relevant scholarship that provides evidence of an emerging centrifugal media system that enables fragmentation, and more importantly, what can be done about it.HERNANDO ROJAS - HELEN FIRSTBROOK FRANKLIN PROFESSOR SJMC, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MADISON