The Media Commons and Social Movements : Grassroots Mediations Against Neoliberal Politics book cover
1st Edition

The Media Commons and Social Movements
Grassroots Mediations Against Neoliberal Politics

ISBN 9780367664763
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

What does it mean to have a voice in a formal democracy operating under neoliberal guidelines and with an almost entirely private media system? How can the people gain their voice and engage in a dialogue with hegemonic actors and discourses?

In this book, Jorge Saavedra Utman examines the role of media and communicative practices during one of the largest social mobilizations in Latin America in the last 30 years: Chile’s 2011 students’ movement. Saavedra Utman observes the eye-catching, subversive, but also intimate practices that, in a country with a liberal democracy and neoliberal policies, allowed people to speak up and become political actors from grassroots positions. Presenting rich qualitative data that is sourced from interviews and focus groups with activists, he introduces a fresh perspective on the study of media and communications and social movements. Saavedra Utman paints a clearer picture of contentious events since 2011 - like the Arab Spring and Occupy – to understand the relevance of media and communications in contemporary quests for participation and democracy.

Promising to be an important book, The Media Commons and Social Movements represents a significant contribution to our understanding of communicative dimensions of protest and social change.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Chile, 2011, and the Students’ Movement  1. The Struggle for Voice in Times of Democracy and Neoliberalism  2. The People and Their Eviction from Public Space  3. Knitting the Commons: Whispers and Trust in Walled Intimacy  4. Embodying the Commons: Occupying the Urban Realm  5. Imagining the Commons: Articulating ‘Us’ in Mainstream Media  6. Bursting the Commons: Internet and The Short Life of Solidarity  7. Conclusion: The Communicative (And Political) Quest for A Meaningful Democracy

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Jorge Saavedra Utman is Lecturer in the Sociology of Media and Culture at the University of Cambridge.


‘Jorge Saavedra’s new book will disrupt and delight in equal measure. A cornucopia of politics, theory, and the everyday, The Media Commons and Social Movements makes us think again about pressing topics of the day—freedom and democracy as constructed and experienced from below.’

Toby Miller, Universidad del Norte

‘Set in the conceptual framework of the Commons this book takes us on a fascinating journey through the Chilean Students Movement and its mediations. It shows us the struggle for voice, the necessity of coming together in public spaces, the importance of relationality for networks of trust and what it means to build a meaningful democratic commons. Rich in detail, evocative in its politics and inspiring in its vision - here is a book that opens up a new way of contesting the media and communicative realities of our neoliberal times. Highly recommended reading for all those interested in thinking through what democracy could become and how we get there.

Natalie Fenton, Professor of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘Focusing on the 2011 student mobilisations in Chile, this is an important book that offers a fresh perspective in the analysis of contemporary social movements. Saavedra examines the Chilean student mobilisation within the context of the 2011 protest wave and as a manifestation of the ascendant ideology of the commons. As he aptly demonstrates in this book, the central goal of this movement, the largest in Chile since the recovery of democracy in 1990, was the construction of a life in common as opposed to the neoliberal enclosure of education, of the media and of politics in general. Based on detailed empirical evidence, this is a necessary, important and timely book.’

Anastasia Kavada, Reader, University of Westminster