Institute of Advanced Studies

Research Seminar: Media And Illiberal Democracy In Central And Eastern Europe

Date: 10 November 2017
Time: 09:00-16:30
Location: Hazlerigg Building

About this event

9:00 Arrivals & coffee

9:15 Invitation & welcome from David Deacon (Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies, Lougborough), John Downey (Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture Loughborough) & Vaclav Stetka (Department of Social Sciences / CRCC, Loughborough)

9:30 Opening remarks: András Bozoki (Central European University)

9:50 Panel 1: CEE democracy in uncharted waters: searching for a new conceptual framework

Panel Chair: Sabina Mihelj (Loughborough University)


Aleks Szczerbiak (University of Sussex): “Is Poland really becoming an illiberal democracy?”

Aleks Szczerbiak is Professor of Politics and Contemporary European Studies at the University of Sussex. He is author of 'Poles Together? The Emergence and Development of Political Parties in Post-communist Poland' (Central European University Press, 2001), 'Poland Within the European Union: New Awkward Partner or New Heart of Europe?' (Routledge, 2011) and 'Politicising the Communist Past: The Politics of Truth Revelation in Post-Communist Poland' (Routledge, forthcoming 2018). He blogs regularly on contemporary Polish political developments at:

Marius Dragomir (Central European University): “Illiberal Democracy and Media Capture”

Marius Dragomir is the Director of the Center for Media, Data and Society. He previously worked for the Open Society Foundations (OSF) for over a decade. Since 2007, he has managed the research and policy portfolio of the Program on Independent Journalism (PIJ), formerly the Network Media Program (NMP), in London. He has also been one of the main editors for PIJ's flagship research and advocacy project, Mapping Digital Media, which covered 56 countries worldwide, and he was the main writer and editor of OSF’s Television Across Europe, a comparative study of broadcast policies in 20 European countries.

Marius has spent the past decade in the media research field, specializing in media and communication regulation, digital media, governing structures of public service media and broadcasting, spectrum management, and ownership regulation. He has authored expert studies and articles on journalism and media policies that have been published and translated in more than 60 countries.

He started his career as a journalist some 25 years ago in his native Romania where he worked for several local dailies, radio, and TV stations. Since 1999, he has been working for English-language media. Last year, with a group of journalists and researchers, he co-founded, a community of experts in media policy covering trends in regulation, business, and politics that influence journalism.

11:00 Coffee break

11:15 Panel 2: Democratic backsliding in the Visegrad region

Panel Chair: Václav Štětka (Loughborough University)


Seán Hanley (University College London): “Route B to backsliding? What the technocratic populism of Andrej Babiš in Czechia tells us about patterns of democratic erosion in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Seán Hanley is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Central and Eastern European Politics at University College London. His research interests include party government and its alternatives, the rise of anti-establishment parties, and democratic backsliding in Central Europe. He has a special interest in Czech politics and is author of The New Right in the New Europe: Czech Transformation and Right-Wing Politics (Routledge, 2007).

Nikola Belakova (LSE): The exceptional case of Slovakia: “From illiberal democracy to an unlikely ‘pro-European island in the region’?”

Nikola Belakova is a PhD researcher in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In her research Nikola investigates the operation of civil defamation law in cases against the media from the stakeholders’ perspective and the extent of its influence on the journalistic practices in Slovakia, including potential chilling effect(s). Nikola holds an M.Phil in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oxford. Nikola has been involved in the work of the Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe project where she co-authored a report on media policy adoption and implementation in Central and Eastern Europe.

Pawel Surowiec (Bournemouth University): “Pushing the boundries or breaking the boundries? Digital politics in 'illiberal democracy''

Paweł Surowiec, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University. Between 2014 and 2016 he was a Research Fellow at Charles University, Prague. He lectures in Critical Debates in Politics and leads a module on Diplomacy and International Relations. His scholarly research is driven by questions relating to the reinvention of classical models of propaganda praxis and socio-cultural changes in European politics. His books - ‘Nation branding, public relations and soft power: corporatizing Poland’ (2016) and ‘Social media and politics in Central and Eastern Europe’ (2017) - have been published by Routledge. He has published academic articles and book chapters on nation branding, soft power, political communication and diplomacy. In 2016 he was appointed as a treasurer of the European Communication Research and Communication Association (ECREA) and serves as the association’s Executive Board member. 

Peter Bajomi-Lázár (Budapest Business School): "Between Liberalism and Authoritarianism: Paradigm Shifts in Media & Politics in Hungary"

Péter Bajomi-Lázár is Professor of Mass Communication at the Budapest Business School. He has been teaching classes on comparative media and political systems, media policy, media sociology and the social history of the media at various higher educational institutions in Hungary since 1999, including at ELTE University, the Doctoral School of Budapest Corvinus University, and the School of Public Policy at the Central European University. His latest book is Media in Third-Wave Democracies. Southern and Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective (ed., Paris & Budapest: L'Harmattan, 2017).

12:30 Lunch

13:15 Panel 3: Lessons from South-Eastern Europe

Panel chair: Marius Dragomir (CEU) 


Maja Šimunjak (Middlesex University London): “Authoritarianism, media and political leaders: The case of Croatia“

Maja Šimunjak is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Middlesex University London. Her research focuses on media, journalism and political communication trends and practices, particularly in authoritarian and transitional societies. Before joining Middlesex, Maja worked at the European University Institute and University of East Anglia. She also has extensive experience as a professional journalist and editor in various Croatian media outlets.

14:30 Coffee break

14:45 Panel 4: Illiberal democracy beyond the EU

Panel chair: John Downey (Loughborough University)


Sally Broughton-Micova (University of East Anglia): “The illiberal managing of competition within liberalised markets”

Sally Broughton Micova is a Lecturer in Communications Policy and Politics at the University of East Anglia and member of its Centre for Competition Policy. Her research focuses on policy and regulation in media and communications. She has written extensively about audiovisual media services policy in Europe, public service media, and both digital switchover and minority language media provision in South East Europe. She is a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where she was previously Deputy Director of the LSE Media Policy Project and an LSE Research and Teaching Fellow in Media Governance and Policy. She is currently also a Research Fellow at the Centre for Regulation in Europe (CERRE) in Brussels, and a Visiting Lecturer at the Institute of Communication Studies in Skopje, Macedonia. She completed a PhD in Media and Communications at the LSE in 2013. Before entering academia in 2009, she spent over a decade working in international organisations, and continues to serve as an occasional expert for the Council of Europe, EU institutions, and the OSCE. 

Galina Miazhevich (Leicester University): “Fake news and fact-checking: the case of RT (Russia Today).”

Galina Miazhevich is a Senior Lecture at the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, UK. Galina has more than 10 years of experience in British academia including Lectureship at the University of Leicester and the Gorbachev Media Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford, UK. Galina worked on several research projects dealing with media representations of Islam as security threat; multiculturalism in Europe; media and democracy in post-communist Europe; gender, media and emergent forms of post-Soviet identity. Galina has extensively published in peer-reviewed journals and co-authored several monographs. This year Galina was an Aleksanteri Visiting fellow (Spring 2017) and became a member of the ECREA Executive Board. Galina got awarded an AHRC Leadership Fellowship (AH/R00143X/1) to explore discursive representations of non-heteronormative sexuality in Russia (2018-2020).

Burce Celik (Loughborough University London): “Is Turkey an Illiberal Democracy? The case of Turkish communications governance”

Burçe Çelik received her doctoral degree from McGill University, Communications, and has authored Technology and National Identity in Turkey: Mobile Communications and the Evolution of a Post-Ottoman Nation (IBTauris, 2011). She does research and writes on global communication and politics, communication history in the Middle East, social movements and global governance of communications.

16:00 Final discussion, wrap-up & further plans

16:30 Departure