Media and the Illiberal Turn Conference: Hybrid Event

  • 28 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
  • Thu, 28 Apr 2022, 09:00 – Fri, 29 Apr 2022, 16:00 BST
  • Online Event

Media and the Illiberal Turn: Challenges to democracy and public communication in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About this event

Please note that this is a hybrid event. Tickets from Eventbrite will give you access to the live stream only.

Recent years have seen worrying political developments across both old and new democracies, ranging from the rise of populist leaders and dwindling support for democratic rule to deepening ideological cleavages and growing polarization of public opinion. Many of these trends have been linked to parallel changes in the information environment, and specifically to the growth of social media and digital platforms. These changes have been blamed for the growing societal polarization around key issues of public concern, ranging from immigration policies, abortion and LGBTQ+ rights to the climate change and public health measures. However, traditional media have often been central to these processes as well, whether through amplifying populist and illiberal narratives, or through serving as propaganda channels for governments and other actors.

This conference will provide an opportunity to widen the discussion of media and illiberalism beyond the geographical scope of “The Illiberal Turn” project. Although Central and Eastern Europe has been at the forefront of the illiberal turn, similar trends have been documented in an increasing number of countries across the world, including Brazil, India, the Philippines, as well as Western democracies such as the US or the UK. A key aim of the conference is to map the role of the media in diverse trajectories of illiberalism around the world.

In addition, we are also interested in understanding the interactions between illiberalism, the media, and the COVID-19 pandemic. In several countries, governments abused the crisis to push through illiberal policies, impose further restrictions on free speech, and tighten their grip over the media. At the same time, concerns about the role of the media in spreading misinformation and fuelling vaccine hesitancy added a sense of urgency to debates about digital platform regulation. What do these tendencies mean for the mid- and long-term impact of the pandemic on the global advance of illiberalism?

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