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This juncture in history finds Europe in an uncertain and unstable position. There are several reasons for this: a zombie echo of the Cold War in the annexation of part of Ukraine by Russia; the long shadow of the Israel-Palestine conflict; the worst economic depression since the 1930s (following the international banking crisis of 2008); and the ever-widening income and wealth gaps between rich and poor. Geopolitical and economic power is shifting, resulting in a reactionary retrenchment of national identities. Thus, definitions of citizenship — who is inscribed at the centre and who at the margins — are presently being subjected to ideological pressures from a resurgent xenophobia in many quarters. The UK Independence Party, the Jobbik Party in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) in Germany and Marine Le Penn’s Front Nationale in France, for example, all rely on anti-immigration rhetoric to fuel their growing popularity. Rising anti-Semitism is driving significant numbers of France’s Jewish population to emigrate to Israel (Beaumont, 2015), and jihadist Islamism is proving attractive to many young European Muslims, perhaps searching for identity between the conservatism of their parents and the Islamophobia of their neighbourhoods. The grander ‘realpolitik’ — that Europe has consumed far more than its fair share of global resources for several hundred years, that its place in the world order is no longer secure — is not a message any of the self-preservationist political classes wish to bear to their electorates. Instead, the cultivation of fear and hatred for the ‘other’ — migrants, diasporic communities, ethnic minorities, and the ‘feckless’ poor and disabled — has become an easier (and more convenient) narrative to sell.

Citizen Voices


1. Alternative Voices, Alternative Spaces: Counterhegemonic Discourse in the Blogosphere

In 21st-century Britain, racial inequality remains deeply embedded in the fabric of society (Institute for Public Policy Research, 2010) and the media is a key site for ongoing struggles against hegemony (Bailey et al., 2008; Cammaerts, 2008; Downing, 2001). Women and people of colour remain at the margins of the mainstream media that often perpetuate inequalities through misrepresentation or exclusion. Black women are frequently constructed through the dominant discourse of ‘the angry Black woman’ (Isokariari, 2013) and measured by European standards of beauty (Collins, 1990) that render them invisible. Black men continue to be associated with criminality and are rarely represented beyond the stereotype of sporting hero (Ferber, 2007). This chapter examines how blogs are used by African Caribbean people as an assertive strategy, tool of resistance against racial oppression, and resistance to misrepresentation and exclusion in the mainstream media. It reveals how the motivation and gratification of African Caribbean bloggers are driven by a complex set of factors linked to issues of race and representation that stem from feeling voiceless, invisible and marginalised within UK society. While hailed as a revolutionary, democratic space, the blogosphere maintains raced and gendered inequalities that exist offline and reproduces unequal power relations (Cammaerts, 2008; Kellner, 2000; Papacharissi, 2002; Schradie, 2012). However, as this chapter reveals, African Caribbeans still appropriate the blogosphere as a medium for self-representation to cultivate symbolic power through their own constructions of Black identity. While there is a growing body of research on the blogosphere, the use of blogs by people of colour in the UK is an underdeveloped area of inquiry. This chapter expands the current literature by highlighting how Black Britons engage with blogs in ways that differ from the White majority population.

2. Unlocking the Gate? How NGOs Mediate the Voices of the Marginalised in a Social Media Context

At the Live 8 concert in 2005, pop star Madonna provided one of the seminal images of the day: dressed all in white, she held hands with a young Ethiopian woman called Birhan Woldu (Carr-Brown et al., 2005). As a young child, Woldu had been the icon of the 1984–85 famine, with her emaciated form appeared in the BBC’s news coverage of Ethiopia — and most famously at Live Aid 1985 to the soundtrack of The Cars’ ‘Drive’.

3. ‘I Wouldn’t Be a Victim When It Comes to Being Heard’: Citizen Journalism and Civic Inclusion

For disabled people, the UK political landscape has in recent years provided a particularly harsh backdrop of austerity and ongoing cuts to welfare and disability benefits. In November 2014, for example, a 39-year-old woman who was unable to work due to chronic pain following two road traffic accidents took her own life. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had sent several letters threatening to cut off her disability benefits and also demanding that she pay back £4,000 she had already received. During the inquest into her death in March 2015, the county coroner, Anne Pember, noted that she believed the ‘upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life’ (cited in Jones, 2015). According to freedom of information requests by the Disability News Network, the DWP had investigated some 49 cases where benefit claimants had died from February 2012 to February 2015 — 40 of these followed suicide or apparent suicide by the claimant, and 33 contained recommendations for improvements (Pring, 2015).

4. The Voices of Extremist Violence: What Can We Hear?

This chapter is not about the recognition and empowerment of marginalised or voiceless groups but offers a complementary discussion of a different set of margins. It seeks to develop a psychologically based understanding of how and why violence gathers around the edges of the mediatised public sphere, and then erupts onto centre stage in the form of terrorist attacks.

Mediating Margins


5. European Media Policy: Why Margins Actually Matter

This chapter argues that media policy-making in European countries tends to be restricted to nation-centric frameworks, and it shows that pan-European agents are not empowered to work with transnational approaches to cultural diversity when it comes to media regulation. The nation-centric approach is particularly striking when we take into account the ‘new’ complexity of contemporary Europe, which is linked particularly to migration that has been a major factor in the social (as well as the cultural and demographic) transformation of contemporary societies. The underlying principles and approaches that characterise European media policy are largely ignorant of these developments on the ground in Europe and remain caught up in the ‘national container’ approach.

6. The Rise of ‘Creative Diversity’ in Media Policy

This chapter addresses the theme of media and margins by analysing the ways in which PSB — a public sphere with a key role in national culture — has addressed the realities of a multicultural society. It argues that PSB in the UK has seen a series of discursive shifts marked by a flexible narrative of ‘diversity’. This reflects a deep level of anxiety about the best way of managing an increasingly multicultural public at a time when state multiculturalism has ended.

7. Victims at the Margins? A Comparative Analysis of the Use of Primary Sources in Reporting Personal Tragedy in Norway and the UK

While stories of death and disaster dominate the headlines, it is concerns about intrusion into grief that have understandably shaped ethical thinking about the journalistic reporting of such tragedies. Journalism is intrusive by nature (Newton and Duncan, 2012), and violent death always comes with its own ‘intimate story of loss, grief, betrayal and violation’ (Fullerton and Patterson, 2006: 305). For the journalist covering such stories, the demands are formidable and the ethical dilemmas intense, so it is little wonder that contact with bereaved families is seen as intrusive and avoidance of such contact the more ethical option, despite the families identifying themselves as the primary sources in the stories of their loss. Of course, not all deaths are recorded in the media, and many are reported only briefly, without personal factors such as photographs, obituaries or comment from their family or friends (Greer, 2007). For those left behind, their loved one becomes ‘a man; a woman; a nurse; a construction worker’ whose death is recorded factually without acknowledgement of their life.

8. Public Service from the Margins: A Case Study of Diasporic Media in the UK

The public service media aim to empower citizens irrespective of race, creed, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. However, the literature consistently concludes that the public service media fall short of satisfying the information and entertainment needs of diverse audiences in their programming (see Burns and Brugger, 2012; Cottle, 2000; Matsaganis et al., 2011; Ogunyemi, 2012; Ojo, 2006; Ross and Palydon, 2001). Such marginalisation perpetuates stereotypical representation of minority groups, portrays them as objects rather than subjects of stories, excludes them from expert sources, overlooks their contributions to the cultural and economic fabrics of the host society, and disempowers them as citizens.

9. Space and the Migrant Camps of Calais: Space-Making at the Margins

In 2007, UK online national newspapers began to report on a handful of tents on scrubland near the French port of Calais occupied by migrants hoping to cross the UK border. By early 2009 this makeshift space, labelled ‘the jungle’ by migrants and the newspapers, had more than 800 occupants (Rawstorne, 2009). In September 2009, the French riot police demolished the camp and dispersed its occupants (Garnham, 2009) in the expectation of deterring new migrants from heading to Calais. In spite of this militant action by the French authorities, mini-camps sprung up all along the French coastline. The newspapers were concerned that these shelters could grow into ‘mini jungles’ (Allen, 2009c), and within a year a ‘new jungle’ had emerged in a small village near Dunkirk, only to be similarly demolished by the authorities (Finan and Allen, 2010).

Protests and Power


10. Visibility of Protest at the Margins: The Thatcher Funeral Protests

Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s death in April 2013, at the age of 87, brought an outpouring of emotion in the UK and beyond, but this was not simply an occasion of national mourning for a retired stateswoman who had long ago exited the political stage. With the rare honour of having a political ideology named after her during her lifetime, Thatcher was a towering figure in UK political culture whose name could inspire hatred as well as admiration. As her official biographer Charles Moore writes in volume one of her biography, the interest in Thatcher’s character has not diminished in her death: ‘She is someone about whom it is almost impossible to be neutral. People are fascinated, appalled, delighted by her. Many think she saved Britain, many that she destroyed it. The only thing that unites them is their interest’ (2013: xvii). So the occasion of Thatcher’s funeral on 13 April 2013 was never simply going to present a moment for respectfully marking the passing of a wife, mother and grandmother; it also offered the moment when a nation reflected on how contemporary society has been decisively and divisively shaped by‘that woman’.1

11. ‘Pay Your Tax!’ How Tax Avoidance Became a Prominent Issue in the Public Sphere in the UK

While Habermas’ original model of the public sphere has attracted enormous attention from across the humanities and social sciences in the English-speaking world since its belated translation over 25 years ago, his subsequent modifications to the model are much less well known. This is a pity because they provide a much more sophisticated understanding of the complex and dynamic operation of the public sphere that can help scholars explain how changes occur in public discourse and beyond.

12. UGC in the Newsroom: How BBC Journalists’ Engagement with Internet Activists Has Altered Newsroom Practices

This chapter examines how BBC journalistic practices have changed to incorporate UGC and activist voices during the Syrian uprising that began in March 2011. The research proposes that limited access to the country since that time has led to greater interaction with citizens and activists within Syria, whose voices were marginalised at the start of the violence. As the conflict continues into its fourth year, more than 100,000 people are believed to have been killed, many journalists have been captured or murdered, and the country is arguably becoming unreportable. This means that those seeking to cover events in Syria must engage with citizens on the ground. Some of these voices went largely unheard initially, yet media activists, arguable non-elite sources who were once at the margins of reporting, are now perceived to be something akin to ‘correspondents’, and news organisations’ relationships with them are evolving.

13. Police, Protester, Public: Unsettling Binaries in the Public Sphere

During public demonstrations, protesters seek to instigate social and political change by bringing people and ideas that they perceive to have been marginalised into mainstream public spaces (Ruiz, 2014). This move from the margins to the mainstream is frequently both materially and symbolically fraught. However, demonstrators who are happy to move within officially sanctioned parameters are generally recognised as being an important part of a fully functioning democracy (Cottle, 2006; Della Porta et al., 2006). Indeed, such gatherings could be interpreted as the embodiment of Habermas’ normative notion of the public sphere — a rational, deliberative and self-organising space in which private individuals congregate in order to reflect upon how best to achieve the greater good.


To what extent does our sense of marginality prefigure the mainstream, the interior centre that anchors a projection of exterior boundaries or limits? Much will depend upon who shares ‘our’ vantage point, of course, and thereby who is likely to be excluded accordingly. Everyday life is permeated with social divisions and hierarchies, many of which appear perfectly normal or ordinary, imperceptibly engendered by time-worn conventions to the point that they are taken for granted, ostensibly inevitable if not desirable. As the contributors to Media, Margins and Civic Agency have shown us on these pages, however, there is nothing intrinsically normal or necessarily ordinary about these inequalities. Rather, what’s at stake is the seemingly ‘commonsensical’ imposition of power relations in the hallowed name of tradition, helping to encourage an emotive attachment to the status quo as a natural embodiment of ‘the past’. To challenge convention, it follows, is to risk censure, to be found wanting as an outsider — someone who does not belong, whose very presence poses a lurking threat to social order and stability.


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