The viral and virulent spread of ethno-populism and nationalism around the globe including the countries on the democratic side of political continuum has encouraged considerable research exploring effects, causes and mechanisms of these phenomena. We invite papers investigating the role of media in creating social and political divisions where there were none, enhancing polarisation of and within societies, and compromising the quality of democracy. Comparative approaches are particularly welcome to assess whether and to what extent the level of democratic consolidation, relationship between the media and societies, societal segmentation along ascriptive criteria (i.e. ethnicity, language, religion etc) or ideological lines (i.e right vs left), etc increase the likelihood ethnocentric polarisation. Does media stoke nationalist sentiments to encourage political realignment? Has the spread of 'us vs them’ rhetoric undermined the long standing social solidarities? How big of a role does economic interest of the media itself play in fuelling the perceptions of divisions?
Our workshop takes place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the society with an experience of intergroup conflict and persistent societal division that is reflected in its media landscape. We seek to build upon the expertise from the ‘plural and divided places’ to reflect on: 1) experiences of research from social and political sciences on the lasting effects of conflict and identity-based antagonism when assessing opportunities and constraints for media outlets to reach across the socially and politically salient divide; 2) rich analysis of case specific material from communication studies, especially focussing the media systems and media communication to reflect on the impact of political polarisation on medias role in ushering in the democratic publics.