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The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Theorizing the Future of Russian Media System in BRICS Context

Chair: Elena Vartanova (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia)
Discussant: Hannu Nieminen (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Kaarle Nordenstreng (University of Tampere, Finland): BRICS as a Context for Russian Media (Studies)
Elena Vartanova (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia): Recognizing the Future? Russian Academia Responding to Media Industry Demands
Denis Dunas (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia): The Dynamics of Theoretical Paradigms in the Russian Media Studies
Anna Gureeva (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia): Russian Media Policy in a Response to a Global Technological Change

A rise of BRICS countries and their media systems in a modern geopolitical environment considered also through particular national contexts clearly needs an academic update of major theories including existing media system conceptual framework, understanding of media as a phenomenon and its relations to a changing society, its basic structures and their performance. Russia as a part of this geopolitical alliance has been characterized by a dynamic though multifaceted and controversial media transformations that also represented a challenge to traditional theoretical approaches to media – both Western and non-Western. The new task to media scholars has been set also by rapid technological and economic transformations in BRICS as well as in Russian media industries, media policy change and shifts in media consumption which make interrelations between economic and political institutions, cultural traditions, citizens needs and media systems more complex than existing theories have envisaged and described until now. The fast transition to a digital media ecosystem, transnational industrial media structures, new formats of ‘beyond the national’ media regulation, universalized journalism practices and changed global patterns of relations between media producers and media users within the digital environment have resulted in a growing denial of the existing academic approaches to national media systems. But the reality of the BRICS media in general and in particular the Russian one has put a new emphasis on the role of national institutions under the global trends and still influential national political, economic and socio-cultural environments. Russian media system though in a way dissimilar to Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and South African media, has experienced recent transformations resulting in different perspectives within the coming interrelated global and national contexts. Thus, theoretical visions of a still relevant media system concept have faced a number of challenges, chief among which are the impact of national ‘path dependence’ on political, cultural, educational and other areas of a society. And ‘old school’ understanding of a media system nature has become no more relevant, especially bearing in mind its existence in a mixed analogue-digital media environment. There is an obvious need to explore new approaches to a media system concept and to set up foundations to a complex contemporary media theory, which would be targeted to remove disagreements between the industry, expert and academic communities, between Western normative and Eastern/Russian instrumental approaches to media, as well as to help to contextualize global, supra-regional (BRICS) and Russian media theories for the forecast of the coming media reality. The panel aims to map the current challenges for the Russian media studies and to identify major driving forces of Russian media research in the past and at present; to envisage coming challenges for the theory from the most debated concepts such as policy-making, media economics and media industry, as well as path dependence theory. This is needed in order to create an impetus for future systematic theoretical debate on Russian media involving all stakeholders including policy-makers, media business, civil society and academic communities.