The Mediation of the Concept of Civil Society in the Belarusian Press (1991-2010)

  • Iryna Clark

Student thesis: Phd


The thesis evaluates existing discourses on 'civil society' as mediated in the Belarusian press from 1991 until 2010, the former date corresponding with the country's independence after the collapse of the USSR. It provides a chronological account of the concept's use in Belarusian print media, an objective not addressed previously, and demonstrates how the articulations of 'civil society' in the media shifted over time and in response to contextual conditions. Drawing on the notion of 'dialogue' derived from Bakhtin's studies, it reports on the multiplicity of voices and points of view that formed and informed 'civil society' discourses. By highlighting the different semantics given to the concept of 'civil society' when used in the Belarusian press, the thesis emphasises the ambiguity of the term that allows it to be used by various actors holding disparate ideological views. It argues that while the use of the concept can instil ideas that facilitate the promotion of democracy, it can also serve as an ideological foundation for authoritarian regimes. It may serve as a tool to promote nation-building and solidarity, the concept may also provoke divisions and alienation in society.Another key argument of this thesis, which has been overlooked in research, is that the meaning of 'civil society' is determined by the type of its mediating institutions and their communication practices circumscribed by contextual factors. Drawing on a diverse representative selection of Belarusian print media, the thesis examines the style and discursive practices employed in the mediation of 'civil society' in the Belarusian press whilst locating the debate in a broader socio-political context. It is within this context where the concept of civil society is constructed, legitimised, transformed, and deconstructed. In view of this, the discourse of civil society constitutes a language system that can be understood through Critical Discourse Analysis. It is these contextual factors and discursive practices that shaped the unique media environment that make my case different from other post-Soviet nations, while allowing comparisons to be drawn with the developments witnessed in the post-Socialist regions and globally.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStephen Hutchings (Supervisor) & Matthew Jefferies (Supervisor)

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