The aim of the research program Variable Media Landscapes is to theoretically develop an understanding of media’s signification for social and cultural change, based on empirically grounded analyses of the links between local, regional, national and global cultural flows, with a special focus on mediated processes. Research questions concern the part played by these processes in regional development, political opinion formation, formation of networks and cultural identities, media structures and media use.
Due to the accelerating development of media technologies and the difficulties in analysing complex processes of change in modern Nordic and East European media, the research program will run for four years until 2005. The program develops in two overlappning phases: the first phase consists of a broad, explorative survey that will collect quantitative data on media production, media structure and media use in different regions. This phase encompasses historical studies of local developments of media structures and uses in a couple of specific regions and localities (the Södertörn region in Sweden and Estonia). Phase two comprises more delimited component studiesw ithin three areas: hase two co within three areas (and which also comprises additional localities, e.g. Åland, Berlin, Tammerfors, Latvia). Research questions concern the following areas:
-Media landscapes in space and time
-Media landscapes as text and symbolic environment
-Variable media landscapes: communicative articulations in space and time
An important aspect of the research program is the analysis of the various links and articulations between the local and the global in these regions and localities, in order to fully grasp the heterogeneous character of these links. As several post-communist countries in the Eastern Europe have experienced an intense expansion of the media sector, and following from that, radical changes in patterns of media use, we find it important to study mediated processes in these countries, and compare this development to processes within the – also fast-changing – Swedish media context. In that way we hope to reach a better understanding of how media interact with regional localities, and how specific conditions in different places affect media development as well as media’s role in the overall cultural and societal development.