Understanding TED as Alternative Media

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703272014
Title: Understanding TED as Alternative Media
Author: Ferica, Imy
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2012
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703272014
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/34133
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Media and Communication Studies
Viestintä
Medier och kommunikation
Abstract: This study aims to examine the political, economic, social and cultural characteristics of TED as alternative media. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non-profit global conference media organizer that curates formatted brief speech called TED Talk and presents it in its offline conferences as well as publishes in online platform. TED has a global network that has spread rapidly through TEDx, a replication of TED-like conference by local communities worldwide. This social phenomenon makes TED as the contemporary illustration of the latest development of alternative media. Earlier literature studies on alternative media from Atton (2002) and Downing et al. (2001) focus on alternative media’s role as civil society that radically opposes the dominant power of the state, market and mainstream media. This civic role is important in providing alternative voices in democracy. Castells (2008) argues that the advancement of communication technology in globalization process has extended alternative media’s civic engagement to global level and empowered the community to higher access and participation in alternative media. Bailey et al. (2008) surmise these developments into four approaches that see alternative media: first, in serving the community; second, as an alternative to mainstream media; third, as part of civil society; and fourth, as a rhizome-like hybrid media. This study utilizes these literature references along with the four frameworks above to present holistic view in understanding TED as alternative media. By studying TED, I seek to expand these theoretical discussions by looking at how alternative media build sustainable civil society movement through dynamically incorporating dominant values in achieving its alternative media goals. This hybrid approach also affects alternative media’s ways in serving the community, promoting democracy and prompting social changes. The methodology of this study is ethnography. Since TED has two social settings of offline conference and online media platform, the ethnographic approach of this study is conducted in both setting. I gathered field data through participation and observation on TEDx Jakarta event and interview with the founders as well as online observation on TED.com, TED Talk videos, TED’s forums and third party documents on TED. I analyzed the data with the help of coding tools and discussed the findings within the framework of literature references. The key findings of this study show that TED’s political, economic, social and cultural characteristics are contingent, rhizome-like and transhegemonic. These characteristics project TED as alternative media that adopts dominant practices such as commercialism and controlled editorial system and maintaining elitism to reach paradoxically its civic goals of democratizing knowledge sharing and making social changes. TED also builds flexible partnership with the market and mainstream media and is not entirely counter-hegemonic. Although TED maintains a centralized authority in policy making, its relationship with its communities is based on rhizome-like network which strives towards semi-hierarchical access and participation, multiple replications by community and heterogeneity of its community across geographical and cultural borders. However this hybrid strategy of alternative media brings up threats of over-commercialization, elitism within the community, and ideological bias.
Subject: alternative media
civil society
community building
participation
globalization
vaihtoehtoinen media
kansalaisyhteiskunta


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