Entertaining Democracy in the Era of Neo-Liberalism
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Curran, J. (2016). Entertaining Democracy in the Era of Neo-Liberalism. Brazilian Journalism Research, 12(2), 12–29. https://doi.org/10.25200/BJR.v12n2.2016.864


James Curran’s article “Entertaining democracy in the Era of Neo-liberalism” is an essay written from the 13th SBPJor Conference Meeting in Campo Grande in 2015; a conference in which he was the opening speaker. The article was approved for publication in the BJR at the end of 2015, but we have decided to publish it in a special edition of Journalism and Democracy as it deals precisely with this issue. Curran begins the article by questioning the current state of democracy as it pertains to the decline of the nation state and the emergence of transnational institutions of deliberation which he calls “multilevel governance” but “is not matched by the development of a multilevel sense of citizenship”. As almost a prelude to the Brexit, Curran draws attention to the fact that the English do not consider themselves European despite being a part of the European Union. He tied this nationalist ideal not only to the British, but to other country populations in general. In a world dominated by transnational corporations and the presence and constancy of national media “supporting a national identity” he predicted that “Attempts at new institutional building are out of step with media development”. His analysis highlights several problems that are weakening modern democracy like “the increasing centralization of power by political leaders” and the “increasingly unrepresentative nature of the political class  rendering them in some countries almost a ‘separate caste’”. Reading Curran’s text allows us to reflect on the situation in Brazil. At first, it is pessimistic and places meanings that we have lobbied for outside of our borders: “Governments are less able to govern; political power is becoming more centralized; and the unelected influence of big business is becoming greater”. The media also has a hand in contributing towards a “growing sense of disconnection from politics”, making reference to politics as a linear universe dominated by the elite. After further analysis of the contrasting possibilities that the Internet brings as well as its role in constructing news in public systems, Curran offers a slightly more positive outlook: “liberal democracy is in disrepair, and the media are implicated in its malaise. The rise of the internet offers some relief, as does an enduring political experiment – public service broadcasting.” Once more, there is no way to not compare his perspective with what is happening in Brazil nowadays; we are fighting for the hope of building an effective and autonomous public system. Lastly, Curran places importance on starting to think about politics from new vantage points, especially for creating policies and media entertainment.  Once again, we can see similarities in Brazil. This understanding is common among our researchers, such as the numerous research spaces which work on this correlation. But, after tracing a series of inferences on specific materials, Curran puts forth a direct and definite conclusion: “A healthy democracy needs to be informed as well as entertained”. 

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