Fragmentation and Polarization of the Public Sphere in the 2000s : Evidence from Italy and Russia
After the Arab spring, direct linkage between growth of technological hybridization of media systems and political online-to-offline protest spill-overs seemed evident, at least in several aspects, as ‘twitter revolutions’ showed organizational potential of the mediated communication of today. But in de-facto politically transitional countries hybridization of media systems is capable of performing not just organizational but also ‘cultivational’ roles in terms of creating communicative milieus where protest consensus is formed, provoking spill-overs from expressing political opinions online to street protest.The two cases of Italy and Russia are discussed in terms of their nonfinished process of transition to democracy and the media’s role within the recent political process. In the two cases, media-political conditions have called into being major cleavages in national deliberative space that may be conceptualized like formation of nation-wide public counter-spheres based upon alternative agenda and new means of communication. The structure and features of these counter-spheres are reconstructed; to check whether regional specifics are involved into the formation of this growing social gap, quantitative analysis of regional online news media (website menus) is conducted. Several indicators for spotting the formation of counter-spheres and criteria for further estimation of democratic quality of such counter-spheres are suggested.