Living with Control, Working with Control : Reflections of Israeli Journalists

Bareikytė, Miglė; Dachwitz, Ingo; Yang, Lu

In this paper, liberal democracy is problematized by examining one paradox inherent to its conceptualization and practice: the possibility for those elected in to power to call out the state of exception, thereby implementing mechanisms of control through the system of law. At the same time, our assumption is that people are not only controlled by instruments of the state, but also by their self-imposed control and built-in processes of socialization and adaption. Thus we conceptualize a theoretical framework where the use of big words like “democracy” and “freedom” is changed into the analysis of external and internal control mechanisms in a democracy based on the idea of sovereignty. To combine this theoretical groundwork with empirical practice, we conducted qualitative interviews with Israeli journalists. In doing so, we wanted to analyze their reflections on what could be considered the potential control of a professional group of media practitioners whose role it is to expose the misuse of power, and act as a watchdog in a democratic society. Israel is used as an intensified example, because it is a liberal democracy where the state of emergency has endured for over fifty years. This has affected its media landscape through control mechanisms, such as media censorship or gag orders. The reflections of these Israeli journalists did pave the way for our explorative research to question the extent of “freedom” in any democracy that is based on the idea of sovereignty and focus on the mechanisms which limit and control their actions.


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