Abstract - The Information Society 30(3)

SPECIAL ISSUE: Media and Empowerment


Media between power and empowerment: Can we resolve this dilemma?

Leopoldina Fortunati

This paper analyses how media have been conceptualized sometimes in accordance with notions of power and other times with those of empowerment. It is time to overcome this inconsistency in explanations of media-users relationship and look at in a more innovative way. After a brief introduction in which I introduce the issues regarding the relationship between media and power/empowerment and the related research questions, in the next section I take stock of the how the debate historically developed in the social sciences on the notion of power, which is one of the most important sociological concepts. In the subsequent section I analyze the more recent notion of empowerment, which is used to explain the presumed role of media in shifting power towards users in beneficial ways. The final discussion demonstrates how classics can help us re-conceptualize the role of power and empowerment in a reasonable way that accommodates both notions in the same theoretical framework.      


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