Media Development in Instable Media Systems

By Johanna Mack


This Ph.D. project interrogates possibilities for, challenges of and approaches to media development in continually unstable, least developed media systems, with a special focus on Guinea-Bissau as a case study.

The project aims to conceptualize a media system analysis for Guinea-Bissau. This includes, as a first step, a mapping of the media landscape and the media development sector in this small, lusophone West African country that has so far rarely been on the radar of international communication research and is categorized by the United Nations as a ìLeast Developed Country (LDC)î and a ìSmall Developing Island State (SDIS)î. What are challenges and opportunities for media development in Guinea-Bissau? How do Bissau-Guinean actors define important aspects of a media system, and (how) do their definitions correspond to those of international media development actors and academia?

The project will contribute to the theoretical discussion about chances and limits of current models and theories of media systems, and question their use for describing media systems in unstable, least developed contexts in Africa and beyond. The roles of media development within media systems will be in focus.

In addition, practices of knowledge production about media landscapes used by donors and practitioners of international media development shall be examined and compared. What knowledge is the funding and implementation of projects based on, how is it generated? Referring to local media actors’ understanding of the Bissau-Guinean media system and considering theoretical insights as well as practical needs, existing strategies shall be analysed.

How can new and context-sensitive approaches to knowledge production about media systems in unstable, least developed contexts help to find starting points for media development? Based on its findings, this study will suggest strategies for the case of Guinea-Bissau.



Supervisors: Prof Jens Loenhoff, University Duisburg-Essen and Prof Susanne Fengler, Erich Brost Institute, Technical University Dortmund
Practice Partner: Deutsche Welle Akademie




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