“Massimo Baldini” Centre for Media and Communication Studies,
University Luiss of Rome
Michele Sorice's intervention wa s focused on the theme of complexity and social cohesion, and the mission of public service media in the era of social networks.
In order to discuss the issue of social cohesion we must start from a short observation regarding Italian history. In Italy we have had a series of different periods. In the Fascist era the public service was hybrid, with private players intervening in the public service. The propagandistic element and the educational dimension were very strong, with the latter aiming towards the construction of a national identity. Immediately after the war the public service in Italy set itself the goal of building social cohesion, which was crucial in a society that still lacked a sense of aggregation. Finally, developments in recent years have accentuated the need for a public service which is capable of promoting culture, encouraging the aggregation of multiple identities and accelerating processes of integration and social cohesion , without forgetting the original function of providing a stimulus to education. In this context it becomes necessary to consider not only the radio-television broadcasting system as a public service, but also the Net, so that we can move from a logic of access to one of participation, while m aking sure that the public sphere is participatory and not just emotional.
Social cohesion is ensured by the conscious use of all media by citizens. In this context, the public service should try to have a mediating role. The adaptation of contents to the new situation must not just be a technological answer, but must be linked to social change within society itself.
The public service is definitely not to be seen as limited to TV broadcasting. It must be essential precisely because it has to cover not only television and radio, but rather to ensure access to communication. The fundamental issue is that of the relationship between three successive steps. Once the public service guaranteed access to programs. The next step was towards a greater degree of interaction. We are now experiencing the possibility for users to participate in the dynamics of production. The public service cannot stop at this, but has to ensure a much more radical interaction. It provide guarantees for citizens to participate in democratic processes by intervening in the rules.
Our dream is for social cohesion and a world of the media that sees integration and the cohesion of values as the fundamental element.
Continuation of the real-time summary
General content of Professor Michele Sorice 's speech:
Complexity and social cohesion.
The mission of Public Service Media in the era of social networks.
After abandoning the instructive and propagandistic function of Fascist radio, public broadcasting services in Italy began by trying to act as an educational tool for the construction of a new society. The more strictly pedagogical aspects as well as some defensively self-aggrandising distortions of Italian society in those years should be classified in this context. Apart from any judgement as regards the merits of this conception of a public service, the primary objective of creating a sense of social cohesion is clear. The idea of social cohesion was strongly present in the television of the Sixties: this was the television of a society still suffering from deep lacerations, which did not in fact possess the common identity which should arise from the sharing of values and institutions.
Developments in recent years have, in my opinion, accentuated the need for a public service which is capable of promoting culture, encouraging the aggregation of multiple identities and accelerating the processes of integration and social cohesion. The public service should, in other words, be able to sustain citizenship and strengthen civil society, in addition to stimulating various forms of creativity (especially those that are not mainstream) but without forgetting its early role in stimulating education as well as the many different forms of learning that are available today.
In this context it has become necessary, however, not to limit ourselves to considering only the radio and television broadcasting system as a public service and, therefore, not to confine the concept of “public service” to the logic of access alone. In the new national social scenario the public service must necessarily include Internet (and therefore be free of charge and independent as well as firmly rejecting any form of censorship). This means, among other things, moving from the logic of access (typical of the sixties) to that of participation.
The new role of the public as protagonist must be combined with clear plans (not concerning content so much as processes and policies) and must represent an added value in the construction of a participatory public sphere which is not merely “emotional”, like that which the current broadcasting system contributes towards creating. At the same time, it is necessary for Italian society to enter into a debate regarding the profound values that should be at its core. Social cohesion is built and ensured by the conscious use of all media by citizens. In this context, the public service should also try to have a mediating role. This function is really possible only within a wider European project of developing forms of active citizenship, based on reconsidering the mission of public service media.
Rome April 27th, 2010 - Conference of Professor Michele Sorice
Complexity and social cohesion: challenges of the public service
in the era of social networks