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The ambivalences of visibility: News consumption and public attitudes to same-sex relationships in the context of illiberalism

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-01-12, 15:06 authored by Sabina MiheljSabina Mihelj, Katherine Kondor, Vaclav StetkaVaclav Stetka, Fanni TothFanni Toth

Over the past decade, the rights of people whose sexual orientation does not conform to prevailing norms have become a divisive issue in many countries. Despite a long tradition of research on media and sexual minorities, the role of the media in these recent backlashes remains poorly understood. We argue that this is partly because work in this area is often underpinned by a simple, linear narrative that unambiguously links visibility to empowerment. We highlight the ambivalent impact of mediated visibility and argue that in the context of elite-driven polarization, illiberalism, and low levels of media freedom, visibility can become a vehicle of control. To explore this proposition, we examine the link between media and public attitudes to same-sex relationships in four east European countries, combining a population survey with semi-structured interviews. The results confirm the need to consider the conditions of mediated visibility in particular socio-political contexts, showing that where control over the conditions of visibility remain in the hands of homophobic elites, both Public Service Media and digital media can contribute to negative attitudes.

Funding

The Illiberal Turn? News Consumption, Polarization and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

Economic and Social Research Council

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History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Loughborough University London

Department

  • Communication and Media

Published in

European Journal of Communication

Volume

38

Issue

6

Pages

571 - 590

Publisher

SAGE

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

Acceptance date

2022-12-21

Publication date

2023-01-19

Copyright date

2023

ISSN

0267-3231

eISSN

1460-3705

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof Sabina Mihelj. Deposit date: 22 December 2022

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