lunes, 27 de mayo de 2013

Enric Castelló

Reseña en Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies, 5.1 (pp. 138-139) de:

de Enric Castelló (ed.)


Reviewed by Jaume López, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Understanding Spain’s current political situation and institutional crisis and the growing independence movement in Catalonia is greatly facilitated by La mediatización del conflicto político. Discursos y narrativas en el contexto español/Media construction of political conflict. Discourses and narratives in the Spanish context maps, in eleven chapters, the interpretative frames developed by the press regarding issues such as the Constitutional Court’s verdict regarding the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, the ban imposed on the Basque political party Bildu and the banning of bullfighting in Catalonia.

What these issues have in common is that they could possibly be consid­ered symptoms of a weakening of the agreements that formed the basis for Spain’s Transition to Democracy. More crudely stated, they are an expres­sion of the growing political conflict between the centre and the periphery, between Spanish nationalism and peripheral nationalisms. Yet another common feature is the active involvement of the mass media, to the point of becoming a generator of conflict. It is therefore appropriate for the book to open with a chapter on political conflict and the role of the mass media, authored by the book’s editor, Enric Castelló, who also penned the overall conclusions.

Castelló explores the issue of social conflict and discusses the correspond­ing theories before focusing on the central role played by the mass media as outstanding agents of conflict. This fact is highlighted as soon as we become aware that any diffusion of information transforms reality. Media construction can be understood as the process leading to the media becoming agents that shape society and culture in their everyday activities. The process unfolds in very diverse ways, but the most interesting one is probably that happening through the media frame. The remaining chapters analyse the frames produced by the printed press and their impact on the social and political conflict.

Arantxa Capdevila and Elena Ferrán analyse the media stance regard­ing home rule restrictions and demonstrate how a political actor –in this case former Prime Minister José María Aznar– manages to impose an interpretative frame that configures every subsequent media debate. Cristina Perales, Rafael Xambó and Enric Xicoy next analyse media coverage of the Constitutional Court’s verdict on the Statute of Autonomy and its repercus­sions, demonstrating the coexistence of two utterly opposed frames in the Spanish newspapers – unionist and plurinational – linked to two different ways of understanding Spain. These frames appear again and again in subse­quent chapters regarding issues such as the legalization of Bildu (Laura Filardo and Ludivine Thouverez), the conflict over works of art in churches located in the Franja (a strip of Aragonese territory on the border with Catalonia) and the documents kept in the Salamanca archives (Enric Castelló), the ban on bullfighting (Miriam Soriano) and national/regional sports teams (Hugh O’Donnell and Fernando León). The coexistence of frames is not just state-wide but also happens at the Catalan level and among Catalanists, as demon­strated in the study of morning radio coverage of the Constitutional Court’s verdict (Marta Montagut), and in Galicia, again in relation to independence (Xosé Rúas). Frames are not of course a preserve of the Spanish press, so the last chapter in the book (Sara Bastiaensens and Alexander Dhoest) analyses Belgian press coverage of Catalan issues; in this case, frames are instrumental in reflecting, as in a mirror, nationalist conflicts in Belgium.

This book shows how the media actively contribute to generating social conflict. It could be said that the media are as much part of the problem as of the solution. The crisis in Spanish democracy cannot be isolated from the behaviour of media that have relinquished, at least in part, their remit as providers of discursive tools that help foster a free and critical citizenry. This volume is more concerned with describing the problem than theorizing about it, so the next step must consist of figuring out how to promote a press that, regardless of its different and legitimate perspectives, contributes in a positive way to democracy and to solving any conflicts that arise in the political arena.