Media, Participation and Democracy

Media, Participation and Democracy

24. DAVID BYRNE Democracy in Action, 2011 multimedia installation with twenty-five digital photo frames overall, 37 1/2 x 78 x 2 1/4 inches

The news media play a critical role in the functioning of democracy. Indeed political systems – whatever shape they take – depend on the media.

Ever since the introduction of the first forms of printed press, the impact of the media has always been present. On the one hand there are notions of the media acting as a “watchdog” of democracy, with the ability to hold elected officials to account by making them answerable for their actions.

On the other however there are instances where the media have demonstrated political bias, often acting as the mouthpieces for political interests.

Such instances, combined with the increasing reliance of the mainstream media on corporate interests, mainly through advertising, has led increasingly to a need for alternative media as a means of informing people about a diversity of news, opinions and voices.

Indeed the last decade has seen the proliferation of new digital technologies that have empowered ordinary citizens to have a voice, and to produce and exchange information; the same voices and information that is often ignored by the mainstream media.

For our interlocutors in this edition of the “Resources for Democracy” podcast, the existence of a power imbalance between the media haves and the have nots is where the crux of the issue lies. With their help and insights, we explore the intricate relationship between democracy, participation, and the media.

Supplementary Resources

LSE Podcasts. Global Media System, Public Knowledge and Democracy (audio)

University of Cambridge. Alastair Campbell: Journalism and democracy: grounds for optimism in the face of the future? (audio)

LSE Podcasts. 2014 Polis Journalism Conference – LSE Media Policy Project session: Watching the watchdogs – Watching the watchdogs (audio)

Harvard University. Partisanship in the Non-Partisan Press: The Implications of Media Bias for Democracy (audio)

LSE Podcasts. Blaming Europe? Citizens, Governments and the Media (audio)

How digital media and big data are redefining democracy: Clifton Van Der Linden at TEDxUofT (vid)

World Forum for Democracy: “Media responsibility and potential to foster democracy” (vid)

DemocracySpot. 12 Papers on Social Media and Political Participation


Spreading the News: The Role of Media in Transitioning Democracies (vid)

Citizens in Action: The Search for Missing Persons – and the truth – in Cyprus

Citizens in Action: The Search for Missing Persons – and the truth – in Cyprus

missing persons

One of many scars caused by conflict is that of missing persons, whose enduring impact can leave a painful legacy for societies that can take generations to heal.

In search of a clear definition of a missing person, the International Committee of the Red Cross has set out some two key parameters: a person whose whereabouts are unknown to his/her relatives; and who has been reported missing in accordance with the national legislation in connection to international or non-international armed conflict, internal violence or disturbances, natural catastrophes or any other situation that requires the intervention the State.

The missing persons issue is one of the most difficult consequences of the Cyprus conflict. Over the course of the period 1963 to 1974. The Committee on Missing Persons (CMP), established in 1981 to ‘establish the fate of missing persons’, sets the total number at 1.958 – 1.464 Greek Cypriots and 494 Turkish Cypriots.

However, as the CMP lay dormant for many years, it was left to civil society to fill the void, advocating for common action on what was, after all, a humanitarian issue of relevance to all Cypriots. Thus, in 2005, a new organisation was established, representing families of both Greek and Turkish Cypriot missing persons, emphasising the link between exposing stories of violence and loss, and preventing conflict in the future.

In this, second part of this edition of the Resources for Democracy podcast on Transitional Justice, we hear from Erbay Akansoy and Christos Efhymiou, two members of the Bi-communal Initiative of Relatives of Missing Persons, Victims of Massacres and other Victims of the 1963-74 Events, about their experiences, their work, and their hopes for the future.

Supplementary Resources:

Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) – Digging for a Future (vid)

Cyprus: Digging the Past in Search of the Future (documentary) (vid)

Thinking Historically about Missing Persons: A Guide for Teachers, 4. Missing Persons in Cyprus

Transitional Justice in the 21st Century

New Research on Transitional Justice (vid)

Does Transitional Justice Work? (vid)

Civil Society Cyprus Context

Civil Society Cyprus Context



The concept of civil society means a range of things to many different people. This video focuses on different concepts and explanations as to what civil society means with specific reference to Cyprus, and the peace, re-unification and reconciliation process.

Supplementary Resources:

Mahallae: Mapping of Civic Initiatives in Cyprus

Policy Paper on the Empowerment of Civil Society in Cyprus

Civil Society in Reconciliation: beyond the ‘Cyprus problem’

Cyprus Civil Society: Developing Trust and Cooperation

Building Trust and Reconciliation in Cyprus: a civil society toolkit

NGOs in Cyprus


Civil Society Theories and Perspectives

Civil Society Theories and Perspectives


According to the Yearbook of International Organizations, the number of international NGOs was reported to have increased from 6,000 in 1990 to more than 50,000 in 2006. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) exist in many countries throughout the world. This video reflects on what some CSO’s do in three different contexts, Egypt, Lebanon and Cyprus.

Supplementary Resources

Mapping Civil Society Organizations in Lebanon

MIDDLE EASTERN DEMOCRACY Is Civil Society the Answer?

Civil mobilisation and peace in Lebanon

State crime, civil society and resistance: lessons from Tunisia

The obliteration of civil society in Egypt

Civil Society’s Fundamental Role in Egypt

Civil Society and Democratic Transformation in Contemporary Egypt: Premise and Promises

Civil Society in Egypt under the Mubarak Regime

The Cyprus Problem

The Cyprus Problem

Small cyprus086

The Cyprus Problem has remained unsolved for decades. It has been likened in many ways to a Rubric Cube puzzle that cannot be worked out. This video looks at different definitions of what the problem is – how it could possibly be resolved and considers a number of research findings on the past and possibilities for the future.

Supplementary Resources:

The True Story about the Geopolitical Role of Cyprus: David or Goliath? [Audio]

East Mediterranean Hydrocarbons Geopolitical Perspectives, Markets, and Regional Cooperation

Predicting Peace: The Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Index as a Tool for Conflict Transformation

The Stream: Cyprus: On the road to unification? (vid)

Consociational Democracy: Civic Participation within a Power Sharing structure

Consociational Democracy: Civic Participation within a Power Sharing structure


For societies divided by ethnic conflict, the practicalities of achieving a functioning democratic polity are all the more difficult. Characterised by a political culture that does not favour compromise, the options for securing a more prosperous future are limited.

In order to change the conflict dynamics in these contexts, the concept of power sharing often presents itself as the most viable solution, where systems of governance attempt to incorporate all major segments of society, relieving tensions through consensus.

The implementation of power sharing models raises interesting questions about the resolution and management of conflicts. Indeed, is power sharing a tool for ending intractable conflict? Or is it simply a way of bringing it – and the different players involved – under control?

In this edition of the Resources for Democracy podcast, we talk to Chrystalla Yakinthou, Research Fellow at Birmingham University with an extensive research background in power sharing between communities in divided societies, particularly in Cyprus and Lebanon.


Supplementary Resources:

Democracy and Power-Sharing in Multi-National States

Complex Power Sharing as Conflict Resolution: South Tyrol in Comparative


Consociationalism (vid)

Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture: Ethnic Power-Sharing and Democracy  (vid)

Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture: Ethnic Power-Sharing and Democracy Part 2 (vid)

Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture: Ethnic Power-Sharing and Democracy Part 3 (vid)


Explaining Citizenship, Identity and Participation: The Case of Cyprus

Explaining Citizenship, Identity and Participation: The Case of Cyprus


There are a number of debates on citizenship, particularly in Europe, where the need for active participation is highlighted as a means of expressing what is to be a citizen.

But what do normative ideas of what citizenship is translate into everyday actions?

Can we really speak of one notion of citizenship?

How far does one identity – or even multiple identities – condition their understanding of citizenship and affect their actions within a society?

In what ways do changing demographics, with the constant mixing of cultures and ethnicities, affect citizenship in the present day?

These are some of the issues we address in this edition of the Resources for Democracy podcast. First, we speak to Dr George Iordanou, who PhD in Political Theory focused on alternative notions of citizenship.

Supplementary Resources

On the Borders of Europe: Citizenship Education and Identity in Cyprus

World Heritage as a Model for Citizenship: the case of Cyprus

Transitional Justice & Citizens’ contribution to Dealing with the Past

Transitional Justice & Citizens’ contribution to Dealing with the Past


Since the turn of the century, the practice and discipline of transitional justice has spread as an effort to apportion justice in times of transition from conflict or state repression. According to the International Centre for Transitional Justice – a global non-governmental organisation based in New York – the term refers to the set of judicial and non-judicial measures that have been implemented by different countries in order to redress the legacies of massive human rights abuses. They all aim to bring perpetrators to account, while at the same time provide recognition of the rights of, and redress through reparations for, the victims. Transitional justice also seeks to promote trust across societies, and the strengthening of the democratic rule of law so as to avoid repeats in the future.

Moreover, the evolution of transitional justice as a social science discipline has enabled research to shed light on some of the previously under-explored impact of legacies of conflict and violence.

What scholars have identified however is that in post-conflict situations there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The transition from conflict is always a unique experience, and the challenges faced by each country are always greater than expected. Transitions provide an opportunity for change i.e. for the establishment of modern democratic structures, however there is also the potential for the consolidation of old power structures.

Civil society has a very important role to play in transitional justice processes. Indeed, it is from civil society that much of the input towards transitional justice comes from. The International Day of the Disappeared, celebrated every year on August 30, was the result of efforts by the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared, a non-governmental organisation founded in 1981 in Costa Rica that brought together local and regional groups working against state practices such as arbitrary imprisonment and enforced disappearances in Latin America.


Supplementary Resources:

Coming to Terms with the Past

The Disappeared and Invisible: Revealing the Enduring Impact of Enforced Disappearance on Women

United Nations Approach to Transitional Justice

Whose Justice: Rethinking transitional Justice from the Bottom-up

Gender, Exclusion and Conflict

Gender, Exclusion and Conflict


For a large majority of people, the terms “gender” and “sex” are used interchangeably. However, the idea that we are born, assigned a sex, and that is that, is now being questioned and challenged.

In fact gender is all around us, and we are conditioned from a very early age to think in a ‘gendered’ way. Meanings and messages are transposed through the way we bring up children, through the education system, through the media, as well as religion, affecting our view of the world.

In most societies, exclusion on the grounds of gender is widespread, both directly and indirectly. This exclusion restricts people’s economic mobility and equality, stops them from gaining positions of political significance, and can deny access to benefits accorded to other members of society.

In this edition of the Resources for Democracy podcast, we talk to Magda Zenon, a women’s rights activist, who tackles the issue of gender from the perspective of women, and explores the interrelation with conflict and how this has played out within the context of Cyprus.

Supplementary Resources

Gender Politics in Trade Unions. The Representation of Women between Exclusion and Inclusion

Women’s Peace in Cyprus

Exclusion of Women (vid)

“Suitably Dressed? How women’s choices have become symbols of belonging or exclusion” (vid)

Gender Inequality and Power (vid)

LSE Gender Institute Podcasts

Deconstructing Globalisation

Deconstructing Globalisation


Almost everywhere you look you can identify facets of how the world is shrinking: from the global refugee crisis, to anti-poverty and climate change protest movements, and from the rise of global terrorist movements to the interconnections and mass mobilisation of the far Right. Indeed globalisation is a complex animal, stretching into different sectors, fields of life, affecting different kinds of people, not just traders and stock brokers.

In this edition of the Resources for Democracy podcast, we talk to Umut Bozkurt, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Eastern Mediterranean University who walks us through the nuances and complexities of what we broadly term ‘globalisation’.

Supplementary Resources

BBC Hard Talk – Discussion on effect of globalisation on developing nations (vid)

Stiglitz on globalization, why(,) globalization fails? (vid)

Beyond Politics – Globalization and National State 05/01/2015 (vid)


The Emergence of Global Civil Society


Financial Globalisation and the Crisis