The role of communication inequalities in disintegration of a multinational society




1.7.2019 - 30.6.2022

Range on year:

0.83 FTE | 2019

Head: Igor Vobič

Research activity:

Social sciences

The phases of the project and their realization:

WP1 – ​Development of theoretical and analytical framework​ (months 1–9) - This work package will produce groundwork for thematic packages and presupposes inclusion of all researchers at the start of the project, with in-depth literature review of existing secondary research. WP2 – Everyday media use and creation of collective imaginaries (months 6–30) - Unit 1 includes: development of detailed methodology, training of undergraduate students, standardised interviews, essay writing, preliminary analysis of interviews and final analysis of the empirical material. Detailed timing of this research unit is connected to student academic year. - Unit 2​ includes: development of detailed methodology, interviews and multimodal analysis. WP3 – Autonomy and nationalism in journalism (months 3–27) - Unit 1 ​includes: development of detailed methodology; data collection; assemblage of material, critical document analysis. - Unit 2 ​includes: development of detailed methodology,identification of potential interviewees, field work with semi-structured face-to-face interviews, analysis of the materials. - Unit 3 includes: analysis of articles, interviews; collection of archive data sources, data supplementation and historical-discursive analysis. WP4 – (In)equalities in news flows and the role of Tanjug (months 9–30) - Unit 1 ​includes: collection of archive data sources, interviews, content analysis, synthesis of results. - Unit 2 ​includes: ​collection of materials for the analysis in the period before the project formally starts, development of detailed methodology, gathering of additional empirical materials, additional fieldwork, analysis of the collected empirical data and materials. WP5 – Communication and dissemination (months 3–36) - Implementation of this work package spans across all thematic work packages. For detailed description of major milestones and deliverables, please see description of WP6 in section 13.

Research Organisation:


Citations for bibliographic records:


This project addresses the impact of communication inequalities as a significant deterrent to generating, obtaining and using information, and participating in social transactions, on the processes of social differentiation and integration. It is primarily focused on the processes of fragmentation and disintegration of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). However, by focusing on the rise of nationalisms ultimately leading to violent bloodshed and demise of SFRY, the project is also designed as a “thought experiment” to enhance our understanding of the contemporary tendencies towards differentiation, fragmentation and disintegration in Europe (e.g. Brexit, rise of right-wing populism) and beyond, which are closely connected to delegitimation of some of the key political and economic institutions in Western democracies. The theoretical basis of the project is the concept of communication inequality, which is defined for the purpose of this project as differences in the access to the means of producing, manipulating and receiving information between individuals and social groups as well as different levels of development of information and communication infrastructure between countries and regions of the world. In order to engage with structural factors shaping communication inequalities and focus on the historical dimension we ground our research in the critical paradigm in communication studies, which has engaged with the dynamics of international communication and media in relation to global structural inequalities, development and economic dependency. The disintegration of Yugoslavia has been the focus of sustained scholarly interest, which has identified a number of factors that have contributed to the rise of nationalism and ethnic hatred in the 1980s. However, the role of the news media and journalism in these processes has been scarcely researched, despite the fact that they represent the principal sphere of production and circulation of ideas in society. To overcome this deficit, the main objective of the proposed project is to investigate the impact of communication (in)equalities on the "life and death" of SFRY as a specific, and to some degree unique, historical case and potential exemplification of wider and more general trends spanning from social integration to differentiation, fragmentation, and disintegration. We will focus our attention both on the internal inequalities between republics and social groups within SFRY and their complex interactions with social disparities, as well as the leading role of SFRY within the Non-Aligned Movement in addressing global communication inequalities. The main research question of the project is: What is (was) the significance of internal and external communication inequalities in fostering and hampering cultural, economic and political differentiation and (dis)integration in multinational society (of the former Yugoslavia)? The project combines political science and historical perspectives and analyses in order to focus on three main research areas (RAs) in which disparate communication capacities of individuals, groups and organisations influenced communication inequalities and their broader consequences in SFRY: (1) Everyday media use and creation of shared memories and collective identities, with reference to national, transnational (Yugoslav) and global (Non-Alignment) imaginaries; (2) Autonomy and nationalism in journalism, with the role of journalists and media content producers in generating communication (in)equalities; (3) (In)equalities in news flows and the role of the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug in creating communication inequalities within Yugoslavia and overcoming them in the international distribution of news.

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