Media Regime Disruption and the Conditions of Public Reflexivity

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This article examines public debates about disruption to the media regime of Western democracies precipitated by the Trump and Brexit elections. Delli Carpini and Williams introduce the media regime concept to explain how media and politics in a given era hold together structurally and are superseded. This article highlights what conditions for public reflexivity emerge during such a disruption and transition, while renewal of media and political institutions continues in parallel to disruption. I explore the conjuncture of formats, contexts, and content in 2016–2019 elite public debates. I find that these broadly map onto the macro-, meso-, and micro-level changes Delli Carpini and Williams identify. I use this to demonstrate the form and content of reflexivity claims generated as elite actors attempt to give meaning to these changes. Despite uncertainty in these debates, there is normative value to the attention generated on fundamental questions about the nature of connectivity and the nature of the social. This disruption presents opportunities for scholars to build new research trajectories and inform public debate as we transition to a new media regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6113-6132
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


  • democracy
  • media regime
  • disinformation
  • reflexivity
  • social media

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