On 28 November 2013 Ragne Kõuts-Klemm will defence her doctoral thesis "Media-connected society: the analysis of media content and usage patterns from a systems-theoretical perspective" in the Council of the Faculty of the Social Sciences and Education.
Supervisor: Professor emeritus Senior Research Fellow Peeter Vihalemm (University of Tartu)
Opponent: Professor Joachim Trebbe (Freie Universität Berlin)
The main question of this dissertation is: How is integration supported by media communication? The preliminary condition for the constitution of a society is defined by the communicative bonds between different parts and levels of society. The mass media plays a central role in that it allows for different parts of society to be mutually informed, both on the very broad scale and on different levels. The answer the question of the dissertation will not only be applied to its application on the level of society as a whole, but also in terms of individual subjects. By illuminating the macro-structures of journalism content over long period in three countries the dissertation has shown that media communication can offer self-descriptions of society and cognitive world horizons for the system level. Based on the Finnish example conclusion is made that if the mass media can operate as an independent system in society, the most important element in a functionally differentiated contemporary society is the discussion surrounding the rules and norms that hold us/society together. In the periods of social changes, media communication becomes more pluralised, with intense discussions and more frequent references to the past and future - like it was the case in the Estonian and Russian newspapers during almost the whole 20th century. On the other side, individuals can contribute to the society through communication - this presupposes that the individual is 'connected' if he/she follows different media channels and -content. Different individuals, who are characterised by different interests, preferences, needs and skills, are based on the combinations of those aspects connected to the different media channels and -content. The audience fragmentation is not treated as the encapsulation. From the systems theoretical perspective it seems that fragmentation of media use is a strategy suitable for application to a hyper-complex society - it enables individuals to be connected to media communication in diverse ways. For the next empirical study the hypothesis will be raise that a hyper-complex society can only be managed through the communication of well-educated individuals.