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Unchained airwaves a cultural analysis of free radio in France, 1977-1981 /

by Dalle, Matthieu.

Abstract (Summary)
Born in the spring of 1977 and illegal until the election of François Mitterrand to the French presidency in 1981, free radio stations have dramatically altered the world of French radio. Local and specialized (mostly political, musical, and community-based), free radio stations were started by small teams and operated with modest technological means. They offered a true alternative to existing national stations. To the uniformity, rigidity, and solemnity that were the trademark of France Inter, RMC, RTL, and Europe 1, they responded with diversity, originality, and spontaneity. This dissertation proposes a cultural analysis of free radio between 1977 and 1981, with the aims of elucidating an ill-defined media and social phenomenon and using this phenomenon as a prism through which to better understand contemporary France. Cultural analysis is defined as the careful examination, the deciphering, and the interpretation of cultural phenomena and the relationships they entertain with the context (political, social, economic, etc.) which both forms them and is influenced by them over time. The overarching perspective for this study is interdisciplinary, using theoretical and methodological borrowings from cultural studies in general and French culture studies in particular; political science; and history: political history, social history, history of the media, cultural history, and what has come to be known as the history of the present. As such, this study is ultimately conceived as a contribution to the cultural history of present day France through the object ‘radio’. The study shows how, in the field of media, free radio stations acquired legitimacy through the enormous amount of press coverage devoted to them between 1977 and 1981—a legitimacy which this coverage in turn illustrates. Moreover, the study demonstrates the considerable impact these stations eventually had on the composition, the actors, and the production of the entire field of radio, relatively impervious to change until then. In the political sphere, on one level, free radio was used as a communication tool by leaders and militants of various parties across the political spectrum, looking for exposure on the airwaves. On another level, it was a major topic of debate in the political arena, creating divisions within both the left and the right, and ultimately revealing the fragmentation of the French political landscape. Finally, from a social and cultural standpoint, by favoring local, non-hierarchical mediated communication, free radio tried, without always succeeding, to be part of an effort to redefine the interpersonal relations that constitute the foundation of society— that is to expand the public sphere and revitalize the very notion of community. iii
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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