Mapping Mediated Politics: Some Thoughts on the Indian Case

Date01 December 2018
AuthorDiya Mehra
Published date01 December 2018
Subject MatterNotes on Methods
Notes on Methods
Mapping Mediated Politics: Some
Thoughts on the Indian Case
Diya Mehra1
In the last three decades, there has been an explosion of media platforms, as well as an access to media
by citizens in contemporary India. This short methodological essay considers the relationship of this grow-
ing and diversifying media environment with current political party and social movement politics, as
reflected in the contemporary Indian scholarship, and via my own experience of qualitative fieldwork.
Frameworks for Understanding Mediated Politics
At the outset, it should be noted that this is a developing field primarily because of the changing nature
of the media itself. Based on existing studies in the Indian case, thus, various timelines can be drawn in
reference to the metamorphosis and spread of different media forms and the shifting relationship of
media to the state and politics. In the case of the print media, important landmarks are not only the
Emergency that saw the emergence of a press critical of the state but also the post-liberalization period
which, in Shahana Udupa’s terms, witnessed the increasing commodification of news, its localization
and diversification, including through the rise of regional language media (Udupa, 2015). For the
electronic media, we can chronologically consider a ‘traditional’ media environment of government-
sponsored radio and television that lasted until the 1990s (Mehta, 2008) and a new media environment
starting from the late 1990s that also witnessed a similar and ‘less deferential relationship between the
media and the state’ (Schudson, 2002 quoted in Chakravartty & Roy, 2015, p. 6) Finally, the contemporary
moment is marked not only by interactive and dovetailed technologies, such as television, radio and print
media, but also social media, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, etc., with all of these mediums increasingly
interlinked, and with media companies, political parties and social movements having, and attempting to
build, a presence across platforms that are available to a growing proportion of Indians, and to which
they increasingly turn for news.
In terms of analysis, Nalin Mehta (2008) points out that the recent qualitative social science literature
initially focused on the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a rising political force in the
1990s, given the adept use of mediated forms (television series, CDs, video cassettes, etc.) made by the
Note: This section is coordinated by Divya Vaid (
1 Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi, India.
Studies in Indian Politics
6(2) 303–309
© 2018 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2321023018797774
Corresponding author:
Diya Mehra, Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi 110021, India.

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