Making Sense of the News in an Authoritarian Regime: Russian Television Viewers’ Reception of the Russia–Ukraine Conflict

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17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Scholars report contradictory findings regarding whether citizens trust media in autocracies. Relying on focus group methodology, this study uses Russian television viewers’ reception of the Russia–Ukraine conflict to investigate media perception in an autocracy. It argues that citizens in non-democracies lack the opportunities, motivation and tools to substantively process news. When perceiving news, they express both critical and supportive reactions towards the regime without integrating them into coherent views and thus support authoritarian equilibrium by being unable to articulate consistent opinions. This argument helps to explain the paradoxes of media (dis)trust and clarifies the process of media perception in authoritarian political systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-359
Number of pages23
JournalEurope - Asia Studies
Volume74
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • political communication
  • news reception
  • political engagement
  • authoritarian regimes
  • Russia
  • Ukraine

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