Newcastle University Business School

Event Item

The changing role of the media in organizing: lessons from the carnival of Brexit

Date/Time: Wednesday 16 October, 14:30 - 16:00

Venue: Room 4.32, Newcastle University Business School

In this paper we address a gap in understanding around the broader role of the media in organization studies. We argue that the media has a constitutive role and further, in an increasingly discursively competitive public sphere, the media’s role is being transformed and in a way that makes the media a more potentially disruptive force in organization than previously understood. To illustrate our argument we investigate the EU Referendum campaign in the UK, interrogating the editorial content of five leading media organizations (print newspapers) over a ten-week period. Using the work of the Russian literary theorist Bakhtin to conceptualize such discursive contest we show how the public debate was carnivalized and in the result (the UK voting to ‘Leave’ the European Union) this carnivalization was rewarded. We offer insight into how the carnivalization of debate in an exercise of media power has the potential to challenge and destabilize the status quo making organization and organizing even more unpredictable, and pointing to future research into the role of the media as a problematic actor for organization. Moreover, we theorize that when commonly held beliefs are weakened, as, for example, in the aftermath of the financial crash or the Eurozone crisis, carnival has a greater potential to disrupt, with both unpredictable and potentially perverse consequences.

Guest speaker - Jeannine Holstein