From community to communal media: Lessons for the sustainability of community media from the Bolivarian experience

Rich Potter


This article seeks lessons for the sustainability of community media by looking at its role in Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. It draws on recent theorization to define community media as an articulating mechanism of a maximally democratic civil society. It then situates this understanding in relation to the Gramscian notion of a ‘civil state’, which has increasingly informed Latin American socialism and in which the state’s role is to maximise participatory governance within civil society. The article then analyses the weaknesses of the Venezuelan community media sector under a liberal framework, and attempts to establish a new legal structure that would integrate participatory media with civil society and the Bolivarian ‘commune’ system. These efforts demonstrate that heterarchical institutional structures may best integrate community media with civil society in a manner that assures sustainability and autonomy.


sustainability, autonomy, community media, participatory media, Latin America, Venezuela, socialism, civil society, civil state, heterarchy

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