THE STATE COMMUNICATIONS: THEORETICAL MODEL AND REGIONAL PRACTICE
Published: Collected research articles, Bulletin of Russian Communication Association "THEORY OF COMMUNICATION AND APPLIED COMMUNICATION", Issue 1 / Edited by I.N. Rozina, Rostov-on-Don: Institute of Management, Business and Law Publishing, 2002. - 168 p. P. 35-43.
This article concerns the problem of development a dialogue between the authority and the society. The basic theoretical concepts and historical roots of this problem are analized in it. The specific features of different kinds and channels of the state communication functioning in Russia is examined, and some regional features are found. There are the results of the research into the communicative interaction of the regional government body and the society, carried out in Samara.
In modern Russian sociology and politilogy it is accepted to look at political-communicative processes basically within the pre-election campaigns, when active communications of political leaders and the electorate can be seen. Today electoral communications is one of the most popular themes for the theorists and practical workers, who deal with the problems of information exchange in political system. At the same time, the other aspect of communicative interaction of authority and society, the one pointed to form the constant constructive dialogue with the purpose to maintain the legality of the existing order and giving stability to it, is practically not investigated. There is also hardly a definition, that determines this phenomenon. So, for example, G. Pocheptsov uses the term "the governmental communications" [Pocheptsov, 1998], which seems to be too narrow, because it does not reflect all the variety of levels and ways of communicative interaction between the authority and a society. The definition "the state communications", is more adequate and universal, but this one is seldom used in the conceptual device of Russian scientists.
The nowadays situation considers that the mentioned political communications are not too widely spread and in the practice of Russian political subjects (including the bodies of state management), which during elections prefer a series of powerful information "attacks" to systematic formation of public opinion using the mechanisms of feedback. However, the varying social-political and economic situation in our country also dictates the other priorities in the field of communicative policy. All these transformations require judgement and study, both on theoretical and practical level.
The problem of mutual relation of authority and society excited still ancient Greek philosophers, whose ideas were developed in the works of N. Machiavelli, J-J Roussean, T. Hobbes, J. Locke and other philosophers. The most active discussion on this theme was conducted within the theories of a mass community (G. Le Bon, G. Tarde, J. Ortega y Gasset, K. Mannheim, G. Blumer etc.). Besides, mutual relation in the system "the authority - the controlled" were actively discussed during dwelling on a civil society, which became active on the wave of democratic transformations in the former socialist countries in the 90-s of XX century. All this indicates the high interest to a problem of making a dialogue between the authority and the society, and its information component.
The greatest contribution to development of notions of the mechanism and components of politic-communicative processes was brought, to our mind, by the representatives of the methodological methods like behaviorism (G. Lasswell, P. Lazarsfeld), cybernetic ( N. Wiener, K. Deutsch) structural-functional (G. Almond, J. Coleman) and the communicative itself (J. Habermas, H. Arendt, M. Foucault). Analyzing the progressive process of development of methods of communicative process in the system of state government, it is possible to ascertain, that consideration of the state communications, as unidirectional process of communicator's influence on the audience by various means, was replaced with much attention to the feedback, which gives the political system stability and efficiency of development. The communications is now considered as the major function of any system. And finally, the researchers came to the conclusion that any social system (including political) is a product of human interaction based on mutual understanding and the consent, that becomes possible, first of all, as the result of communicative interactions.
The state communications is the regulating and coordinating mechanism in mutual relation of the state and the society, it provides stability and efficiency in functioning of social body in whole. The mission of the state communications is to carry out the following functions:
- the conservative function, pointed to keeping the status-quo of the state system, that provides the stable existence of social body;
- the coordinating function, pointed to provide the coordination of authority influence of the ruling subject according to parameters of object of management, and their possible changes;
- the integrating function, connected with realization of the state policy, which would take into account the interests of all elements of social system, which would provide making and taking the coordinated administrative decisions;
- the mobilization function, pointed to the ensuring of legality of the existing social order, providing the society support and approval of the accepted administrative decisions;
- the socializing function, connected with adopting of social-political norms, values and traditions of the state, increasing the level of political competence of the citizens during the information exchange.
All these functions have different importance in the various periods of life of this or that state. For modern Russia the main, to our opinion, is the function of decrease of social intensity, which is pointed to ensure the further movement in the field of democratic transformations.
The process of the state communication consists of the elements, typical for any communicative act. These are: the communicator (the subjects of state management of various branches and levels of authority); the message itself (official and informal information, oral or written, verbal and not verbal); the recipient (the society as a whole, various institutions of the civil society, a personal recipient); channels of distribution of the information (interpersonal, institutional and mass); channels of the feedback (requests, applications of the citizens, various forms of political participation etc.); process of coding - decoding of the information (preparation of the information messages, their adequate interpretation by the audience etc.); various sorts of noises (technical, semantic, psychological). In the considered process it is possible to find various kinds (depending on the branch of the authority: legislative, judicial, executive), levels (federal, regional, local), directions (vertical, horizontal), and each of them has both its own specificity of functioning and a set of the used technologies and methods of interaction.
It is possible to classify the methods, the forms and channels of the state communications according to the different bases. The famous researcher of politic-communicative processes R.-G.Schwartszenberg [Schwartszenberg, 1992] points out the following channels:
1. communication via the informal channels;
2. communication via organizations;
3. communications via mass media.
The method of the communications via informal contacts or interpersonal dialogue is one of the most ancient, it existed in primitive communities. But even now, in modern political systems having the advanced network of means of the mass communications, it plays a significant role. In this method two basic aspects can be seen. The first is connected with the situation, when the communications is carried out via interpersonal dialogue as the basic channel of giving and receiving the information. This channel is marked with the greater emotional connection between the communicator and the recipient, which makes it sometimes much more effective, than, for example, mass media.
The other aspect of the communications via informal channels is that the interpersonal dialogue is included in the process of broadcasting and adopting of the information by means of mass channels. P. Lazarsfield demonstrates it in his research, marking, that some information broadcasted by the means of the mass communications is not perceived directly by the a mass audience. The influence here comes via the intermediaries - "the leaders of the opinion". They are more prepared for perception of the information, they are more informed, they better understand the flow of the messages of mass media and they always can show their opinion in this or that information ground. Thus, the messages of mass-media first are adopted by "the leaders of opinion", and then, by the means of interpersonal dialogue to the mass audience.
The next method of the state communication is the communications via organizations. The link between the authority and the controlled here are the political parties and groups of interests, which mediate the mutual relation between political system and the environment. These institutions are called "gatekeepers", and they are to articulate and cumulate the group interests.
The third main channel of the state communications is mass media, which plays more increasing role in spreading the political information in the modern society.
Dealing with the channels of informational interaction of the authority and its structures in modern Russia, it is possible to note, that the basic channel of informing in the system of state ruling is mass-media, which becomes, as a matter of fact, a powerful subject of authority, and with its help it "purposefully constructs the political orders" [Soloviev, 2000]. And the increasing role of mass-media as the channel of the state communications occurs in the practical absence of information interaction with the help of other channels.
But for finding some certain channels of communication, it is important, to our mind, to classify the methods of informational interaction used by the contractors of the communications. For the typology of such methods of the state communications the way, offered by Russian politologist A.I. Soloviev, seems to be the most suitable. He managed to divide the widest variety of actions in the political-information space into two types: propaganda and marketing [Soloviev, 2000]. The propaganda type represents rigid ways of the information control of peoples' minds. The propaganda tries to overcome the basic conscious restrictions of an object of influence, becoming a manipulating process. The examples from History show, that the State had frequently enough used the manipulating methods, like misinformation (using the false items of information, replacement of the true items of information by false, using fictitious information), defamation, the technology of "white noise" (glut of the information field), technology of the spin-doctor (change of semantic accents of the information) etc.
To overcome possible negative consequences of use of such rigid methods of information influence are supposed the marketing strategy of construction of communicative interaction. They are formed in conformity with the laws of supply and demand of information services.
From the second half of the XX century, the political marketing demonstrates "the steady tendency to expansion of its methods, thinking, and technologies in the sphere of state ruling" [Morozova, 1999]. Political public relations and political advertising are traditionally regarded as political marketing technologies.
The basic feature of methods of the state PR, as the technology of communication links formation, is that here is used indirect, and consequently, faint communicative influence in comparison with direct and strong influence, which the propaganda represents. Thus, defining the specificity of application of PR technologies in the state ruling, it is possible to see public relation to influence on public interest. This can be done by means of coordination of interests, during which:
a) The interests of a society turn to favourable expectation of the ruling initiative;
b) The ruling initiative is corrected in conform to the expectations of a society [Miroshnichenko, 1998].
Most full PR and advertising technologies are put into practice during marketing campaigns, carried out by the state, which are a part of democratic process of acceptance of the state decision.
The western practice of functioning of directing bodies has many examples of realization of effective communication campaigns. So, in France in the beginning of 70-s of XX century the campaign for safety of road movement has started. It lasted several years and gave positive results. By the 1987 the French government has already carried out 37 similar campaigns with the total cost 236,7 mln. francs. [Morozova, 1999].
In this country such type of strategic and long-term planning of public relations has not yet been wide spread, because of many reasons connected both with objective reasons inherent in the subjects of the state communications (instability of political and economic situation does not promote development of such communication forms), and with the subjective, internal contradictions in development of state management system, like absence of experience, knowledge of communication methods, and also unwillingness of the officials to build a dialogue with the population within the new, frank, democratic bases.
The process of communication in Russian system of state management is determined by the leading role of the state-communicator.
In our country the state was considered traditionally as extremely strong, dominant institute. As U.F. Oleshchuk, the Russian researcher in the field of problems of state management points out, this incredibly powerful authority and the traditional special importance of the authority provoked two public emotions, opposite and natural: the great hope and the great hatred to it [Oleshchuk, 1998]. The destruction of habitual "Soviet" systems of tutelage and control has caused some evident change of estimations and expectations concerning the state. So, after a series of research, carried out by the Russian research centre VCIOM in 1989, 1994 and 1999, the opinion of the Russian people has practically lost the idea "the state favoured us with everything..." [Levada, 1999]. At the same time, the readiness to sacrifice anything for the sake of the state has sharply decreased. The researchers of VCIOM have fixed in the whole the increased demonstrative estrangement of the people from the state, that in turn provides negative influence on the estimation of activity of bodies of management and level of trust to them.
In the background of obviously negative attitude of the population to the bodies of state management, the researches have fixed one more tendency. The state officials were sharply negative concerning the importance and utility of participation of the citizens and institutions of a civil society in ruling, and the necessity of the citizens' control of the authority structures.
Thus, the basic contractors of the process of state communication are obviously negative to each other, that does not promote any development of the constructive information exchange between them.
Nevertheless, the state communications gradually becomes one of the important parts of the social-political life of the country. At the regional level it is distinguished by a number of specific features. The research, carried out in the Samara region, examined the communicative interaction of the regional body of management (the Administration of the Samara region) with the society, and it allowed to find some distinctive features, which can be obviously met in the other subjects of Russian Federation. During the research there were interrogated the representatives of the basic participants of the process of state communications: the inhabitants of the region (N=1200), the officials (N=80) and the journalists (N=72), that allowed to carry out the complex analysis of the investigated phenomenon.
According to the results of research, the distinctive feature of the regional state communication is the high level of its personification. Information policy of the Administration of the Samara region, as the results of daily monitoring of published and electronic mass-media show, in the period from October 28, till August 31, 2001, was directed mostly on representing activity of the first persons of the region. According to the data of this monitoring, the quantity of representing activity of the Samara region Governor considerably exceeds any of structural divisions of regional administration (table 1). So, in the researched period the amount of the articles concerning the Head of the region, almost four times exceed the amount of the articles concerning the activity of the most represented at that moment the Fuel and Energy Department. The number of the TV programs, in which the Samara Governor appeared, has twice exceeded the similar parameter of the structural division of the Administration of the region mentioned above. It has the result of making the personified image of regional authority in mass media, thus the important directions of the executive authority work are ignored.
- Levada U. A. "The Soviet Man" Ten Years After: 1989 - 1999 (preliminary results of comparative research) // Economic and Social Changes: Monitoring of Public Opinion. The information bulletin. 1999. №3 (41). - p. 7-15.
- Miroshnichenko A.A.. Public Relations in Society-Political Sphere. Provincial Practice. - Moscow: An Expert Bureau, 1998. - p.144.
- Morozova E.G. The Political Market and Political Marketing: Concepts, Models, Technologies. - Moscow: ROSSPAN, 1998. - p. 247, ill.
- Oleshchuk U.F. The State Machinery in Russia // World Economy and International Relations. 1998. № 4. - p. 131- 135.
- Pocheptsov G.G. The Theory and Practice of the Communications. - Moscow: The Centre, 1998. - p. 352.
- Soloviev A.I. Politology: The Political Theory, Political Technologies. - Moscow: Aspect Press, 2000. - p. 559.
- Schwartszenberg R.-G. Political Sociology. Part1. - Moscow, 1992. - p.121.
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Department of Journalism,
Samara State Pedagogical University,
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