Kinga Polynczuk-Alenius is a media and communication scholar with an empirical focus on Poland. In her research and teaching, she deals with such topics as ethical trade, mediated racism and nationalism, conspiracy theories and illiberalism, algorithmic governance, and – most recently – journalism and democracy. Kinga received her doctorate from the University of Helsinki in 2018 and prior to joining IFiS PAN, she was a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.
At IFiS, Kinga is based in the Sociology of Religion department, led by prof. dr hab. Zbigniew Mikołejko.
Mediated re/making of democratic imagination in Poland (MEREDEI)
This project studies the roles that news media play in a democracy at the time when both news media and democracy are considered to be in crisis. Conceptually, MEREDEI offers a novel perspective on how news media can exacerbate democratic backsliding and how they can contribute to its amelioration. It does so by exploring the proposition that news media participate in constructing the horizon of ‘democratic imagination’, approached as the repository of idea(l)s geared towards minimizing domination over nonhegemonic identities and bodies.
Empirically, MEREDEI studies how these different roles are performed by various news media in Poland. Poland is a particularly relevant case here because it encapsulates the entangled crises of democracy and media. On the one hand, the country has become an oft-cited example of democratic deconsolidation. On the other, the unprecedented levels of media polarization and journalistic partisanship in Poland are fundamentally at odds with the democratic ethos of journalism.
Against this background, MEREDEI starts from the assertion that there is a conflict ongoing in Poland that has a potential to redefine democracy. However, it proposes that the struggle does not play out, as conventionally held, between the ‘anti-democratic’ government led by Law and Justice and the ‘(pro-)democratic’ opposition. Rather, the fault line lies between the alliance of political power with the ‘hegemonic domain’ – including mainstream news media on the both sides of the government-opposition divide – and minority groups: women, the LGBTQ+ community, and the racially and ethnically othered.