Alternative media should not be marginal, but central, to the developing agenda of media and communication studies, because they challenge the massive concentration of 'symbolic power' (Bourdieu) in mainstream media institutions and the resulting 'exclusion' of most people 'from the power of naming' (Melucci). Precisely because alternative media organisations, in relative terms, lack symbolic resources, their activities tend to be largely invisible, but that is no reason why, as 'weapons of the weak' (Scott), they should be ignored. With some exceptions, media studies has neglected alternative media for too long, and neglected also the inequalities of symbolic power in which media institutions themselves are involved. But now there is less excuse for that neglect. When the 'digital divide' and the atrophy of representative democracy are hotly debated not only by academics but also by policy-makers, media studies should listen to those who are not prepared to accept their exclusion from the power of naming; they are citizens with something important to contribute to debates about democracy, and in paying more attention to them, media studies can make an important link between its own agenda and urgent agendas in political theory and democratic debate
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