The prevalence of unformatted user-participation within digital mass media forms such as db.no does not imply the end of the structurally asymmetrical relations between mass media performers and audience. Although mass media institutions righteously experiment with increased user-participation, there is arguably still a need for mass communication in its traditional sense. Following ritual perspectives, mass communication will remain a vital part of the social symbolic process of constructing and maintaining senses of reality and the representation of shared beliefs. In cases of asymmetrical communication processes, social integration depends on audience identification and recognition, rather than on direct interaction (Holmes, 2005). In line with an overemphasis of interactional aspects of communication, there appears to be an overemphasis on dialogue as superior to monologous broadcasting (Peters, 1999). Claiming that mass communication is asymmetrical is hence not the same as claiming that mass communication is inferior to symmetrical forms of communication in a normative sense. This makes it all the more interesting to explore the combination of mass communication and more symmetrical forms of communication emerging in cases such as db.no-debates. Exploring whether these mixed forms of communication change the power relations between mass media performers and audience is beside the point and a futile hope.
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