Media as a Catalyst for Structural Change in Pakistan – Thesis Abstract

I quite literally stumbled upon the prospects of doing a PhD when halfway through my official editorial internship at the Eastern Eye newspaper I was informed by my MA coordinator that I will still have to write a dissertation as partial fulfillment of my MA program as well. Normally a student is given a choice to do either of the two but as it turned out I ended up with a lot of extra work. However, what started of as a mere accident turned out to be a blessing as the learning, networking, contact building and field experience I acquired in the process made my masters experience truly grand besides opening a whole new career opportunity in academia.

I secured a first class on my dissertation supervised by the very able Dr. Brilliant Mhlanga who is a mentor and a great friend. Here is an abstract of my dissertation. Please feel free to post a critique in the comments section. Cheers!

Thesis title: MEDIA AS A CATALYST FOR STRUCTURAL CHANGE IN PAKISTAN

ABSTRACT

This study is an investigation of the rise of the public sphere in Pakistan after the liberalization of media at the end of the Kargil conflict 1999, its implication for public participation in policy making and the potential for structural change of Pakistani institutions as a result. The basic notion of media theory is that politics and ideology of a country have direct consequences on the media power models in a society. If that is the case then does it logically follows that the reverse may also hold true? This is the premise of this investigation. To this effect problems of a colonial past unique to Pakistan and indeed South Asia are juxtaposed with the nature and development of Journalism in Pakistan before and after Independence in 1947 with particular emphasis on the political economy of newspaper and television media after promulgation of PEMRA Ordinance 2002. The study follows a qualitative research paradigm with an interpretive and constructivist epistemology by utilizing a combination of stakeholder mapping technique with a case study paradigm. The findings indicate that the paradigm shift in the mobilization of public opinion after 2001 has caused a significant amplification of public voices, that there is no doubt that private media has emerged as a vanguard for the publics especially under the lens of the Lawyers Movement in 2007 and that there is strong evidence to suggest that public policy is not as ambiguous and arbitrary as Pakistanis are led to believe. The assertions surmise that sorting the right balance in the nexus of power between a socially responsible and authoritative media can theoretically effect a similar healthy change in other institutions of the Pakistani State.

I will upload the link to the entire thesis very soon but if you have any specific queries you can email me directly at siddiqui.aayaz@gmail.com.

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Pursuing a Career in Academia

The reason why many people write about themselves is to satisfy an inner desire to reflect and perceive their thoughts better. Indeed a certain tell tale sign of a blooming novice writer is the subtle reflection of autobiographical accounts in his or her work. And there is no obvious fledgling slave of the pen (or rather a keypad) as I am. The reason behind this often utilized technique is that it gives a tangibility to our otherwise visceral thoughts, just like saying something out loud makes it a ‘happening’. Thus it was with apprehension and mild irritation that I wrote the title for this post given my history of career hopping and the tremendous pressure of standing on my own two feet. Besides the odds against settling in a career of exactly your own choosing are exceptionally high. Am I really going to make it?

For those not well versed with the job description of an academic allow me to elaborate. In its essence an Academic is anyone engaged in higher education and research at a University or other institution with the ultimate objective of becoming a master in the chosen field. Lecturers, professors and the entire spectrum of people with similar titles fall under this profession. Now when we talk about academics we picture hunched back bald men wearing cheap tweed jackets raking of moth balls and pipe tobacco. People we have grown to despise and made fun off since primary school and It is with some chagrin that I admit to being party to some dreadful practical jokes on my school and college lecturers.

However you might be quite surprised to know that college and university professors earn a decent living especially those who are young and on top of their game.  International travel, publicity, fame and prestige, money, flexible working hours etc are some very attractive aspects of an academic career. That and knowing that the work you do contributes to the advancement and growth of society as opposed to sweating it out in an office cubicle makes it a wise career choice.

But as with any other profession it takes time to build. Reputation and personal branding are a very important aspect of the game besides keeping very up to date with developments in the field. People take years to realize these goals. But of course nothing worthwhile is achieved without chopping out a limb (metaphorically) and chewing up some grey matter (not so metaphorically). So as I spend my time these days in front of the computer, reading as many relevant journal articles and books as I can, scrutinizing over government reports, media texts and maintaining a correspondence with industry veterans in my quest to perfect my PhD proposal I too find myself faced with doubts whether I have enough optimism and charisma left to finish this great task.

I had mentally prepared myself for this gruel as I was heading back to Karachi; days of freely roaming the streets of London to converse with intriguing authors, starting the day with the weather report, catching up on the news in the tube amid people of assorted colors, shapes, sizes and I daresay looks, yes its quite refreshing to exchange an innocent flirty smile with a beautiful women during the morning commute gives a certain oomph to the day. All that is in the past now, its back to Karachi…

*Peep *beep *beeeeeeepppppp

Abay ghoor kia raha hai … agay bhar

Bap key road hai kia…

Hahah…

But despite these shortcomings of my home city I can’t help but think about the conversations with people on this subject; living in Pakistan you have time on your hands and when you are not constantly engaged in making round the clock living you can spend time planning and getting inspired, that dreaming big is the only way to dream but most of all instead of looking at this phase with bleak, uncertain and morose eyes one should look at it as raw, uncertain and full of opportunity. I stand firm.

 

 

Pff. Youtube is still banned! I might have to fill this space with a soundcloud plugin. Standby mates.