French 'Star Citizen Bloggers': A Significant new Media Actor in the National Public Sphere?
The aim of this research is to enlighten the recent increase of alternative information producers on the web in a context of the ‘mutation’ of and crisis in the mainstream media. The case of the French ‘star’ bloggers is of interest for being an essential figure of selfmedia tool use, reaching a wide audience on a daily basis, providing them with great visibility in the public sphere. More precisely, we will be focusing on the ‘citizen blog’ type, sharing the typology and definition provided by a previous academic study: ‘a passionate non-professional information producer from everyday life’. The reason for this work was triggered by these authors’ claim of a decentralised and democratic way of blogging, providing the closest approximation of the deliberative model and Habermas’ original concept of the public sphere (Cardon and Delaunay-Teterel, 2006). The main question then would be: regarding their advantageous positions in public sphere debates, are the French ‘star citizen bloggers’ providing some kind of influence in a delimited field? The main idea is divided into three main questions: which position do the French ‘citizen bloggers’ have, compared to other information actors? What kind of discourses are they providing? Does their ‘communicative action’ have significant consequences in the French public sphere? Regarding the position taken in this work, we borrow from the sociology of networks’ theories and methods and we propose a selfmediaadapted notion of ‘influence’ and ‘audience’, thus updating the old mass media sociological concepts and criticising the trivial definitions used nowadays by the media or the bloggers themselves. Concerning the discourses, guided by a previous academic study, stating that any kind of blog post always implies a political topic (Candel and Jeanne-Perrier, 2007), we would argue that they are also providing a ‘technologified’ vision of politics, constructing the symbolic idea that technology (ICTs) is to be considered the key point in the process of becoming an ‘ideal citizen’. On ‘communicative action’, we would like to argue that this kind of blogger manages a set of ‘techno-scientific’ skills (Pelissier, 2006) in order to make their blogs exist. The aesthetical choices for the blog’s interface, the management of links, the quickness and regularity of the posts, the relationships and the deliberative model they provide with their ‘audience’ are such tactics or strategies (Marchandise, 2007; De Certeau) that allow them to become a really interesting source of inspiration for mostly professional actors like politicians, academics, ‘smaller bloggers’, online versions of press and firms.