Democratic Media and Social Movement Theory
Increasingly the collective identity involved in our global society is turning from sociopolitical to sociocultural. People who are organizing are doing so to bring attention to the growing divide in the subculture and the state. This can be seen in the development of the Occupy movement in that occupy does not call for representation in our current political structure, nor does it (on the whole) support one part over the other. Instead an entire shift away from the authoritarian, concentrenic political make up is called for. This shift in sociocultural mindset plays out in the media - corporate or otherwise.
Inside of this concern is the theoretical paradigm of media democratization. According to Carroll and Hackett, in their article in Media Culture and Society, media democratization "comprises efforts to change media messages, practices, institutions and contexts (including state communication policies) in a direction that enhances democratic values and subjectivity, as well as equal participation in public discourse and societal decision-making." The idea behind this, according to the article, is an alternative media that allows for more voices to be heard, with the belief that the media has become such a dominant factor in our society, that it has become the best way to spread ire with the State.
Carroll and Hackett cite the creation of IndyMedia in 1999 as one method of doing this. This will even the scales, essentially, that have been unequal for quite some time. What is meant by this is that traditionally, social movements have needed the corporate media to expand their message, but the corporate media does not need social movements for copy. By creating a deomcratized media platform and using it to spread the messages of the movement, without the filter of corporate media.
Within this theoretical paradigm it should be noted that independent media platforms do not need to rail against corporate media (inevitably they will) as they confront the structure and praxis of these corporations by simply existing. By demonstrating to the larger, more mainstream public, that there are other avenues of media consumption, the achilles heel of corporate media is exposed. For its success it needs to maintain that hegemonic control over media consumption, and demonstrating that other platforms exists challenges this implicit (and sometimes, explicit) assertion.
For further reading, Carroll and Hackett, Democratic media activism through the lens of social movement theory. Media, Culture and Society. 2006 Vol 28. Other theoreticians who can be drawn upon include those in the New Social Movement Theory School, Melucci, Offe, Habermas and Eder. For those in the Resource Mobilization Paradigm, Tilly, McCarthy and McAdams.