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This chapter seeks to understand how formal and informal leaders forge alliances in democratisation conflicts. It compares case studies from Serbia, Kenya and South Africa—three countries that have recently experienced democratic transitions. Drawing on the concepts of hybrid political arrangements and strategic communication, it unpacks the role of the media in crafting and conveying narratives that bestows legitimacy to some actors through the (re)framing of the past. In doing so, it argues that, far from being observers of the conflict, the media are active participants, shaping other actors’ strategies and contributing to advance some narratives. It also suggests that there is a lurking risk that the state could slide back into authoritarianism or be hollowed out and captured by undemocratic forces.

Original publication





Book title

Media, Communication and the Struggle for Democratic Change: Case Studies on Contested Transitions

Publication Date



185 - 204