“Community Media” in Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies

Document Type

Chapter in a Book

Publication Date



Long before digital devices put the means of media production and distribution into “users’” hands, and participatory culture became an academic and industry buzzword, community media have provided everyday people access to the channels of public communication. From a historical perspective, then, community media constitute a prefigurative form of contemporary social media practice: a dynamic, contested, and frequently messy means of cultural expression, civic engagement, and democratic communication. Unsurprisingly, scholars and practitioners employ an assortment of terms, such as “alternative,” “citizens,’” “grassroots,” “participatory,” and “radical,” to explain how and why local populations make use of electronic media for community communication. Despite or perhaps because of these disparate labels, and the inferences and emphases associated with each, researchers take an interdisciplinary approach to community media studies, including but not limited to perspectives from political economy, cultural anthropology, media sociology, and technology studies. Once a marginal field of inquiry, the literature of community media is expansive. For purposes of this bibliography, we begin with work that takes up conceptual issues in community media studies. Next, this article considers various forms of community media: broadcast radio and television, cable access TV and participatory video, computer-mediated communication, and more recent innovations associated with digital technologies. Subsequent sections consider ethnic, diasporic, and Indigenous community media respectively. The final section demonstrates that community media is a rich, if somewhat neglected site of local, national, and global cultural politics. Throughout, this bibliography aims to guide readers to some of the more compelling, revealing, and illustrative literature on community media.