The Effects of Glasnost in Georgia


  • Khatuna Maisashvili
  • Natia Svanidze


Glasnost, media, ideology, socio-cultural effects, perception


By the end of the existence of the Soviet Union and in the last decade of the twentieth century, Sovietology, as a branch of the science almost completely transformed into science of Glasnost. In Russia as well, the most part of the studies conducted by the scientific research institutions operating in the domain of the political science in Russia, concentrated on studying  Glasnost. Glasnost, as a multidimensional phenomenon, was studied from a number of perspectives, including through the prism of Western, European and American viewpoint as well as from the Russian perspective itself. the phenomenon was studied as an exclusive model of interaction between the politics and media; it was studied as a sociocentric and mediacentric phenomenon, etc. However, notwithstanding such intensive interest, blank spots and blurred lines still remained in the world science of Glasnost. Respective blank spots mainly concerned the specific characteristics of science of Glasnost on the national peripheries of the former Soviet Union. The present article is based on an assumption that there was no sole and unique, specific understanding of Glasnost in both media and public consciousness in Georgia (as well, as probably, in Baltic states). On the basis of the provided desk and qualitative research, as well as in-depth interviews and working with the focus groups, present article studies and analyzes the effects of Glasnost politics (1985-1990) on Georgian society by the end of 1980-ies and beginning of 1990-ies. Namely, the research question is as follows: How did the Georgian society perceive Glasnost? Did it grasp a difference between so called central/Russian Glasnost and the reflection of Glasnost in Georgia? The research was conducted in three stages: at the first stage, intensive (in-depth) interviews were held with 10 respondents. The aim of the in-depth interviews was to ensure that the answers of respondents provided systemic description of political, social and cultural context of Glasnost, as well as the conceptual frame of perceiving and processing of Glasnost-related information. Respondents were selected following three substantial criteria: a) uninterrupted (rather than occasional) experience of Glasnost era reader; b) conscious experience of consumption of media products of Glasnost period; c) experience of consumption of Russian and Georgian periodicals. The second stage of the research concentrated on processing of the texts of the in-depth interviews using the compression method -  statements and claims containing the certain attitudes and evaluations towards Glastost, were extracted. 50 such statements were extracted. During the third stage of the research, the statements containing above mentioned attitudes were scaled with semantic differential by using the experimentally designed panel.  The outcomes of the research provided a snapshot of the outcomes of Glasnost with two solid dimensions: 1) intentional effects and 2) time effects. The said effects were clearly recognized in the process of evaluation of general Glasnost as well as the Glasnost related media and content. In terms of general Glasnost, the conclusion is clear that there was no clear line in the perception of general and specifically Georgian Glasnost in the Georgian society. Said is demonstrated by the quantitative values of this paradigmatic pair and its detachment from the system of correlation. Intended and unintended dimensions of Glasnost were identified within the frames of intentional effects. At the level of individual reactions, general Glasnost was mistakenly considered as an access to the censored/restricted reading material that was interesting before it became mainstream and transformed into the category of a serial literature of mass culture genre [we can thus observe short-term intended effect]. Another effect in this regards was the aspect of truthfullness of the Glasnost stories. Respondents state that they perceived Glasnost stories as disa covery of the historic truth, restoration of rightness and fairness. Later on, when such stories became mainstream, the reader became suspicious of their truthfulness and the aim of their retrieval. The respondents indicated significant effects, including media campaigns, ideological propaganda of a certain type, knowledge sharing (historic, political, cultural) via media, diversified content of news (so called diffusion of news) as the the intended outcomes. Unintended effects took forms of the individual as well as collective reactions and the emergence of the new means of media control, creation of modern myths, etc. In this case the periodic dimensions vary: individual and collective reactions to media are short-termed, whether media control, myth creation and their exploitation is intended for a long-term use.


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