Martin Marinos (Harriman Postdoc 2017-19) has just published his monograph Free to Hate: How Media Liberalization Enabled Right-Wing Populism in Post-1989 Bulgaria (University of Illinois Press, November 2023).
“An original interpretation of the role of the media in the rise of populism, drawing on the political economy tradition of media and communication research. High-quality interviews and on-site fieldwork add originality and significance to the book.”
—SABINA MIHELJ, coauthor of Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding Socialist Television
Bulgaria’s media-driven pivot to right-wing populism parallels political developments taking place around the world. Martin Marinos applies a critical political economy approach to place Bulgarian right-wing populism within the structural transformation of the country’s media institutions. As Marinos shows, media concentration under Western giants like Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and News Corporation have led to a neoliberal turn of commercialization, concentration, and tabloidization across media. The Right have used the anticommunism and racism bred by this environment to not only undermine traditional media but position their own outlets to boost new political entities like the nationalist party Ataka. Marinos’s ethnographic observations and interviews with local journalists, politicians, and media experts add on-the-ground detail to his account. He also examines several related issues, including the performative appeal of populist media and the money behind it.