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Aliaksandr Paharely. Press and the Public Sphere in the West Belarusian Village in 1920s–1930s.

Press and the Public Sphere in the West Belarusian Village in 1920s–1930s Aliaksandr Paharely The article deals with the role played by the interwar Belarusian Christian Democratic periodicals in an attempt to form a public sphere thus engaging West Belarusian peasants in political, social and cultural discussions and drawing them into political and cultural activities of Belarusian Christian Democrats and other political parties and groups. A critical approach toward the concept of the public sphere is used.
The Belarusian Christian Democratic activists saw press as a crucial instrument in shaping and influencing public opinion in the village. The article specifically focuses on the newspaper “Bieіaruskaja Krynica” (“Belarusian Wellspring”) and its contribution to the process of formation of the public sphere in the West Belarusian village.
West Belarusian peasants had to participate in the public sphere following certain rules learning to construct their messages along certain ideological lines. Belarusian Christian Democratic periodicals and “Bieіaruskaja krynica” in particular, tried to use the elements of rural oral culture and traditional village sociability to promote its political agenda of modern era of mass politics.
However, the increasing pressure from the Polish authorities, the declining political life and growing apathy of rural dwellers all resulted in the interaction with the press becoming a substitute for face-to-face meetings and political discussions. Thus, public sphere had a symbolic character whereas the notion of the public was largely pertaining to the events and vocabulary of political, cultural and economic life.