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TitleMediatization of Politics: Understanding the Transformation of Western Democracies
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Total Pages254
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors
Part I: Introduction
	1 Mediatization of Politics: Towards a Theoretical Framework
Part II: Foundations
	2 Mediatization and Democracy
	3 Mediatization and Political Populism
	4 Mediatization and New Media
	5 Mediatization and Political Autonomy: A Systems Approach
Part III: Dimensions of Mediatization
	6 Mediation of Political Realities: Media as Crucial Sources of Information
	7 Mediatization at the Structural Level: Independence from Politics, Dependence on the Market
	8 Mediatization of News: The Role of Journalistic Framing
	9 Mediatization of Campaign Coverage: Metacoverage of US Elections
	10 Mediatization of Political Organizations: Changing Parties and Interest Groups?
	11 Mediatization and Political Agenda-Setting: Changing Issue Priorities?
Part IV: Conclusion
	12 A Paradigm in the Making: Lessons for the Future of Mediatization Research
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Mediatization of Politics

Page 127

118 Dimensions of Mediatization

disappeared, and the paper was acquired by what is (currently) the largest
stock-listed media organization in Switzerland, namely, the Tamedia corpo-
ration. We consequently assigned the same newspaper to different categories
over the course of time. Second, the circulation of outlets with social and
political ties has been falling more rapidly than the circulation of those with
no (or significantly fewer) social and political ties. In Austria, for instance,
the social-democratic party paper Arbeiterzeitung lost a quarter of its circula-
tion from 1960 to 1980, whereas the popular Kronenzeitung, published by a
private company, gained massively in circulation in the same period, from
around 100,000 to almost 900,000. Third, formerly important newspapers
linked to “intermediary” actors such as the social-democratic Arbeiterzeitung
in Austria, Reynolds News (associated with the Labour Party in Great Britain),
or the Catholic-conservative Vaterland in Switzerland, went out of business.

At the same time, there are clear indications that this growing indepen-
dence from politics coincides with a growing dependence on the market.
In all countries examined, listed companies now play a larger role than
in the 1960s. Thus, expectations of high shareholder value are on the rise,
and more capital is flowing into the press market from companies with no
traditional links to journalism.

Comparing these cases, our analysis supports the three models and the
argument for a growing convergence towards the liberal model while adding
“size” as a factor that explains the heterogeneity within the democratic-
corporatist model. As expected, in the liberal model, the differentiation of
the press from politics and its commercialization starts much earlier than
in the other models. According to our data, Great Britain had only a weak
intermediary press in 1960, and private (commercial) providers – often pub-
licly listed – have dominated the press market ever since. This is not to deny
certain remaining forms of political parallelism at the level of the audience
(van Kempen, 2007) and of content; on the structural side, however, stable
links to social and political actors have disappeared. This phenomenon is
also reflected by the fact that newspapers do not consistently follow party
lines but instead tend to switch sides when this appears to be beneficial for
“commercial reasons” (Kuhn, 2007, pp. 217–218), as demonstrated by the
famous example of The Sun in the 1990s. Typical of a press market that was
commercialized early on, we also saw fluctuations in ownership across the
decades, with rather frequent selling, reselling and launching of press titles
in Great Britain.

Taking a closer look at the democratic-corporatist model, we can observe
a degree of heterogeneity because the processes of differentiation and com-
mercialization had begun much later in the small states, whereas Germany
exhibits greater similarities to the liberal model. One reason for this is market
size, which facilitates economies of scale. Another is the sudden transforma-
tion imposed upon Germany by the Western Allies immediately after the
Second World War (“zero hour”), which allowed a diversified and somewhat

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Linards Udris and Jens Lucht 119

more party-independent press system to develop more quickly than in the
small states. For a time, the structures of a small state constrained the
rapid transformation of intermediary media providers into purely commer-
cial enterprises. Furthermore, in Switzerland, and even more so in Austria,
“pillarization” prevailed longer than in Germany, contributing to the impor-
tant role of the party press (and vice versa). More recently, the Swiss press
has experienced a strong push towards commercialization, with stock corpo-
rations becoming more common (from 0% in 1990 to 47% in 2010). Only
in Austria’s press system do we still observe a significant number of large
press outlets with social and political ties (see, for instance, the role of Styria
Medien, financed by the Katholischer Medienverein of the Diocese of Graz;
see Seethaler & Melischek, 2006) and a comparatively minor role for media
companies traded on the stock market.

The polarized-pluralist model, represented by France in our sample, offers
a more ambivalent picture. As in the other two models, France has seen
an emancipation of its press during the period under study, largely because
“intermediary” titles such as L’Humanité (the organ of the Communist Party)
or La Croix (Christian-conservative) suffered declining circulation rates and
decreasing significance in comparison to (new) titles published by com-
mercial enterprises. Furthermore, outlets forming part of publicly listed
conglomerates have become more important, especially in the last two
decades. At the same time, to a higher degree than in the other two models,
newspapers operating on the polarized-pluralist model often have political
ties and experience strong shareholder pressures because they are traded on
the stock exchange. This situation is best illustrated by Serge Dassault, who
integrated SOC Presse (which publishes titles such as Le Figaro) in his Dassault
Group (which includes publicly traded companies from non-media fields)
and served as a senate member for the conservative government party UMP.
However, we would like to argue that this political involvement differs from
a stable “embedding” of the media in a party milieu because it was limited to
the principal owner, who was more a business-oriented media tycoon than
a political figure. Similar (historical) cases are known from the United States
(Udris, 2012).4

An often overlooked form of differentiation: Growing
stratification of the press

Although the mediatization of politics clearly affects the functional dimen-
sion of social differentiation, reviewing the “giants” of social theory reminds
us that social processes typically show effects in two additional forms of
social differentiation, namely, the stratificatory and segmentary dimensions
(Imhof, 2006). Researchers who study mediatization should consequently
also address phenomena such as new allocations of power in the context
of media concentration and growing inequality, involving an increasing

Page 253

Index 245

effect on social change, 224
implications for democracy, effects on

politics, 224–6
media logic vs. political logic, 231–4
mediatization of politics, effects vs.

consequences, 231
mediatization process dimensions,

situation character of mediatization,

mediatized environments, 42–4
mediatized populism, 49–53
metacoverage, US presidential campaign,

156–8, 160–3, 176–7
ABC, NBC News metacoverage,

164–6, 165t
accountability frames, 2008 campaign,

170, 172t, 173, 174
campaign strategies and, 159–60
candidate-centered campaigns, 158
combined frames, 174, 175t, 176
conduit metacoverage frames, 168–70,

logical outgrowth of mediatized

politics and, 160–2
media strategy frames, 2008 campaign,

170, 171t
mediation, mediatization in, 157–60
metacoverage frames, 168
metacoverage frames distribution,

169–70, 169t
metacoverage topics, frames from

previous literature, 163t
publicity strategy frames, 169t, 173–4
strategy, accountability metacoverage

frames, 170, 171t, 172t, 173–4
topics, political campaign logic,

163–7, 165t, 167t, 163f , 168t

new media
audience dependence and, 61
capabilities, 58–60
citizens and, 62–4
constraints, consequences imposed by,

digital coding and, 58
digital-era governance and, 65–6
as institutions, 95
interactivity of, 58
logic of database, grammar of, 61

media concept and, 95
mediatization of politics and, 57, 62
non-profit organizations and, 66
political communication

capabilities, 67
political organizations responding to,

public opinion and, 59
system-level performances of, 66–7
traditional media and, 59–60, 107
underdetermination, social shaping of,

57, 61–2
Web 2.0 applications and, 63–4

news media logic, political logic
across countries, media within

countries, 19
commercialism and, 18
media technology and, 18–19
mediatization and, 16–19, 19f
polity, policies, politics and, 20
power and, 21, 43
professionalism and, 17–18
self-mediatization, 21, 23, 34–7
situational character of, 19–22

open government, open data, 65–6

passive learning, 101
political agenda-setting

across countries, 205–6
contingency of, by the media, 204–6
defining, operationalizing, 203–4
indexing theory and, 208
integration with mediatization, 206–8
mass media influence across issues

and, 204–5
media agenda-setting potential, 205
media and politics, reciprocal

relationship, 208–10, 229
media influence growth, 211–13
mediatization of politics vs.,

200–2, 201t
mediatized politics, party and issue

competition strategies,
210–12, 214

party characteristics and, 205
political actors and, 203–4, 209–11
Politics-Media-Politics (PMP)

model, 208
popular concept origins, 202–3

Page 254

246 Index

political agenda-setting – continued
time variable, longitudinal

perspective, 213–14
political communication, 39

professional advocacy model, 33
political logic, 231–4

across countries, political institutions,
16, 156

polity, policy, politics, 15–16, 16f
political organizations

adaption, adoption of political actors,

Democratic Party of Switzerland (SPS)
organizational chart, 193, 193t

dichotomy of (one) media vs. (one)
political or party logic, 183–7

mediatization at organizational level,
empirical findings, 191–5, 193t

mediatization at organizational level,
institutional approach,
187–91, 190t

mediatization of political interest
groups, empirical findings, 193t,

mediatization of political parties,
empirical findings, 191–3, 193t

missing theoretical concepts, 181–3
natural vs. open system view, 182

political populism, 44–7
politician–journalist relationships

background of, 32–4, 200–1, 208–13
platforms, windows and, 32
political communication professional

advocacy model, 33
politics and media distinction, 75–6
Politics-Media-Politics (PMP) model, 208
populist leadership, 46–7

populist movements, 45–6
professionalism, 17–18, 19f
publicity strategy frames, 169t, 173–4

reflexive mediatization, 230

self-mass communication, 42
self-mediatization, 21, 23, 230

here today, gone tomorrow, 35
increased complicity and, 34–5
institutional failure portrayal and,

news media imperfections and, 36–7
political rhetoric tone and, 36
predominant framing and, 35

self-referential communication systems
theory, 76–7

simple mediatization, 230
social media, 42, 51–3
spiral of mediatization, 22
sponsored frames, 142–3
strategy and accountability

metacoverage frames, 170, 171t,
172t, 173–4

strategy and game framing, 146–8
surveillance facts, media as political

information source, 100
systems of society, function and

performance, 78–80

tabloid media, newsroom populism,

transcoding, new media, 58–9

US presidential campaign, see
metacoverage, US presidential

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