Mediated Contestation in Comparative Perspective

Research question/goal: 

This project aims at elucidating a fundamental if somewhat neglected context for democratic governance, namely the role of mediated public communication in processing political conflict in Western democracies. Mediated contestation is a core element of modern democracy and features prominently in most contemporary theories of democracy. The concept comprises all forms of communicative political conflict that are a) discussed in mediated public communication or b) for which mediated public communication is directly used by conflict parties (organizational or individual media activity such as blogging etc.). The project will study the extent, structure and style of mediated contestation in six democra- cies. It will investigate how these patterns of mediated contestation vary in dependence on three groups of attributes of national contexts, on the one hand, and media, on the other: (a) the nature of the political system (majoritarian versus consensus), (b) the existence of a deep cultural division (contested versus uncontested secularism) and (c) the type of media forum (traditional versus new, and general news versus opinion media). The features of mediated contestation are captured through a combination of automated and human-coding variants of quantitative media content analysis.

Current stage: 

Preparations of a funding proposal for this project are in its final stages and it will be submitted to the German Research Foundation in January 2014. An article developing and applying empirically parts of the project’s analytical framework has been published in Political Communication in July 2013. Another paper, demonstrating the theoretical approach of this project, was presented at the 2013 International Communication Association conference in London.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2016
in preparation
Data Sources: 
Quantitative media content data (own data gathering)
Geographic Space: 
6 Western democracies