Module 4: Changing processes and strategies of political participation and representation: comparing public debates
Public debates have become the most important democratic instrument that enables an exchange of opinions between political actors and citizens. Public debates can only evolve through the mass media, which means that they are mediatized by nature. This module studies the mechanisms, strategies and processes public debates are based on. It investigates the communication processes and reciprocal influences between the relevant actors in a public debate on a specific topic linked to globalization simultaneously in five countries (Germany, Italy, France, UK, and Switzerland).
By comparing data on media news reporting, on strategies of political actors and on public opinion in these countries, the researchers aim to find out how debates evolve in varying contexts. The research results will show to what extent the debate evolves in a country-specific or in similar ways and which kind of actors dominate the debate.
The research is characterized by intense cooperation between political scientists and communication scientists in four interlinked projects that analyze the various aspects of the dynamics of public debates, each focusing on one particular type of actor:
IP 11 studies strategies of political actors trying to influence the salient arguments throughout the debate;
IP 12 focuses on the strategies and contents of the news media;
IP 13 examines the effects of the public debates on citizens' attitudes; and
IP 14 concentrates on public opinion expression.
The research builds on three projects in Phase I (2005-2009) in which Module 4 investigated the communication processes between the above mentioned actors in political campaigns.