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IP 8 (Phase II): Mediatization of political interest groups: Changes of organizational structure and communication repertoire

This project examines whether and how interest groups have changed their communication repertoire and their organizational structure during the last ten years as a reaction to the growing importance of the media in politics. Interest groups play an important role in democracies as they serve as intermediaries between the state and society: they provide information and avenues for participation; they also foster legitimacy by explaining and implementing policies.

It is assumed that interest groups that traditionally have relied on lobbying activities are also increasingly forced to address the general public and to use the mass media or online channels for communication. This raises the question of whether interest groups are governed by a political logic or a media logic. Media logic may be at odds with the logic of the democratic process; for example, the media have a much faster turn-over of topics than political decision making-institutions. Therefore it is important to analyze the effects of mediatization on interest groups as important actors in the political sphere.

The project will do so by studying approximately 600 interest groups in three countries: Switzerland, Germany and United Kingdom. A special focus lies on the aspect of new technologies and online communication: to what extent and to what purpose do interest groups use online media for their communication, and what is the impact on their organizational structure and behaviour?

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Project leaders:
Prof. Patrick Donges, University of Greifswald
Prof. Otfried Jarren, University of Zurich

Postdoctoral researcher:
Dr. Erik Jentges, University of Zurich

Doctoral student:
Matthias Brändli, University of Zurich

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From left: Erik Jentges, Patrick Donges and Matthias Brändli.