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Module 3: Changing structures and actors of political communication

All democratic systems are confronting the increasingly powerful role of the media in politics. The decline of party-controlled media and the rise of independent, commercially minded media have transformed mass communication. As an increasingly independent power center, mass communication today operates autonomously, according to its own economonic and symbolic logic.
 
Module 3 seeks to understand the nature, significance, and implications of this process in which the mass media are moving from being merely a channel of communication to being a major actor in the political process. The module analyzes both changes within the media system which have important implications for the democratic process, and the influence the media and its specific logic exert on political organizations and on the political process more generally.
 
In phase I, the module was composed of four projects: 
  • IP 8 developed an analytical tool to describe how mass media systems are constituted and how they operate in various societies. Thus, a typology of media systems was created with the goal of facilitating an informed debate on the impact of mediatization on democracy.
  • IP 9 investigated to which extent the mass media are a challenge to core political organizations such as governments, political parties, interest groups, social movements, etc. that have traditionally dominated democratic politics. 
  • IP 10 analyzed how the mass media are a challenge to the democratic mode of operation and core negotiating institutions, to what extent their logics of action are compatible, and what happens when these logics are incompatible or collide.
  • IP 22  studied the structural and cultural influences (such as media policy, media ownership, organizational news routines, professional values) which challenge the mass media's ability to meet democratic norms in their political news coverage.
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