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Module 4: Changing processes and strategies of political participation and representation

Democratic systems are currently undergoing a profound shift from “party democracy” to “audience democracy,” in which politics is becoming increasingly “media-centered.” More specifically, representative democracy has become characterized by:
  • a decline of political parties and a corresponding rise of media-centered forms of political communication,
  • an increasing personalization of politics, and
  • a reinforcement of populist forms of political communication as demonstrated by the rise of the radical-populist right throughout Western Europe.
Under these conditions, political campaigning, mobilization and communication are gaining immensely in importance. Module 4 addresses the implications of this “mediatization of politics” for political participation and representation. In phase I, it analyzed the reciprocal influences and exchange processes among the relevant actors in political campaigns – political actors, the media and the citizen public.
Three interlinked projects studied the dynamics of political campaigns, each focusing on a particular category of actors:
  • IP 11 concentrated on the campaign strategies of political actors: How do political actors try to influence public opinion? What strategies do they use? To what extent are they responsive to the demands of the media and the public?
  • IP 12 examined the role of the media in political campaigns: Does media coverage simply reflect campaign rhetoric or do the media actively construct political rhetoric on their own? How do the media influence public opinion and political actors’ communication strategies?
  • IP 13 analyzed the role of public opinion: How do individuals form their political opinions during campaigns? Under what circumstances do opinions change? How do political and media strategies impact public opinion and vice versa. 
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