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Political Communication

The theory and empirics of political communication form one of the research foci of the chair. Research on political communication deals with the preconditions, contents and consequences of freely accessible communication on all matters of public concern.
It encompasses media-mediated and direct forms of communication. Its preferred object of study is the communicative dimension of the production, enforcement, and mediation of collectively binding decisions in the democratic polity. Special attention is paid to the observation of stability and change of political communication in times of technical and social transformation. In the recent past, suppositions about a fundamental structural change of public, political communication, for example, due to the greater availability and use of digital technologies, have dominated. This strongly technology-deterministic perspective all too often leaves out social, cultural and political aspects. It is true that technical progress initially creates potential for change. However, the extent to which this potential will be exploited or will materialize depends on a variety of factors and remains an open question. It is also an open question whether the (non-)use of this potential will have an advantage or a disadvantage for the functioning of democracy.


Discourse Data for Policy [DD4P]

08/2020 – 09/2022

Competitive institutional HHU funding


For evidence-based policy-making and its adequate public communication, an understanding of social discourses as well as their temporal development and dependence on social and media events is necessary. Especially in dynamically developing fields of political action such as the Corona pandemic, migration or climate policy, data from social media discourses offer opportunities to identify social trends, opinion patterns and behavioral intentions. The interdisciplinary project DiscourseData4Policy (DD4P) aims to use methods from AI and machine learning to make social online discourses on Twitter understandable and to enable a better understanding of dynamic interactions between social events, political measures and their social acceptance. Against this backdrop, the project continues to investigate the extent to which such discourse data can inform the political process and what impact this has on citizens' perceptions of politics.

Project website: dd4p.gesis.org

Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski, Christian Koß

In interdisciplinary cooperation with Prof. Dr. Stefan Dietze (computer science, HHU/GESIS), Prof. Dr. Stefan Harmeling (computer science, HHU), Prof. Dr. Martin Mauve (computer science, HHU), Jun.- Prof. Dr. Tobias Escher (sociology, HHU), Dr. Christopher Starke (media studies, University of Amsterdam)

Mediatization of Political Interest Representation in Germany [working title] 10/2021 – expected  2025

Dissertation project


Media-based public communication has become increasingly important for interest groups, such as associations, NGOs and social movements, as an instrument for influencing political decisions (outside lobbying). This development can be understood as a phenomenon of the mediatization of politics. However, against the background of the different logics of media attention generation on the one hand and political decision-making on the other hand, it seems to be in need of explanation why interest groups choose the way via media publicity to influence political decision-making processes.

The dissertation project therefore addresses, on the one hand, the question of which notions of the relationship between media resonance and political influence underlie the use of outside lobbying by interest groups in national contexts. On the other hand, it examines how lobbying activities based on these conceptions affect the political chances of success of different interest groups. The aim is to be able to make statements on the basis of the empirical investigation of these questions about the extent to which interest groups with limited direct access to politics can compensate for this influence deficit through media work and about the extent to which the balance of power in the system of political interest representation in Germany is changing or has changed as a result of mediatization.

Gerrit Philipps

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