UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Accountability in the metropolis: a media content analysis across European city regions


Hasler, Karin (2014). Accountability in the metropolis: a media content analysis across European city regions. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Abstract

To be informed about political news and policy making processes is a sine qua non in representative democracies. Moreover the media’s role in pointing out who is to be held accountable, who is responsible for policy decisions and to whom policy competence can be attributed is maybe the cardinal function of the media to society (cf. Gurevitch and Blumler 1990). Through the media, policy actors become accountable to the wider public – the electorate – not only in elections, but in the news media. In this respect it is argued that independent media and political communication are a resource of democratic legitimacy for policy makers and their actions. By being a forum and an actor the media provide public accountability to society and thereby through communication contribute to the democratic legitimacy of the political system. But how do the media portray political responsibility and accountability in public communication? What are the influences and determinants of accountability in public? Are complex governance networks a hindrance to the clarity of responsibility?
Today’s policy making processes are intertwined and multilayered, whether on an international or on a domestic level. Denationalisation processes (Zürn 2000) together with the forces of globalization, create political spaces that ignore traditional boundaries. Metropolitan areas are an example of such new political spaces that have evolved over the last decades. They are typical multilevel frameworks where citizens are subject to decisions by different political actors from different political orders. An increase of scientific interest in metropolitan governance structures (Sellers 2005; Kübler 2012) discusses specifically the question of accountability, since decisions in metropolitan multilevel structures are not always made by an institutionalised government, but more often by loose governance networks (Kübler and Schwab 2007; Goetz et al. 2002). This is due to the fact, that more and more policy fields, for instance transport planning or economic promotion, do not affect individual municipalities only, but whole regions, usually around big cities. As a consequence, metropolitan areas can either build up new institutions that are not restricted to one municipality but govern the whole region; or all affected municipalities have to coordinate their interests, maybe even together with private actors such as transport companies, to solve regional policy problems. In the latter case, it is argued that citizens might not understand who is responsible for policy changes, and do not have any chance to sanction actors who do not represent their interests.
That is when the media’s role in pointing out who is to be held accountable and to whom responsibility can be attributed becomes crucial. Moreover, it is particularly in those multilevel governance arrangements where democratic legitimacy is scarce and where public accountability may fill the gap.
Taken together I argue that legitimacy through political communication is constructed and that media and political system characteristics shape the way policy actors are held publicly accountable and the way responsibility is attributed to them. A quantitative comparative investigation across European city regions based on content analysis of metropolitan newspapers will be the framework for the analysis of public accountability.

To be informed about political news and policy making processes is a sine qua non in representative democracies. Moreover the media’s role in pointing out who is to be held accountable, who is responsible for policy decisions and to whom policy competence can be attributed is maybe the cardinal function of the media to society (cf. Gurevitch and Blumler 1990). Through the media, policy actors become accountable to the wider public – the electorate – not only in elections, but in the news media. In this respect it is argued that independent media and political communication are a resource of democratic legitimacy for policy makers and their actions. By being a forum and an actor the media provide public accountability to society and thereby through communication contribute to the democratic legitimacy of the political system. But how do the media portray political responsibility and accountability in public communication? What are the influences and determinants of accountability in public? Are complex governance networks a hindrance to the clarity of responsibility?
Today’s policy making processes are intertwined and multilayered, whether on an international or on a domestic level. Denationalisation processes (Zürn 2000) together with the forces of globalization, create political spaces that ignore traditional boundaries. Metropolitan areas are an example of such new political spaces that have evolved over the last decades. They are typical multilevel frameworks where citizens are subject to decisions by different political actors from different political orders. An increase of scientific interest in metropolitan governance structures (Sellers 2005; Kübler 2012) discusses specifically the question of accountability, since decisions in metropolitan multilevel structures are not always made by an institutionalised government, but more often by loose governance networks (Kübler and Schwab 2007; Goetz et al. 2002). This is due to the fact, that more and more policy fields, for instance transport planning or economic promotion, do not affect individual municipalities only, but whole regions, usually around big cities. As a consequence, metropolitan areas can either build up new institutions that are not restricted to one municipality but govern the whole region; or all affected municipalities have to coordinate their interests, maybe even together with private actors such as transport companies, to solve regional policy problems. In the latter case, it is argued that citizens might not understand who is responsible for policy changes, and do not have any chance to sanction actors who do not represent their interests.
That is when the media’s role in pointing out who is to be held accountable and to whom responsibility can be attributed becomes crucial. Moreover, it is particularly in those multilevel governance arrangements where democratic legitimacy is scarce and where public accountability may fill the gap.
Taken together I argue that legitimacy through political communication is constructed and that media and political system characteristics shape the way policy actors are held publicly accountable and the way responsibility is attributed to them. A quantitative comparative investigation across European city regions based on content analysis of metropolitan newspapers will be the framework for the analysis of public accountability.

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Monograph
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:24 Feb 2015 16:32
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:06
Publisher:Nomos
Number of Pages:303
ISBN:978-3-8487-1470-4
Additional Information:Abhandlung zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich.
Related URLs:http://www.nomos-shop.de/Hasler-Accountability-Metropolis/productview.aspx?product=22845

Download

Full text not available from this repository.

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations