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Media malaise or mobilization: How do mass media affect electoral participation in established democracies


Müller, L; Wüest, B (2009). Media malaise or mobilization: How do mass media affect electoral participation in established democracies. In: 5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Germany, 10 September 2009 - 12 September 2009.

Abstract

In modern democracies, elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their elected representatives. They allow voters who are dissatisfied with those in power to periodically punish and replace them. However, this requires that political decision-making is transparent and that alternative party options are actually evident in the electoral contest. Accordingly, in line with mobilization theory, we assume that well-balanced and critical media coverage leads to a higher turnout. So far, only few studies exist which test these assumptions in a large comparative setting. To provide more empirical evidence on the relationship between media coverage and political participation, we combine data about press systems and from newspaper content analyses with opinion surveys and perform multi-level analyses. Contrary to our assumptions, we find that an ideological balance within the press system does not motivate citizens to take part in elections. In addition, newspapers reports about official misconduct tend to keep voters away from the ballot boxes. These findings rather lend support to media malaise theory.

In modern democracies, elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their elected representatives. They allow voters who are dissatisfied with those in power to periodically punish and replace them. However, this requires that political decision-making is transparent and that alternative party options are actually evident in the electoral contest. Accordingly, in line with mobilization theory, we assume that well-balanced and critical media coverage leads to a higher turnout. So far, only few studies exist which test these assumptions in a large comparative setting. To provide more empirical evidence on the relationship between media coverage and political participation, we combine data about press systems and from newspaper content analyses with opinion surveys and perform multi-level analyses. Contrary to our assumptions, we find that an ideological balance within the press system does not motivate citizens to take part in elections. In addition, newspapers reports about official misconduct tend to keep voters away from the ballot boxes. These findings rather lend support to media malaise theory.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Event End Date:12 September 2009
Deposited On:27 Jan 2010 14:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:45
Official URL:http://povb-ecpr.org/node/9
Related URLs:http://povb-ecpr.org/
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-27581

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