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What constitutes a local public Ssphere?: Building a monitoring framework for comparative analysis


Fischer, Renate; Keinert, Alexa; Jarren, Otfried; Klinger, Ulrike (2021). What constitutes a local public Ssphere?: Building a monitoring framework for comparative analysis. Media and Communication, 9(3):85-96.

Abstract

Despite the research tradition in analyzing public communication, local public spheres have been rather neglected by communication science, although they are crucial for social cohesion and democracy. Existing empirical studies about local public spheres are mostly case studies which implicitly assume that cities are alike. Based on a participatory-liberal understanding of democracy, we develop a theoretical framework, from which we derive a monitor covering structural, social, and spatial aspects of local communication to empirically compare local public spheres along four dimensions: (1) information, (2) participation, (3) inclusion, and (4) diversity. In a pilot study, we then apply our monitor to four German cities that are comparable in size and regional function (‘regiopolises’). The monitoring framework is built on local statistical data, some of which was provided by the cities, while some came from our own research. We show that the social structures and the normative assessment of the quality of local public spheres can vary among similar cities and between the four dimensions. We hope the innovative monitor prototype enables scholars and local actors to compare local public spheres across spaces, places, and time, and to investigate the impact of social change and digitalization on local public spheres.

Abstract

Despite the research tradition in analyzing public communication, local public spheres have been rather neglected by communication science, although they are crucial for social cohesion and democracy. Existing empirical studies about local public spheres are mostly case studies which implicitly assume that cities are alike. Based on a participatory-liberal understanding of democracy, we develop a theoretical framework, from which we derive a monitor covering structural, social, and spatial aspects of local communication to empirically compare local public spheres along four dimensions: (1) information, (2) participation, (3) inclusion, and (4) diversity. In a pilot study, we then apply our monitor to four German cities that are comparable in size and regional function (‘regiopolises’). The monitoring framework is built on local statistical data, some of which was provided by the cities, while some came from our own research. We show that the social structures and the normative assessment of the quality of local public spheres can vary among similar cities and between the four dimensions. We hope the innovative monitor prototype enables scholars and local actors to compare local public spheres across spaces, places, and time, and to investigate the impact of social change and digitalization on local public spheres.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords:comparative research, local communication, local public spheres, participation, inclusion
Language:English
Date:23 July 2021
Deposited On:03 Sep 2021 04:52
Last Modified:04 Sep 2021 20:00
Publisher:Cogitatio Press
ISSN:2183-2439
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v9i3.3984

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