Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Mass media, public sphere and social changes

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.06.00  Social sciences  Political science   

Code Science Field
5.06  Social Sciences  Political science 
Mass media, public sphere, publicness, democracy, privacy, mediatisation, globalisation, digitisation, journalism, audiences, social media, internet
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on April 16, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  112  609  552  4.93 
Scopus  168  1,085  970  5.77 
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  31973  PhD Jernej Amon Prodnik  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  259 
2.  58161  Neja Berger  Political science  Junior researcher  2023 - 2024  13 
3.  56991  Tonja Jerele  Political science  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  10 
4.  32353  Jasna Jugovič    Technical associate  2022 
5.  35496  PhD Jernej Kaluža  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  197 
6.  52925  PhD Tanja Kerševan  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  52 
7.  52077  Jan Kostanjevec  Political science  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  20 
8.  30964  PhD Boris Mance  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  40 
9.  15258  PhD Melita Poler Kovačič  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  253 
10.  29056  PhD Aleksander Sašo Slaček Brlek  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  114 
11.  03661  PhD Slavko Splichal  Political science  Head  2022 - 2024  721 
12.  26349  PhD Ilija Tomanić Trivundža  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  227 
13.  29384  PhD Igor Vobič  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2024  267 
14.  54745  Nina Žnidaršič  Political science  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  13 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  40,379 
The research programme is based on a comprehensive understanding of publicness, as advocated by the founders of the principle of publicness, Bentham, Kant, Marx, and Dewey, and further developed, analysed, and supplemented by many other authors. It is focused on six key theoretical dimensions and their empirical manifestations: (1) Visibility is the foundation of publicness as it brings to the forefront reporting on developments in the socio-political environment with important long-term consequences for citizens. (2) If actions of political authorities become visible, the public (as a social category and a "medium of publicness") can control political authorities and legitimacy of their decisions. (3) Citizens' access to the communication channels, which are necessary for their "public use of reason," encourages the formation and expression of public opinion. (4) Reflexive or critical publicity creates and cultivates democratic discursive order. (5) Mediation between the ruling and the ruled, between decision-making bodies and civil society is the foundation of freedom of the press, which, together with the right to public expression, is constitutive of the public. (6) Empowering the public through institutionally structured discourse enables the translation of public opinion into the formation of political will and its effective implementation. These dimensions also point to the key functions of media and journalism that our research will focus on in the period 2022-2028. Publicness, like its communication infrastructure, is not a static construct, but a dynamically structured process that is not external to other social changes, but is their (essential) part. While technology and software (e.g. algorithms, artificial intelligence) have a significant impact on the dynamic changes of publicness and journalism, which has played an important role throughout the history of publicness, they are not the only factors in its transformation. The transformation of publicness is the result of the interaction of new technologies (that enable and encourage changes in communication) and social actors who, with their needs, interests and values, also change the nature and functions of publicness. The nature of publicness does not change due to the technological characteristics of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but depends on how they are used in society by individuals, and how society includes them in its development and accordingly regulates them. Based on these starting points, the research programme Mass Media, Public Sphere and Social Change will be conducted in the period 2022-2028 in four directions with four work packages: 1. Digitisation of publicness: theoretical (re)conceptualisations and empirical transformations, 2. Social consequences of algorithmisation and platformisation of communication, 3. Crisis of journalism in the relationship between government and the public and 4. Media regulation in the age of digitisation.
Significance for science
The research programme Mass Media, Public Sphere and Social addresses theoretical, normative and empirical issues of relations between the media, public sphere, democratic development and governance. Its scientific and socio-political relevance is clearly confirmed by the latest Horizon Europe programme (2012-27), which in thematic area 3 (Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society) specifically promotes research in two areas on which our research programme is focused: (1) Media for democracy - democratic media; and (2) Politics and the impact of online social networks and new media. New forms of internet communication are intertwined with political life. They enable people to participate in public life and democratic political participation. During the COVID-19 virus pandemic, digital modes of communication (including the use of social media) spread to such an extent that they became a ubiquitous part of education, healthcare, online commerce, public administration services, and political processes. However, recent developments have also raised concerns about their ability to protect citizens from misinformation and to serve the public by providing a balanced and open public forum for democratic debate, regardless of social status, economic privileges, internet skills and online experience of members. Social platforms and new media are increasingly perceived as an environment particularly conducive to the creation of ideological "echo chambers," leading to the erosion of the space of public dialogue. They contribute to the polarisation, radicalisation or depoliticisation of society, the spread of misinformation, and are foten subject to manipulation. Their decisions about what to prioritise or what to censore or ignore are (despite their public denial and apologies) deliberately made, supported by their internal rules, and have no mechanisms to ensure the rule of law. By allowing abuses by authoritarians and allowing instrumentalisation to covertly influence citizens' political decisions, the platforms have shaken the impression of their democratic character. In line with public research and innovation goals, as reflected in Horizon Europe as well as in the EU post-pandemic recovery plan, our research programme will continue to explore ways in which the media and their users can contribute to a healthy and revitalised democracy, the changes wrought on democratic processes by new technologies, and the conditions for improving the quality, accountability and transparency of media production and distribution processes, and contributing to a more resilient democratic institutional framework. Normative concepts of the public sphere and (the principle of) publicness representing the very heart of the concept are central in (a) conceptualising the role of the media in social and political life of contemporary democracies, and (b) providing a richer basis in theory and empirical evidence for debates over political and cultural implications of the processes of digitisation, mediatisation, globalisation, and commercialisation in media and society at large. The research programme will provide an updated view on these processes to feed into future research in the field.
Significance for the country
The research programme will not only provide an updated view on the processes of the transformation of the public sphere and publicness to feed into future research in the field, but also inform policy and practice of mediatised governance, and contribute to the development of political (communication) culture in Slovenia. This is particularly important during and after the pandemic, as we are witnessing, on the one hand, the erosion of democratic standards and fundamental rights, and, on the other, political efforts to completely transform our society. In Slovenia, a strategic council for digitization has recently been appointed with a broad scope and with the aim of promoting digitization in the economy, public sector and public administration, but without fundamental rights and democratic mechanisms at the forefront. Citizens need to remain at the core of these innovative changes; they need to be informed and made aware of what technological innovations are, how they can impact everyday public and private life, and particularly, they must see their fundamental rights preserved. Thus, an important objective of the research programme is to contribute to debates on policy initiatives aimed at strengthening the public sphere, to enhance capacities for digital citizenship and to raise awareness among (science) policy makers of the importance of taking up those essential questions and challenges by producing evidence-based recommendations to address the opportunities and challenges for political behaviour and democratic engagement presented by social platforms and social media. The development of social media also influences the journalistic profession, which is one of the objects of study in the research programme. Specifically, as part of the curriculum development of active citizenship in secondary schools coordinated by the National Education Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, the research programme team members will prepare training of secondary school teachers in a series of lectures on media, digitalisation and participation. According to the curricular documents for the introduction of active citizenship in secondary schools, media and digital modes of communication are integrated into the notion and practices active citizenship, where questions of mass media roles in public opinion formation, boundaries between public and private spheres, and changing place of journalism in the digitized social life are of particular importance in this respect. Digitisation of social communication is reflected in transformations of journalism as work and occupation. The research findings of the programme will significantly contribute to the development of media and journalism studies and understanding of dynamic relations between audiences and journalistic practices. They will be implemented in education of journalism (under-)graduate students and professional journalists. In order to accomplish these objectives, a participatory action research will be conducted, allowing the research programme team to develop knowledge and understanding together with the social actors investigated (i.e. journalists, editors and other newsworkers). To reflect transformations of journalism as work and occupation and professional expectations, the research programme team will cooperate with the Society of Slovenian Journalists (Društvo novinarjev Slovenije) and the Union of Slovenian Journalists (Sindikat novinarjev Slovenije). These reflections will be presented and further discussed on events organised by the European Journalism Training Association (EJTA) and incorporated into course amendments of the (under-)graduate journalism programme(s) at the University of Ljubljana.
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