Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Mass media, the public sphere and social changes

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.06.00  Social sciences  Political science   

Code Science Field
S265  Social sciences  Press and communication sciences 

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
Researchers (17)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  31973  PhD Jernej Amon Prodnik  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2021  259 
2.  16116  PhD Karmen Erjavec  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2015  645 
3.  32353  Jasna Jugovič    Technical associate  2017 - 2021 
4.  35496  PhD Jernej Kaluža  Political science  Researcher  2019 - 2021  197 
5.  52925  PhD Tanja Kerševan  Political science  Researcher  2019 - 2021  52 
6.  52077  Jan Kostanjevec  Political science  Junior researcher  2018 - 2021  20 
7.  22286  PhD Metka Kuhar  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2017  631 
8.  30964  PhD Boris Mance  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2021  40 
9.  15258  PhD Melita Poler Kovačič  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2021  253 
10.  34127  PhD Tomaž Pušnik  Political science  Junior researcher  2015 - 2017  63 
11.  29056  PhD Aleksander Sašo Slaček Brlek  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2021  114 
12.  03661  PhD Slavko Splichal  Political science  Head  2015 - 2021  721 
13.  10661  PhD Janez Štebe  Sociology  Researcher  2016  371 
14.  26349  PhD Ilija Tomanić Trivundža  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2021  227 
15.  29384  PhD Igor Vobič  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2021  267 
16.  53340  Mojca Žerak    Technical associate  2019 
17.  54745  Nina Žnidaršič  Political science  Junior researcher  2020 - 2021  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 
This research programme will analyse the media from the perspective of the public sphere and focus upon the media’s relationship with democracy. It will provide a richer basis in theory and empirical evidence for debates over political and cultural implications of processes of digitisation, mediatisation, globalisation, and commercialisation in the information and knowledge society. The core of the programme is its focus on the extent to which the media have become central to political and social life and so important to the political institutions and practices of a society that they are intrinsic to them. The research programme will focus on the relationship between the media and the public sphere and its consequences for society in five main dimensions. The first is the dimension of achievements and failures of the Internet in democratising public communication. The main question is whether the online media and networks can lead towards a cosmopolitan (transnational) public sphere or rather towards fragmentation of mass audiences and dissociated issue publics, and what specific social conditions are responsible for those developments. The second dimension is the relationship between the public sphere and the nation-state. The question is then whether this is a process of cultural and discursive emancipation and the beginnings of the construction of transnational public spheres or, on the contrary, is a further tightening of the screw of refeudalisation which places the key centres of power outside the structures of democratic accountability and rational critical debate. The third dimension addresses the roles of ‘mediators’, ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’. The questions here are what are the nature and role of mediators (‘newsworkers’) and audiences; what is the relationship between cultural production and consumption; and how they are influenced by economic, social and cultural stratification? Related to this is the fourth dimension of rhetorical forms used and identities appealed to within the range of modern media and the changing nature of publicness, in which various interactive and participatory modes of online journalism take place to challenge broader issues of democratisation and deliberation in the public sphere. We are interested in whether interactivity of contemporary journalism discourse involves rational-critical deliberation, and how has the relationship between journalists and audiences being changed in relation to news production? The fifth dimension is that of the controversial relationship between publicness and privacy, confidentiality and secrecy as its opposites, which became a burning issue with recent WikiLeaks’ and E. Snowden’a actions towards disclosure of ‘classified, censored or otherwise opaque documents’ to the public record. Our research will address the implications of the increasing use of new media technologies to facilitate everyday social transactions for privacy and the principles of democracy.
Significance for science
This research programme addresses normative-theoretical and empirical issues of the relationship between the media, public sphere and democratic development. The recently published ESF Forward Look Report Media in Europe: New Questions for Research and Policy (2014) suggests that “an important avenue for research in the field, which ties in with our considerations on participation, concerns how the public sphere is being altered through the use of new media, namely social media platforms, by politicians, citizens and alternative news services”. Similarly, the Work Programme 2014 – 2015 of Horizon 2020 – in section “Europe in a changing world: inclusive, innovative and reflective societies” – postulates that “research is expected to … contribute to debates on policy initiatives aimed at strengthening the public sphere to allow for more open and more rigorous debate on European topics within national media.” The normative concept of the public sphere – with the principle of publicness representing the very heart of the concept – is 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. Contemporary problems of (representative) democracy and attempts of democratic theory to overcome the ‘democratic deficit’ are closely related to those processes. The research programme will not only provide an updated view on these processes 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. An important objective of the research programme is to raise awareness among (science) policy makers of the importance of taking up those essential questions and challenges.
Significance for the country
Exploring changes in the public sphere, communication effects and barriers in the (Slovenian) political space, and the changes in this area brought about by new media is crucial for understanding the broader social and political context in which modern democratic institutions operate. Our research provides an updated view intended to feed into future research in the area and participation in the international division of labour in the European research area and university education as well as to inform policy and practice and develop (political) culture in Slovenia. Research into communication processes in the formation and evolution (or decline) of the public sphere, accounting for the development of mass media, journalism and alternative strategies of public (re)presentation, is of crucial importance to understand complex contemporary media(ted) societies and social changes in general. Preventing all attempts to subordinate free communication activities of the people to political and economic institutions is crucial to maintaining a holistic and autonomous development of individuals and society as a whole. Issues of further development and regulation of the mass media in the context of European institutions are important for Slovenia’s future. In Slovenia the use of new media is widespread in various domains, especially in transmitting the content of traditional mass media via World Wide Web as well as in the extensive use of social networks media, in particular by younger generation (e.g. blogs, twitter, social network media such as Facebook, Second Life). Slovenian profit, non-profit and nongovernmental organisations use new media to communicate with their publics. In the last decade many specialised agencies emerged that offer services of planning and developing various types of ‘new media’. It is therefore especially important to follow the implementation of new technologies in communication and political processes in Slovenia over time to explain them both terms of theory and empirical significance and thereby contribute to the understanding of the use of new media and changes in the public sphere in Slovenia. New media are often believed to have an important emancipatory potential that would enable the empowerment of citizens, but obviously this potential could also be abused. This is specifically reflected in various strategies used in hate speech comments in news web sites; these findings may be particularly useful for the media companies to formulate ways of restricting hate speech. The development of new media also influences the journalistic profession, which is one of the objects of study in the research programme. Our research findings will significantly contribute to the development of media and journalism studies, to the understanding of audiences and journalistic practices; they will be also implemented in journalism and communication education.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, interim report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, interim report
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