We are currently engaged in a range of projects on different aspects of communication.
We are currently engaged in a range of projects on different aspects of communication.
With the increasing digitalization of our contemporary societies, «Computational Social Science» (CSS) has become an established field of research over the last couple of years. As a subarea of social science, CSS focuses on computational methods – such as network analysis, text and data mining as well as computer simulation – to examine social phenomena and processes. Due to technological change, these methods have become more and more relevant as they enable to systematically analyze massive digital datasets.
External service providers and partners such as consultants and communication agencies play an important role in the organization and success of organizations’ strategic communication. So far, the cooperation between organizations’ communication departments and external service providers was investigated only by an economic point of view. The result is a lack of theoretical and empirical approaches in the field communication science.
The new research project, led by Prof. Röttger and Dr. Wiencierz, investigates the question, how current and future collaborations between communication departments and external service providers are shaped. Particularly important is the question, how organizations’ changing internal structures for coordinating and cooperating are effecting the structures and processes of cooperation with external providers (cue: agile management).
Schon seit geraumer Zeit sensibilisieren die empirischen Sozialwissenschaften für die sprichwörtliche „Macht der Bilder“; und nie zuvor waren die Verfügbarkeit und Präsenz von Bildern so ausgeprägt wie im Zeitalter der neuen Medien und sozialen Netzwerke. Gleichzeitig beobachten wir enorme soziale Verwerfungen innerhalb der Gesellschaften, die sich in eine zunehmende Protestbereitschaft von BürgerInnen übertragen und in Form sozialer Bewegungen (PEGIDA etc.) und der Gründung neuer Parteien (AfD etc.) verfestigen. Vor dem Hintergrund der Theorien der kommunikationswissenschaftlichen Framing- sowie der politikwissenschaftlichen Partizipationsforschung untersuchen wir im Projekt «Still Images – Moving People» den Zusammenhang zwischen der Rezeption, Einordnung und Verarbeitung von positiv und negativ gerahmten Medienbildern ausgewählter Protestbewegungen und ihrer Protest-Issues auf die politische Partizipationsbereitschaft der BürgerInnen.
The research project is part of the Collaborative Research Center 1265 “Re-Figuration of Spaces” (Coordinating university: TU Berlin). The center investigates changes in experience and constitution of space in light of processes of globalization and digitalization. In this framework, our project examines the spatiality of the “Twitterspheres” in the cities of Berlin and Jerusalem. Asking how virtual urban spaces are constituted through networked communication, we investigate communicative relations among Twitter users, their spatial locations, and the topics they talk about. The study also examines how individual users synthesize global and local, virtual and real, public and private references, and explores the subjective experiences of space involved.
The digital society offers new possibilities for democratic participation as well as for disseminating manipulative content. Strategic agents are abusing the easy access to digitally generated publics to spread online propaganda, fake news, fear and hate speech. Such manipulative online content has been assumed to play a crucial role in radicalizing individuals, fostering social polarization, and weakening democracy per se.
Municipal communication is facing great challenges due to extensive changes in the media and the public: For example, the number of media channels to maintain is increasing and the target audience is becoming more diverse. Therefore, municipal administrations have to handle a tremendous increase and differentiation of communication activities. So, the coordination of the communication of departments and interfaces is becoming an important challenge of the present and future.
The project aims to analyze the role of the media in the life of the chancellors, i.e., to reconstruct their media biographies. A comprehensive understanding of media biographies includes life and professional experience before and during office as well as the interplay with media actors during the career.In addition to their high formal and informal power in the chancellor democracy, the persons under investigation particularly symbolize politics and the social and cultural change of their time and in their generation. They were required to develop strategies to present their decisions in public and represent them with their acquired personal style. Furthermore, experiences related to the media also played a constitutive role in the biographies of some of the chancellors and possibly also for their later relationship with the media as they were actively involved in journalism.Certainly, biographical accounts on the persons we are interested in exist, but they only mention the media among many other topics, if at all. There are also a number of studies specifically related to the media, but the state of research is rather sketchy. We have largely reviewed the existing literature and we would now like to pass from these secondary sources to an analysis of primary evidence. In addition, we can draw on our own preliminary theoretical works.
The project compares the mediatization of organizations from the social fields health, politics, law and science. Mediatization is an active process that - from the perspective of actors - serves to preserve or enhance their performance. The concept of mediatization describes adaptations to (perceived) media logic, that ensure access to services of mass media, particularly the service of providing public visibility and attention for issues, events and organizations. Dependent on the role of public attention for the performance of organizations from different social fields, the need for mediatization of these organizations should differ, too. For example, political parties have a strong need for public attention in order to ensure their performance (e.g. elections). The performance of hospitals on the other hand is relatively independent from media coverage. The study asks, if and how such differences influence the mediatization of actors and their relation to mass media.
Nowadays, people worldwide discuss and comment societal and political developments on the Internet, for instance on social media platforms or on news websites. Not only journalists rely on social media as a source for ‘trending topics’ or offer their users the possibility to state their opinion publicly on the Net. Beyond the desired space for free expression of public opinions, such Internet offerings also provide options for large-scaled concerted manipulations. Semi- to full automatized systems, so-called ‘propaganda-bots’ or ‘social-bots’ (mis-)use the easy access to the (technical) infrastructure in order to covertly disseminate certain public opinions ’en masse’. Such propaganda attacks can result in a distorted image of the digital public opinion. This distorted image could then influence the single user, societal debates, and coverage and therewith finally cause severe damages.
Groundbreaking technologies change not only our daily lives and habits but also affect our perceptions, feelings, communication structures, and self image. Never before, however, has the discussion of the impact of a technological development on mental health been as intense as it has been since the introduction of the internet. One would expect psychiatric experts to take the lead in this discussion. At present, most of the commentary by psychiatrists and psychologists seems to be as influenced by their own attitudes towards modern technology as it is by empirical data and scientific insight. There are reasons for this. While one need not look far for inflammatory discussions of „internet addiction,“ a scientific debate amongst psychiatric professionals on this topic is seldom to be found. Despite the fact that many of the accusations found in the media about internet use can be disproven, they continue to enjoy great popularity.
The responsibility of corporations is discussed vividly in the public. Moreover, when it comes to issues such as energy revolution, financial crises or low wages, sceptical attitudes towards businesses become apparent. These doubts about the credibility of corporations and the diverging expectations may indicate an inconsistent understanding of the responsibility of corporations. While common research about corporate social responsibility (CSR) discusses mostly ideal conceptions, one important question remains: How are judgments on responsibility actually constructed in the public discourse? By comparing the perspectives of media, citizens and corporations, the research project aims at investigating factors influencing the attribution and evaluation of the responsibility of corporations as well as at detecting differences and co-orientation between corporations, media and citizens.
What effect will digitalization and big data have on corporate communications? Increasing digital networking has emerged as the most important megatrend. However, individualization and globalization have also had a significant impact on corporate communications. This research project therefore focuses on the potential of big (social) data for corporate communications - but always within the broader context of an increasingly globalized and individualized communication. This project is part of the research program "Value Creating Communication". Researchers from universities in Leipzig, Münster, Wien, Hohenheim-Stuttgart and Berlin are set to collaborate with international researchers and corporate communications executives.
The project focuses on a question which could not be answered during the Priority Program „Mediatized Worlds“ so far: It aims at analyzing how dynamic processes of digital mediatization are initiated particularly within the home. For this purpose, the media use will be traced within households where mainly digital media are used and where classical media only have minor relevance. This research interest builds upon insights from the previous projects which were part of the Priority Program. A qualitative panel study with three examination periods (2008, 2011 and 2013) based on a sample of 25 couple households, systematically allocated by quota according to socio-demographic criteria, has already been conducted in order to grasp the changes of the mediatized home in a longitudinal analyzis over six years. Household studies in the form of qualitative, ethnographically oriented interviews were at the core of each examination phase.
The research training group examines how trust can be developed and maintained under the conditions of new forms of communication. Digitized means of communication change the structure and sustainability of trust because firstly, familiar face-to-face communication is replaced by digitized interactions, secondly, virtual social and office networks emerge and finally, because new forms of relationships between the public, organisations and individuals develop. The postgraduate programme analyses the consequences of these processes for the establishment of trust relationships by the example of four prototypical areas: media, economy, science and sports.
Since 1993, taz readers are regularly questioned about their use and evaluation of the newspaper. Analyses from 1993, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2010 offer insights into the readers' profiles and their relationship to the project "tageszeitung". In 2010, an explorative survey among kiosk buyers was conducted as well as a survey among users of taz.de, the newspaper's online portal. Also, a survey among the users of zeo² und members of the taz association was conducted in 2014. The studies are commissioned by the taz.
The project aims to analyze the phenomenon of cyberbullying, especially looking at its influencing factors, its patterns and its effects on adolescents. Following a multi-level approach, not only the personal level but also structural and systematical factors will be considered. In a longitudinal perspective, dynamics of the cyberbullying process will be analyzed.
The opportunities of public communication have been extended by social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. On the internet journalistic “gatekeepers” are not central mediators of topics and opinions anymore.
The project aims at looking at the change of domestic communication cultures in a process-oriented manner. It is based on the understanding that the digital mediatization of the home is becoming more and more dynamic because of the internet and other media.
The study analyses the relations between media, sciences and politics in order to examine the following research questions: How do science and politics observe each other via mass media communication? Which impact has this reciprocal observation on decisions with science and politics? These questions are examined with focus on selected scientific cultures by analyzing the coverage on research funding and research politics of selected media as well as by interviewing political, scientific and media actors.
The aim of the project is to analyze the changes of domestic communication cultures that can be linked to the mediatization of the home, and to grasp these changes as a process. The basic presumption is that the Internet and other domestic media technologies have contributed to a lively dynamic of the digital mediatization of the home. This in turn leads to changes within the communication between household members, alters the meanings of the 'old' media, and intensifies the mediatized connections of these households with extern spheres.
Online games have developed into mainstream entertainment: a growing number of gamers communicate and interact in virtual worlds - and spend a good part of their spare time there. However, research has yet to adequately acknowledge this socio-cultural shift toward the mainstream: psychological 'effects' studies and anecdotal case descriptions remain the dominant approaches. The proposed research programme follows a different approach, focusing on the social foundations of online gaming in a holistic way, revolving around the central question of how social order is built and organised in online game environments; i.e., how this affects the so-called 'real life' (the 'out-of-the-game' experience) of the user - and vice versa: how real life affects the experience 'in' the game ('virtual life').
The emergence of metropolitan areas and issues of governance therein are widely researched topics. This project innovates in that it investigates the link between governance and the media in the emergence of metropolitan areas as spaces of democratic politics.
The project analyzes the role of mass media and journalists in the emergence of public for scientific topics. The project focuses on topics and protagonists of journalistic communication about science - particularly with regard to its handling of scientific uncertainty. Thus, object of investigation is on the one hand the science reporting of 17 high-coverage media products through all kind of media. It will be investigated, how fragile and conflicting scientific evidences are presented in mass media coverage. On the other hand science journalists working for the chosen media products will be questioned about their handling of fragile knowledge.
The project analyses the media coverage of nanotechnology of the German, Swiss and Austrian media. Nanotechnology cannot be directly experienced and observed – all that people know about it and their interpretations and opinions are mainly based on information from the mass media. Therefore, this first systematic study of the German, Swiss and Austrian media coverage about nanotechnology aims to analyse the media frames of this emerging technology.
The aim of the project was to analyze the mediated representation of powerful men and women in politics, economy and science and young adults’ adoption of such representations.
The project is part of an international media monitoring of the democratic quality of national media systems. The “Media for Democracy Monitor” is based on a model of democracy asks for basic principles of freedom, equality and control regarding the media and then measures the media’s performance with a set of performance indicators. The German study gathers and analyses secondary data about key parameters of the media system and conducts interviews with journalists of leading German media outlets (Print, Radio, Television, Internet) and with delegates of media trade unions and journalistic associations.
The project focuses on reconstructing how the internet entered the domestic sphere as a new medium and how it was integrated into German households.
In the expertise for the „Landesanstalt für Medien Nordrhein-Westfalen (LfM)" (Media Broadcasting Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia) the relevance of the social network "Twitter" for the public and its relationship to professional journalism is investigated. The relationship is explored from three different perspectives: First, it is analysed empirically with regard to the news value which events have an outstanding relevance on Twitter and how this differs from traditional journalism. Second, the production of news is examined: Which impact do Twitter and other user generated news have on the production of professional news? How widespread is the journalistic enquiry using Twitter? Third, it is asked in a secondary analysis what impact Twitter and user generated news have on the news reception. An survey amongst internet editorial offices, that follows up on the DFG-Project "Journalismus im Internet" (Journalism in the Internet) (2006-2008), marks the empirical core item of the project. In the survey, the impact and use of Twitter and other social media formats is analysed.
The project analyzes three dimensions of general public in the internet: the diversity of structural and publicistic style, the relevance of opinion formation of the internet as well as the integration of media companies and the internet across all types of media. On the one hand findings of communication science were evaluated in the project, on the other hand new empirical data regarding media economics were gathered and investigated.
The project analyzes the various changes of journalism within its societal context and reviews journalistic structures as they are today. Basing on a multilayered concept of journalism journalistic changes is conceptualized as the observable change of its structural elements, which are the evolution of organizations (newsrooms), programs (working routines, formats) and roles (actors, communicators). The change of journalism is analyzed using the example of 15 selected media organization and applying a complex combination of methods. A content analysis examines journalistic coverage between 1990 and 2006; interviews with longtime editors and leading editors provide information about changes of persons, structures and working routines within the newsrooms; observations in the newsrooms show modes of operation and coordination; a standardized survey of the editors in the selected newsrooms examine their characteristics and attitudes.
Starting point for this research project in communication science is the theoretical assumption that political actors in the media society need an increasing amount of consulting in order to cope with increasing external complexity in general and especially observation of themselves by the general public. External PR service providers as communication experts and 2nd order observers seem to be very adequate: because of their external viewpoint and their expertise, consultants are able to provide major help for their clients to increase reflexivity with respect to self-description and description by others. Goal of the empirical analysis (30 structured interviews with PR consultants, ministry employees and members of all large German political parties) therefore was the identification of role interpretations, objectives, values and norms in the interaction of political actors and consultants. They determine the way how consulting influences the political communication.
The project investigated how journalistic services are generated for the contemporary internet public and which structures are hereby emerging. The term "intermediation service" denotes in this context specific services that are, in the traditional mass media, produced by professional editors in editorial offices and that are directed towards a dispersed mass audience. Irrespective of the potentially simplified access to the public, the intermediating instances between communicator and recipient remain necessary also in the internet to conduct tasks of selection and inspection. Besides professional journalistic offerings functional equivalents, namely participative and technical offerings, are present in the network public. However, the findings show that the new types of offerings are more of a complementary nature and therefore pose no real challenge on the traditional journalism in the internet. These offerings were examined regarding their contribution to the creation of contemporary publicity. Another focal point was the question how traditional mass media expand their activities in the internet and which cross-media strategies were pursued.
This content analysis examines German media coverage of nanotechnology between January2000 and December 2007 in a total of 1,696 articles published in the national qualitynewspapers Financial Times Deutschland, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FrankfurterRundschau, Süddeutsche Zeitung, taz, Die Welt, the news magazines Focus and DerSpiegel, and the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. The results show that on average 212 articleswere published every year. After the peak of 248 articles in 2004, there was a decline in coverageto 170 articles in 2007. The main topics covered are "fundamental research" and the"application information and communication technologies". The central actors are "persons/institutions in the field of science" and "economic actors". Overall, the media coverageof nanotechnology very much focussed on the potential benefits of the technology. Risks areonly discussed to a minor degree. In a framing analysis five issue-specific frames were identified:"Research and Development", "Progress in information and communication technologies","Economic use", "Medical benefit" and the "Risk-opportunity debate".