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Opposing the Government but Governing the Audience? Exploring the Differential Mediatization of Parliamentary Actors in Switzerland

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Published in Journalism Studies. 2014, vol. 15, no. 3, p. 304-320
Abstract This article operationalizes the mediatization of politics by comparing the expressed preferences toward the mass media between different groups of members of parliament (MPs) in three conflicted legislative decision-making processes in Switzerland. Different from elections, MPs face a more pronounced tension between audience-oriented and policy-oriented activities in legislative decision-making processes. It is argued that MPs are “mediatized” when they express a preference for audience-oriented activities. Audience-oriented activities are aimed at resulting in coverage by the mass media outlets with the broadest reach and include (1) the preference for symbolic issues, (2) a negotiation strategy that is focused on tough bargaining, (3) image-oriented media activities, (4) symbolic interventions in parliament, and (5) a high use of staged media activities. It is hypothesized that MPs of the pole parties engage more in audience-oriented activities than MPs of the center-right parties, as this is an integral part of their quasi-opposition strategy. The quantitative results of face-to-face interviews with 50 high-ranking MPs of the parliamentary committees confirm the hypothesis. The operationalization of audience orientation in five dimensions diversifies the understanding of the concept of mediatization in the political realm. The article concludes that a potential populist challenge to democracy consists in the mutually beneficial symbiosis between audience-oriented political actors and commercially oriented media companies.
Keywords Audience orientationDecision-makingMediatizationParliamentPolicy orientationPolitical partiesPopulism
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Research group NCCR Democracy
Project FNS: PDFMP1-127373
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LANDERER, Nino. Opposing the Government but Governing the Audience? Exploring the Differential Mediatization of Parliamentary Actors in Switzerland. In: Journalism Studies, 2014, vol. 15, n° 3, p. 304-320. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:40923

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Deposited on : 2014-10-16

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