As a communication science scholar I am – broadly speaking – interested in the contents, uses, and consequences of media and communication. Communication science aims at providing a broad understanding of communication processes on the individual, organisational, and societal level and integrates diverse aspects of social sciences. Here I present my main research topics and interests; those being: European integration, political offline and online communication, media reception and the effects on public opinion and empirical methods.
Interpersonal Communication & Deliberation
In the project “The Conversations of Democracy. Citizens’ Everyday Communication in the Deliberative System”, I seek to contribute to a deeper understanding of people’s conversations about public affairs as the most basic form of political communication and foundation of democracy’s deliberative system by investigating their deliberativeness as well as their conditions and consequences. This project aims at answering three interrelated research questions: (RQ1) How deliberative is citizens’ everyday talk about politics? (RQ2) What conditions contribute to the deliberativeness of citizens’ everyday talk about politics? (RQ3) Does the deliberativeness of citizens’ everyday talk about politics lead to the beneficial consequences for democratic politics assumed by deliberative theory?
Political Offline and Online Communication
One of my main research pillar focuses on interpersonal communication, political offline and online communication, and election campaigns on a national as well as international level. I am especially interested in the reciprocal effects between traditional media – being print media and TV – and online media such as websites of media outlets and Twitter and Facebook and citizens’ political talk. By conducting panel surveys and experiments I aim at investigating the deliberative quality of citizens’ talk about politics in their everyday lives. Additionally, based on computer-assisted content analyses I aim at identifying the political contents which journalists and political actors convey to the public. I am also interested in examining the extent to which mass-mediated political content reflects in citizens’ political talk.
In times that European integration is challenged by increasing Euroskepticism, countries openly speculating about withdrawing from the Union, and disagreements among member countries on how to solve political problems in Europe, it is of vital importance to understand the role of Europeanized public spheres as the safeguard for the EU’s democratic legitimacy and existence in the future. Consequently, my research focuses on Europeanized public spheres established by the mass media. I specifically aim at examining the nature and characteristics of these spheres and the extent to which these spheres among other factors contribute to citizens’ engagement in EU politics. I also aim at providing an understanding on the visions for the EU that exist among politics, media and citizenry, and ultimately offer cues as to the future of the European integration project, which ultimately builds upon reaching consensual visions about what the EU is and should be.
Media Reception & Effects on Public Opinion
Another scientific pillar refers to media reception and its effects on public opinion. Within a series of media effect studies I analyze different media contents and their various dramaturgical presentations. For instance, I am interested in how humor changes individuals’ attention towards political communication, in the effects of entertainment-education in general and particularly whether medical dramas as well as diet and nutrition shows improve health communication, and how reality TV formats are related to reflexive learning effects. For analyzing the aforementioned media effects I apply experimental designs with varying treatment variables.
Within my research I apply different empirical methods. I am especially interested in computational methods, survey methodologies and experimental designs. I am focusing on latest developments in computer-assisted content analysis. I am in particular interested in latest developments in R and Python. I am also highly interested in utilizing open source tools, such as Gephi, for empirical analyses. Also, I apply structural equation modeling (SEM) as a statistical technique for testing and estimating causal relations among latent as well as manifest variables.