Media and political communication

This research group focuses on the analysis of intermediation of protest and political mobilisation through old and new media, the innovative use of new digital media technologies by civil society actors, the salience of new mediatised conflicts as well as opportunities for participation and consultation created by the internet. communication patterns, processes and practices in political participation and mobilization, hence investigating how a diverse range of political actors – institutional and grassroots; collective and individual – employ different types of media technologies to foster, sustain and diffuse political participation. The research aims at advancing the study of the nexus between political participation and communication dynamics both theoretically and methodologically, looking at several European and non-European countries, often in a comparative fashion and at the transnational level. We especially focus on the role that digital technologies have in the broad realm of politics, considering phenomena like disinformation, disintermediation and reintermediation of political communication, the mediatization of societies, the production of knowledge on and through the media, the construction of cross-dimensional networks of action and resistance. However, scholars involved in this research group also adopt an encompassing view on the media systems, media environments and media ecologies in which political participation emerges and unfolds, thus taking into consideration the hybridization of media practices and the combination of different media logics that guide both institutional and grassroots political communication today. We study such phenomena through the triangulation of both quantitative and qualitative methods, also including the use of digital methods and social network analysis.

Main Projects

  • Enlightened trust: An examination of trust and distrust in governance – conditions, effects and remedies (EnTrust). Funded by a Horizon 2020 Research Grant, in cooperation with University of Copenhagen, Entrust is a multidisciplinary and international research project dedicated to provide novel insights into trust and distrust in governance and measures to support sustainable and democratic societies in Europe. Director: Hans-Jörg Trenz.
  • Value Conflicts in a Differentiated Europe: The Impact of Digital Media on Value Polarisation in Europe (ValCon). Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, the project examines the role of digital social and news media in creating political value polarization among citizens and in promoting the rise of populism in Europe. Director: Hans-Jörg Trenz, Researchers: Siresa Lopez Berengueres, Robin Piazzo, Guendalina Simoncini, Giuliana Sorci.
  • Lockdown of the Public Sphere? Value Contestation and Digital Mobilization during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Locksphere). Focusing on the emergent social and political conflicts surrounding COVID-19 and the role of social media in creating, disseminating and shaping conflict, this project (funded by the Volkswagen Foundation) analyses the dynamics of value contestation and political mobilization in European social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Director: Hans-Jörg Trenz, Researcher: Ofra Klein.
  • Post-Truth Politics Erasmus+ co-funded Jean Monnet Network Post-truth politics, nationalism and the (de-)legitimation of European integration is a research network established in cooperation with University of Iceland, aiming to address the possible impact of ‘fake news’, disinformation and ‘post-truth politics’ on the legitimation and delegitimation of European integration. Director: Hans-Jörg Trenz, Researcher: Jacopo Custodi
  • Reclaiming Liberal Democracy in Europe in the Postfactual Age (RECLAIM). Funded by a Horizon 2020 Research Grant, coordinated by the University of Iceland, the project studies the implications of post-truth politics on democracy in Europe. We analyse contemporary challenges to journalism in the era of post-truth politics that might undermine trust but also create new demands for truth and thus opportunities for quality professional journalism. Director: Hans-Jörg Trenz, Collaborator: Manuela Caiani, Researcher: Jacopo Custodi.
  • Future Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR). fFnanced by the EU ‘Next Generation Europe’, the project analyses the societal, political and economic impact of artificial intelligence and digital technologies on democracy (political and industrial relations) through a series of integrated case studies on employment and labour conflicts, the transformation of journalism and new regulatory frameworks of political communication. Director: Fosca Gianotti, Coordinator at Cosmos: Hans-Joerg Trenz., Collaborators: Donatella della Porta, Guglielmo Meardi, Mario Pianta.
  • Post-Truth Politics and the Public Sphere in Europe (POPSPHERE). Financed by the Italian Governmental Programme (PRIN), the project analyses through a series of case studies whether post-truth politics in their diverse manifestations necessarily undermine democracy or whether democracy is also reclaimed in the ways the post-truth challenge is dealt with by transnational governance, the ways journalism and science communications are renewed and the ways new forms of civic engagement are established. Director: Hans-Jörg Trenz.
  • Social Sustainability and Gender Inequalities: culture, politics and economy Financed by the Pro3 program of the Italian Ministery for University and Research, the project addresses gender inequalities (their perception and definition by the participants) in three different but interrelated fields (cultural, political and economic).  Director: Manuela Caiani; Researchers at SNS: Francesca Feo, Francesca Pignataro.
  • Neo-authoritarianisms in Europe and the liberal democratic response (AUTHLIB) Funded by a Horizon 2020 Research Grant, in cooperation with the Central European University (CEU) Hungary, Authlib is a multidisciplinary and international research project that aims to explore the varieties of neo-authoritarian, illiberal ideologies in Europe, their social, psychological and historical causes, their organizational background and their political implications. Director: Manuela Caiani; Researchers: Karlo Kralj; Pál Susánszky, Nikolaos Saridakis.
  • Political Uses of Denialisms and Conspiracy Theories in EU (Goldstein). This Jean Monnet network, financed by the European Commission, addresses the political uses of new denialisms and conspiracy theories that have played a crucial role in Europe Union in recent years. SNS Director: Manuela Caiani.
  • Climate, Inequality, and Democratic Action: The Force of Political Emotions (CIDAPE).  Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Program this  project addresses  the complex interplay between citizen engagement, climate change, and social and economic inequalities. At its core lies the recognition that emotions play a fundamental role in political participation and communication. Director: Manuela Caiani.