The Media and the Public Sphere : A Deliberative Model of Democracy book cover
1st Edition

The Media and the Public Sphere
A Deliberative Model of Democracy

ISBN 9781138306011
Published December 6, 2017 by Routledge
210 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

At the heart of modern democracy lies the public sphere, which is most centrally shaped by those actors that integrate it discursively: the mass media. The media draw together the different strands of political debates; they grant access to some actors and arguments while excluding others and thus decisively mould the political process.

In this book, Thomas Häussler examines how the media reflect and react to the wider context in which they are embedded. More specifically, he focuses on whether their discourse demonstrates systematic differences with regard to the two main public sphere types that they co-constitute, according to deliberative theory, focussing in particular on the work of Jürgen Habermas.

The Media and the Public Sphere promotes a deeper and more detailed understanding of the political process by foregrounding the complex relationships between the media and the public discourse they constitute. It examines how the media co-create relationships of power, analyses the structure of these discursive networks and illuminates the effects that different deliberative coalition types have on political debates.

Table of Contents

Series Editors Foreword 

1. Introduction

2. Democracy, Discourse and the Public Sphere: The Deliberative Approach 

3. Methods and Measures of Deliberation 

4. The Media and the Deliberative Quality of Public Spheres 

5. Democratic Conflict and Deliberative Coalitions 

6. Conclusion  Appendix: Codebook

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Thomas Häussler is a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Communication and Media Studies, University of Bern. His research interests include political communication; online mobilisation and campaigning of civil society actors; social (online) network analysis; (Swiss) media history; and social and political philosophy – in particular, theoretical models of and empirical research on deliberative democracy. He teaches courses at bachelor’s and master’s levels on different aspects of political communication.


'In the deliberative model of democracy, a free press is of crucial importance for linking the public sphere and political decision making. Häussler shows in a sophisticated way the potential and the pitfalls for the media to fulfil this role. The philosophical background of the deliberative model is linked in a successful way with complex empirical analyses. The book is highly relevant for journalism, communication, and political science.'- Jürg Steiner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


'This very substantial and well researched book is an exceptionally valuable contribution to the growing body of empirical literature on deliberative democracy. It should find a wide readership in politics and media studies.'  - William Outhwaite, FAcSS, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University


'This important rethinking of the mediated public sphere shows that the range of actors and the qualities of their deliberation differ depending on whether we look at the sphere of civil society or the sphere of government-centered media discourses. Each sphere displays its own strengths and weaknesses, suggesting both the imperfections and the promises of democratic communication processes.' - Lance Bennett, Professor of Political Science and Communication, University of Washington