Political CommunicationUNIVERSITÀ DELLA SVIZZERA ITALIANA
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- Mendrisio (Svizzera)
In recent decades, the Swiss political landscape has witnessed a notable increase in the intensity, virulence and corresponding budgets for political communication. This trend, already present in other countries, has been criticized for both its influence on the policy debate but also for being somehow anathema to the Swiss institutional construct. This makes political communication an important topic for students of public administrations, but also an important tool for communicators to master.
This course provides an advanced introduction to theory and research in the field of political communication. By illuminating recent developments that took place in Switzerland from a comparative angle, its goal is to familiar students with the field’s history, research questions, theoretical approaches, and empirical analyses. This course takes the perspective of the political actors whose public-oriented communication activities are embedded in the specificities of the Swiss context (i.e. segmented public spheres, consensus democracy, federalism, and direct democracy).
This course addresses the most salient topics of current political communication research related to Switzerland. After an introduction (part 1) that gives an overview of the contents and discusses the various definitions of political communication, the second part is devoted to the characteristics of the Swiss context. Of particular importance are the characteristics of both the political and the media systems. Part 3 examines prominent communication styles by focusing on the much discussed phenomena of professionalization, modernization, Americanization, political marketing approaches as well as populism. Subsequently, the course proposes to consider the domain of campaign communication (part 4). To that end, we will study two types of institutionalized contests – the elections and direct-democratic votes. Part 5 deals with the role of specific actors in the process of political communication. To that end, we will look at the public-oriented strategies adopted by state actors, political parties, and interest groups (including social movement organizations). Finally, the two last sessions revolve around the use of communication tools. Part 6 provides an overview of established communication repertoires, whereas Part 7 concentrates on the use of the Internet as well as of social media, two topics that have recently received much scholarly attention.