Medierne som demokratisk institution? En analyse af den journalistiske praksis

Ditte Lysgaard Vind

Student thesis: Master thesis


This Master’s thesis investigates the possibilities and limitations for the functioning of democracy created by the media, in relation to the media’s way of operating and the program strands they use to navigate. The thesis combines the two theorists Niklas Luhmann and Pierre Bourdieu, whose individual blind spots are made available for observation by combining the two theorists with the established strategy for the analysis. The thesis seeks to explore the democratic possibilities and limitations created by the media by looking into the empirical case of the media’s handling of the political aspiration to create a toll ring for cars around the city of Copenhagen. Furthermore, the thesis expands the empirical observation through the inclusion of a news ethnographic analysis. By using Luhmann’s form and semantic analysis of the empirical case, it becomes clear that the journalistic practice is to use different program strands for observing information, thus establishing different semantic possibilities for further communication. It is also observable that the program strands improve the observation of the system and enables them to observe communication as information. By combining these findings with the news ethnographic analysis as well as Luhmann’s theory of complexity, the thesis is able to establish that the journalistic practice does not only make use of the program strands for the system defining distinction, but also internally within the system. This makes the journalistic practice observable as a practice of complexity reduction, thus creating a double reduction of complexity through the use of a re-entry of the system defining distinction to select which information to communicate, thereby making it available for further communication. In the context of democracy, it is observable how the journalistic practice on the one hand creates possibilities for democratic involvement by making the communicated information available and understandable for a wider range of recipients. However, at the same time, the analysis shows that with each choice follows an opt-out. In particular, the opt-out internally, gives cause for further reflection, particularly concerning the program strand of exclusivity.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages93