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Comparative Political Communication


Course Description

This course examines the interaction between mass media and politics in comparative perspective, exploring normative, empirical, and theoretical questions about the character and role of mass media within varying political environments.

We will begin by focusing on theories of media systems in Europe and the United States, asking questions such as: Are these theories adequate to explain the behavior of journalists and media outlets in the various systems described? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each system? Is convergence toward a single model of mass media currently underway in the West? Is such convergence desirable?

In the second part of the seminar we will turn to an exploration of the mass media in other regions—in both democratic and non-democratic environments—with an eye to developing empirical understanding of the role of the media outside of the West. Among the questions we will ask are: What are the constraints faced by journalists and media outlets in various non-democratic environments? What are the effects of the media—on politics, citizen attitudes and behavior, etc.—in these environments? Should the media play markedly different roles in democracies vs. non-democracies?

Though the course will focus on traditional forms of mass media (newspapers, television, radio), will we also read texts on internet-based and social media and will work to integrate the role and impact of developing technologies into our discussions.

Methods of Instruction

Class sessions will be primarily discussion-based, with some short lectures. Each student will be required to open one class session with a brief (10-minute) presentation that synthesizes the reading and offers opening questions for discussion.

Study Material

Hallin, Daniel C. and Paolo Mancini. 2004. Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Other journal articles and book chapters will be posted on Blackboard or on reserve at the library.


Grades will be based on XX components: – Active participation in class discussion: 20% – Short presentation: 15% – Five short reading reflection papers: 25% (5% each) – Research design: 40%


Wednesday 2 November till 21 December, 11.00-13.00 hrs. in 6C03 (except 2 and 9 Nov.SA05; and 16 Nov. 5A41) Wednesday 14 and 21 December in room 5A37 and
Friday 4 Novemer till 23 December, 11.00-13.00hrs. in SA29 (except 4 November 5B02)