This course focuses on the uses and effects of political communication on individual citizens and the formation of public opinion. Developments in citizens’ use of political information will be analyzed and effects will be discussed with both national and international examples. The overarching goal of the seminar is to familiarize students with the key concepts and theories in current (political) communication effects and public opinion research and to contribute to a better understanding of the role and power of political communication in the relationship between citizens and politics.
The focus of the course will be, first, at the individual level: what is the public, and how can we assess its “opinion”? What new forms of political participation are promoted by the digitalization of democracy? In the second stage, we will focus on the content of political communication, in terms of narrative persuasion, negativity, and the use of emotional appeals in modern electoral campaigns. How do candidates “communicate” during their campaigns? Why are they going “negative” against their opponents, and with what effects? And what is the place of emotions in contemporary political communication, and does this affect how citizens make up their minds about politics?