Who Criticizes the Government in the Media? The Symbolic Power Model

Gergana Dimova


While the current literature pays ample attention to the process where the media mediate information to the public, it is unclear who they mediate it from. I review five major theories about the role of the media in criticizing the government- the indexing theory, the Fourth Estate ideal, the social responsibility theory, the propaganda model and political parallelism. The paper advances a symbolic power model, which emphasizes the importance of the media as an arena for gaining political capital and public support. It argues that the political opposition is the main driving engine behind media criticisms of the government. It tests this finding on an original database of 6,000 articles in major newspapers in Bulgaria, Russia and Germany in the period between 1995 and 2005.


democracy, media systems, political parties

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS612012550