Uses of democratic theory in media and communication studies

Kari Karppinen


It is commonly accepted that different theories of democracy imply different normative frameworks for evaluating media performance. However, it has also been argued that media and communication researchers’ engagement with broader political theories remains underdeveloped and dependent on a narrow range of sources. The aim of this article is to map out in a basic quantitative fashion how different models of democracy are employed in media and communication studies. Some broad theoretical trends and omissions in the current academic debate on media and democracy are identified by analyzing central theorists, trends and patterns in the theoretical resources employed in academic journal articles within the field. This is done by analysing the keywords and names that appear in the Communication & Mass Media Complete (CMMC) database from 1990 to 2011.


democracy; democratic theories; normative theories; media and communication studies; bibliometrics

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