Public Sphere & Society

Team Public Sphere & Society

Prof. Dr. Mark Eisenegger and his colleagues form the division “Public Sphere and Society” at the IKMZ. Our research focuses on three topics: 1. Change of organizational communication, 2. Social change of modern societies reflected by public communication and 3. Digital structural change of the public sphere and in particular the changing quality of news media. We address these topics from a sociological perspective that incorporates theories of the public sphere and combines them with empirical analyses and with an understanding of science as “enlightenment”. Our division closely cooperates with the fög - Research Institute for the Public Sphere and Society, an associated institute of the University of Zurich, with Mark Eisenegger as president. More about the fög on the website.

1. Change of organizational communication

We are interested in transformations of organizational communication, understood as communication in, from and about organizations. We assume that a change of descriptions about organizations in the public sphere goes hand in hand with changing self-descriptions of organizations. We are particularly interested in linking the transformation of organizational communication with the digital structural change of the public sphere and the changing social values. One main research area involves reputation analysis.

2. Social change and public communication

Members of a society can develop an awareness of their society only in the context of the public sphere. Following this point of view, we are able to describe and explain self-descriptions of society by looking at the change of public communication. Therefore, one research focus deals with issue trends as well as media attention to actors, who gain or lose influence in the public sphere.

Digital structural change: Finally, we explore the digital structural change of the public sphere and its impact on media, economic and political organizations and society as a whole. One focus in this research area is the changing quality of public communication, particularly the quality of the news media and especially in Switzerland’s media system. We are interested in research questions how changing resources in journalism and changing “logics” of the media affect the quality of news. Also, we investigate the effect of “platformization” (Helmond) – i.e. the growing impact of global tech-intermediaries like Google, Facebook, etc. – on the quality of public communication.