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Frame-Building Processes in the 2009 European Election Campaign in Austria

Iris Hoeller
University of Innsbruck
Iris Hoeller
University of Innsbruck
Open Panel

Abstract

Elections and election campaigns are of vital importance in a democracy. Therefore, the media as well as the political parties apply high attention to them. As election campaigns are periods of concentrated political communication they are also a matter of particular interest in the fields of political science and communication research. However, whereas the influence of mass media on perception and evaluation of politics and election campaigns is a widely discussed object of study (e.g: de Vreese 2005, Jamieson and Capella 1997, Norris 2000, 2005, Iyengar 1991), the formation of media frames is a far less examined field of research. In this context the overrating of the media logic and isolated examinations of media communication processes have been criticized (e.g. Sarcinelli 2009). This study comparatively analyses both media and party communication. In doing so, the paper centres upon generic frames (de Vreese 2005) (e.g. game, negativity, conflict etc.) in media coverage as well as in the press releases of political parties. The focus thereby lies on the analysis of frame-building processes, thus on the formation of frames (cf. about frame-building: Hänggli and Kriesi 2010, Maurer 2009, d''Angelo and Kuypers 2009, Fröhlich and Rüdiger 2006). Accordingly, the crucial questions are: Which actors dominate the frame-building processes in the European Election Campaign in Austria – the media or the political parties? To what extent do the media apply autonomous communication patterns and interpretations? To what extent are the communication patterns of the political parties reflected in media coverage? To answer these questions two content analyses with identical coding schemas are applied: The first one analyses the media coverage of press and TV-news in Austria while the second one analyses press releases of the parties represented in the Austrian parliament in the final four weeks of the election campaign. Descriptive and regression analyses are applied to investigate the nexus and inter-relation of frames offered by political parties (input) and the media (as the output level).