Mediatized legitimacy of local governance processes.

IA (Iris) Korthagen, Ingmar van Meerkerk

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Although theoretical and empirical work on democratic legitimacy of governance networks is growing, the role of external actors or factors in this respect is neglected so far. Media play an important part in the development and degree of the legitimacy of decision-making within governance networks, especially when we focus on the communication of citizens and authorities. As media are said to function according to their own logic, called the media logic, we assume that this also influences the development of legitimacy. We empirically examine the relationship between the media logic and three sources of democratic legitimacy in governance networks: voice, due deliberation, and accountability. To examine this relationship we conducted a comparative case study of three local water management projects with a mixed method design. We combined extensive qualitative case studies of these projects, interviews and a quantitative content analysis on media reports about these same projects. The results with regard to the effects of media logic on the democratic legitimacy relationships are twofold. The media logic increases possibilities for citizen groups to receive attention for their concerns. Furthermore, in all three cases the deliberation process is broadened with issues of the citizen groups, partly because of the media attention. On the other hand, the focus of media on conflicts, drama, and news selling stories, diffuses the deliberation process, because images can be overwhelming or obscuring ‘facts’. This forces political authorities in a reactive communication style: they have to fight against negative images in the media. Proactive communication about the projects, such as branding, is difficult in such media landscape.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2012
EventIPA Conference 2012 - Tilburg
Duration: 5 Jul 20127 Jul 2012


ConferenceIPA Conference 2012

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