Comparing Media Systems and Voter Turnout

Is there a significant difference between the type of media system proposed by Hallin and Mancini and the degree of voting participation?

Hausarbeit, 2014

26 Seiten, Note: 1,0

Peter Ru (Autor:in)



1.1. Democracy and Turnout
1.2. Research Question

2. LITERATURE REVIEW - Hallin and Mancini: “Comparing Media Systems: Three models of media and politics”
2.1. The four dimensions of media systems
2.2. The five political dimensions
2.3. The three Models
2.4. Reception


4.1. Regression Analysis
4.2. Operationalisation

5.1. Influence of Media Markets on Turnout
5.2. Influence of Political Parallelism on Voter Turnout
5.3. Influence of Professionalization and Voter Turnout
5.4. Limitations



1.1. Democracy and Turnout

What defines a democracy? This question should be considered as one of the most polarizing questions when it comes to Comparative Politics. There are plenty of different conditions considered as necessary in order to call a country democratic. One of the conditions that seems to be more important than others, is the existence of competitive elections. Joseph Schumpeter, an influential economist and political scientist, states “the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions which realizes the common good by making the people itself decide issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble in order to carry out its will (Schumpeter 1950, 428). A more recent definition of democracy states that “the essential idea of democracy is that the people have the right to determine who governs them. In most cases they elect the principal governing officials and hold them accountable for their actions. Democracies also impose legal limits on the government’s authority by guaranteeing certain rights and freedoms to their citizen” (Sodaro 2004, 31). There are countless other definitions of democracy and there is no an “ongoing lively debate on the subject” (Kekic 2007, 1). Most of them include the elements of competition or elections meaning the existence of competitive elections and declare them as a necessary condition for democracy. Therefore the absence of free and fair elections should only occur in undemocratic systems.

Knowing that competitive elections have a major significance in a democratic system. But nowadays we observe an alarming trend in many modern democracies. The voter turnout is decreasing in most countries. (Zelenko 2012). Many scholars agree that this trend is not desirable (Rosema 2007; Lijphart 1997) and may be a huge threat to democratic systems. The effects of low turnout and its causes are extensively discussed. (Lutz/Marsh 2007; Blais 2007).

If turnout is low, then there is no longer a full representation of all groups of society and rather a bias towards certain social groups. This may lead to political apathy which in return may lead to less people participating in general and local elections (Volmer 2013). Thus the legitimacy of political leaders is in danger, as they are no longer in office based on the major will of the citizens.

In sum, the decrease of voting turnout is threatening the whole democratic idea. Hence it is crucial to find out the most important factors that lead to the decrease of voter turnout. Further investigation in that area of political science may be important due to normative aspects. Once the factors that lead to a decrease in voting participation are identified, the authorities and politicians can proceed against this trend and ensure that at least a representative sample of the population is participating in the vote ensuring the basic principle of a democracy: The representation of people’s will and interests.

Scholars agree that there is not just one but many factors that influence the number of people participating in elections. One of the first studies on that topic is done by G. Bingham Powell’s work named “Contemporary Democracies. Participation, Stability, and Violence”.In this book, Powell seeks to identify the factors that lead to less participation in elections. He comes up with the indicators “nationally competitive districts” and “strong party-group linkages” (Powell 1982). Later Robert W. Jackman also looked for the variables that are responsible for voter turnout. (Jackman 1987). He was more concerned with institutional factors and came up with three institutions that seem to support voter turnout. These institutions are “unicameralism”, the existence of “compulsory voting” but also the “nationally competitive districts” (Jackman 1987, 416). Unicameralism because if there only exists one chamber, this chamber is more powerful, which gives the voters more incentive to vote. The existence of compulsory voting simply because it “provide[s] a disincentive to nonvoting that should increase turnout” (Jackman 1987, 409). Finally national competitive districts have an impact on turnout, as those districts “provide incentives for parties and candidates to mobilize voters, which increases turnout. (Jackman 1987, 407).

1.2. Research Question

Obviously there are various factors influencing the likelihood of people participation in an election. In order to achieve a complete identification of influences on voter turnout, another factor of turnout shall be discovered. This paper concentrates on the effects of media systems on voter turnout. It is based on the work of Hallin and Mancini “Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and politics” published in 2004 (Hallin/Mancini 2004). Thus the research question this paper seeks to answer is “Is there a significant difference between the type of media system proposed by Hallin and Mancini and the degree of voting participation?” All three models differ in their size of media markets, their degree of political parallelism as well as the different kinds of professionalization of the journalists and the role of the state in the media systems. Subsequently there is a possibility of this affects the number of people attending elections. It is expected to find significant differences between the models in their degree of voting participation.

1.3. Structure

In the following chapters this paper introduces the categorization of Hallin and Mancini and discusses its findings and also presents the reception of their work. Next the theory and the hypothesis are introduced. Then the methodology is displayed. Bivariate regression analysis will be used in order to analyse the differences regarding the media systems and the voter turnout. After that the findings of the analysis is shown and finally the conclusion drawn from the findings are discussed.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW - Hallin and Mancini: “Comparing Media Systems: Three models of media and politics”

The theory is discussed in this paper is based on the three models of media systems in Europe, which were identified by Hallin and Mancini in their book “Comparing Media Systems” in 2004. Hallin and Mancini try to conceptualize the media landscape in Europe with their comparative media research. They compare 18 countries in Western Europe and North America and extract three different models. The countries analysed in the comparison involve Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

2.1. The four dimensions of media systems

In order to find the different models, Hallin and Mancini propose four dimensions. These dimensions are indicators to which the media systems in Western Europe and North America can be compared.

The first dimension is the “development of media markets, with particular emphasis on the strong or weak development of a mass circulation press” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 21). The different aspects regarding the media market structure are “rates of newspaper circulation”, “relation [of newspapers] to its audience”, “gender differences in newspaper readership”, “separation between a sensationalist mass press and ‘quality’ papers” just like the “balance of local, regional, and national newspapers” and the “language factors” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 22-26).

The second dimension addresses the “degree to which the structure of the media system paralleled that of the party system.” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 27) The authors refer to this as “political parallelism”. A high degree of political parallelism is accompanied with general political tendencies that we can find in the media whereas nowadays it refers less to the connection between media and particular political parties. Its components are “media content – the extent to which the […] media reflects distinct political orientations in their news”, “organizational connections between media and political parties or […] organizations”, “the tendency of media personnel to be active in political life”, “partisanship of media audiences”, “journalistic role orientations and practices” and also the distinction between “internal pluralism” and “external pluralism”. (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 26-33).

The third dimension applies to the professionalization of journalists. Hallin and Mancini mention the following dimensions which are closely related to professionalization: “autonomy”, “distinct professional norms” and the “public service orientation” of the journalists”. (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 33-41).

The fourth and last dimension covers the role of the state and the forms of state intervention regarding the media. These forms include “public service broadcasting”, the state as owner of “news agencies, newspapers, or other media-related enterprises” and “press subsidies” . (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 41-44).

As this paper mainly focuses on the effects of media systems on turnout, there is more emphasis on the media dimensions than the political dimensions identified by the authors.

2.2. The five political dimensions

In a next step Hallin and Mancini set up five dimensions regarding the political contexts. These dimensions should have “patterns of association with important characteristics of the media system” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 65). They are “principal characteristics of political systems that can influence the structure of media institutions” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 46).

The first dimension concerns the role of state. It describes the “differing roles the state can play as owner, regulator and funder of the media” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 49) and it distincts between the continental European welfare state democracies and the liberal democracies which clearly differ in their degree of intervention concerning the media systems.

The second dimension is the differentiation between consensus and majoritarian democracies. Majoritarianism “tends to be associated with the notion of the journalist as a neutral servant of the public as a whole, rather than as a spokesperson of a particular political tendency or social group” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 51), whereas consensus systems are “typically multiparty systems and external pluralism […] is more likely in the media system of multiparty policies, along with other characteristics of political parallelism” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 51).

The third dimension consists in the two different kinds of pluralism - individual and organized, and respectively in liberalism and corporatism. “Systems in which political representation is conceived and organized in terms of the relation between governing institutions and individuals citizens, along with a multiplicity of competing ‘special interests’ – which we call individualized pluralism and those in which organized groups are more central to the political process – which we call organized pluralism” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 53). Further the authors describe corporatism as “the formal integration of social groups into the political process” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 53) and liberalism as a contrast to democratic corporatism, hence a system in which social groups are not integrated equally in the political process.

The fourth dimension concerns rational-legal authority clientelism. It distinguishes between strongly and less strongly developed, whereas “where rational-legal authority is strongly developed, these institutions [public broadcasting systems and the agencies] […] are likely to be relatively autonomous from control by government, parties and particular politician, and to be governed by clear rules and procedures” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 56). On the other hand a less strong development of rational-legal authority is accompanied with stronger “party control and penetration of public broadcasting and regulatory institutions” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 56).

And finally the fifth dimension describes moderate and polarized pluralism. The authors argue that “polarized pluralism tends to be associated with a higher degree of political parallelism” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 61) and moderate pluralism “is more conductive to the development of commercialized and/or professionalized media with less political parallelism.” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 61).

2.3. The three Models

Hallin and Mancini identify three different media systems. The “Polarized Pluralist Model”, the “Democratic Corporatist Model” and the “Liberal Atlantic Model” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 69). Their findings and the different characteristics of the different models on the respective dimensions of media characteristics can be seen in table 1, and the characteristics of the models on the political system indicators can be seen in table 2.

The three models that Hallin and Mancini propose are “intended to identify particular patterns of media system development in Western Europe and North America, and we do not think they should be ‘applied’ in any direct way to any but perhaps a very few cases outside the scope of our analysis” (Hallin/Mancini 2012, 208).

It should be necessary to mention that Hallin and Mancini claim that this classifications are “ideal types” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 69) and should not be considered as the absolute correct models, but as wider concepts. The particular countries are likely to belong to the respective models, because of more or less shared characteristics. The models are “far from capturing the full complexity […] of the media systems of [the] particular countries” (Hallin/Mancini 2004, 69). Thus the distinction between the categories should be considered to be on a continuous scale rather than a categorical distinction.


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Comparing Media Systems and Voter Turnout
Is there a significant difference between the type of media system proposed by Hallin and Mancini and the degree of voting participation?
Universität Mannheim  (Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften)
Seminar: Comparing Media Systems and Media Policies across Europe
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
990 KB
voter turnout, wahlbeteiligung, medien, media system, Hallin, mancini, voting, election, Bivariate regression analysis, regressionsanalyse
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Peter Ru (Autor:in), 2014, Comparing Media Systems and Voter Turnout, München, GRIN Verlag,


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