Understanding Political Participation in Media Discourse: A Social Representations Approach
Various forms of political participation are found in democratic societies, and these are diversifying at a steady pace. Scholarly literature presents us with an array of typologies of participation, some of which were conceived theoretically, and others derived from empirical research. This paper studies how political participation surfaces in media discourse in Italy and Greece. Specifically, it seeks to understand the social representations of political participation in both countries between 2000 and 2015, and to see which typologies of political participation are reflected in such representations. A media analysis was carried out on a sizeable corpus of newspaper articles in both countries. Data were analysed using a combination of correspondence and cluster analysis. The results indicate higher internal differentiation and gradualness characterising the social representations of political participation in the Italian corpus. In Greece, there was the presence of more radical ideological alternatives to electoral participation. Moreover, results indicate temporal stability in the themes pertaining to political participation over the years. The main contribution of this paper lies in showing that content pertaining to various typologies of political participation (e.g., relating to influence, in/formality and protest) features in the social representations of political participation in newspaper media. Findings are discussed in view of the temporal distribution of representational content, and by comparing countryspecific typologies (for Italy and Greece) with those present in the literature.