Mediatization of bureaucracy

Call for papers for the fourth workshop on the Comparative Analysis of Bureaucracy in Society (CABS) at University of Oslo, December 3. – 4. 2015


Mediatization of bureaucracy

Call for papers for the fourth workshop on the Comparative Analysis of Bureaucracy in Society (CABS) at University of  Oslo,  December 3. – 4.   2015

Mediatization coins a process whereby various societal institutions adapt to the logic of the media (Hjarvard 2008). Media's transition from printed dailies to 24/7 multi-outlets, and from being reactive and respectful to being proactive and critical vis-à-vis elected politicians has – so the theory goes – also transformed political organizations such as ministries and political parties. In this call for papers we ask for examinations of what has changed and what has not changed in the relationship between bureaucracy and the media, and in particular consequences of mediatization for political communication, decision-making and organization of bureaucracy.

The workshop will amongst others present a keynote speak by Christina Garsten on "The rise of the policy professionals in Sweden". More about the program will follow.

Decision-making: As a result of mediatization, political decisions need to be reached more quickly than before (Thorbjørnsrud, Figenschou & Ihlen 2014). Media outlets and journalists are impatient and if political organizations respond slowly they may criticize the ministries for not being sufficiently transparent, responsive or efficient. This development may change the politics-bureaucracy balance, and in turn the relationship between the state and the citizens by undermining the trust in politics. For example, tasking bureaucrats with producing material for quick answers directs their attention away from thorough development of new policies and scrutiny of already implemented policies. Also, politicians' attention may be directed away from guiding and following up on bureaucracy's contributions to policymaking.

Political communication: Mediatization is claimed to put pressure on ministries and politicians to communicate policies in a simplified, communication-friendly, and dumbed-down form. This means that the established political and administrative logics are challenged by the media logic (Strømbäck 2008). While this may increase the chances that the minister receives media exposure (which is presumed to be politically beneficial), it also increases the chances that stakeholders and the populace at large misunderstand the message or content, which in turn may lead to disillusionment and electoral retribution.

Organization: Mediatization is claimed to have contributed to the making of a new profession, communication specialists, and a new relationship between organized interests and political institutions where so-called “policy professionals” gain more influence  (Garsten, Rothstein, Svallfors 2014). These groups and the organizations they are associated with have grown consistently over the past 10-15 years. Little is known about how such professionals view and influence the balance between loyalty and autonomy in bureaucracy, and how they interact with and affect the work and power of the historically dominant professions in the central bureaucracy: economists and experts in law and public administration.

Garsten, C. B. Rothstein, S.Svallfors (2015) Makt utan mandat: De policyprofessionella i svensk politik. Stockholm: Dialogos.
Hjarvard, S. (2008). "The Mediatization of Society. A Theory of the Media as Agents of Social and Cultural Change". Nordicom Review, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 105-134.
Strömbäck, J.  (2008) 'Four phases of mediatization: an analysis of the mediatization of politics' International Journal of Press/Politics, vol 13, nr. 3, s. 228-246
Thorbjørnsrud, K., Figenschou, T. U., & Ihlen, Ø. (2014). Mediatization of public bureaucracies. In K. Lundby (Ed.), Handbook on mediatization of communication (pp. 405-422). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton

Please send an abstract by October 15, 2015 to project manager Julie Munk:
For questions regarding workshop, please contact or other members of the organizing committee

Papers are due November 20, 2015

Organizing committee for CABS 2015

Haldor Byrkjeflot, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo
Paul du Gay, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School
Kristoffer Kolltveit, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo
Heidi Salomonsen, Department of  Political Science, Aalborg University

The page was last edited by: Public-Private Platform // 12/17/2017