Agenda setting in a networked public sphere


The central aim of the project is to investigate the dynamics between traditional mass media and social media in political communication and agenda setting. This project takes into account the digital, networked media ecology to define and understand the changing relations between citizens, journalists and politicians.

Data collection will be centered around the elections in 2014, held at regional (Flemish), national (Belgian) and European level.

Also in an international context, parallel projects are set up. They represent similar theoretical and methodological aspects that will allow cross-national comparisons. The Social Media and Agenda-Setting in Election campaigns (SAC) project, based at the University of Oslo, is centered around the impact of social media in election campaigns in multiple countries (Norway, the USA, Sweden and Australia).

In addition, our project fits within a European research collaboration titled ‘Twitter and the public sphere. The European elections in 2014’. This collaboration is embedded in the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) and is called ‘Transforming audiences, transforming societies’.

Research design

This project aims to contribute to the realignment of the traditional research tradition with current social and media conditions, both on a theoretical and a methodological level.

A first research stage entails an overview and understanding of the primary media channels for political communication. More specifically the use of online social media by politicians.

Secondly, we focus on the relation between social media and traditional media and the way they influence one another. Methodological tools include network analysis, content analysis and in-depth interviews.

Duration of the project

The project runs from 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2015.

Staff involved

  • Prof. dr. Pieter Verdegem
  • Evelien D'heer

Financed by

  • University Research Fund (BOF)