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Consumerism as a Topic in German Public Service Broadcasting: Status quo and Prospects of Facilitating a Paradigm Shift
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Media and Communication Studies.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The master thesis followed an interdisciplinary approach of applying the ideas of selected schools of economic thought that demand a paradigm shift in consumption towards “sustainable consumption” in the realm of media and communication studies. The purpose of the study was to understand the status quo of how consumerism is depicted in media, taking German public service broadcasting as an object of analysis. It was aimed to critically evaluate the role in the paradigm shift assigned to media by the schools of economic thought. Hence, the prospects of media facilitating a paradigm shift were investigated. The thesis leaned on the functions of media in democratic societies and agenda setting theory, especially the agenda setting process and respective influences. Also media’s gatekeeping function and power in society resulting from agenda setting were considered. A Conventional Qualitative Content Analysis of 1.228 minutes TV material from German public service broadcasting was conducted. 32% of the coverage was characterized as critical of contemporary consumption, mainly identified in the topics clothing / textiles, food and health. Critical coverage was not established in the topics private energy consumption, financial investments and cleaning / washing. It was discovered that societal arguments instead of environmental harms of consumption lead the critical discourse. Additionally, interviews with experts from German public service broadcasting identified the institutions’ reliance on their reporting function. Thus, they acknowledged supporting this societal change passively. Newsworthiness, relevance and journalistic norms as well as active engagement of citizens must be ensured in order for media to facilitate a paradigm change. The master thesis considerably contributed to media research in its highly individualized way of approaching the media agenda of broadcasting despite the restrictions of small-scale projects. The research can serve as a pilot for future large-scale projects in the various ways.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 182 p.
Keyword [en]
Interdisciplinary approach, Public service broadcasting, Germany, media agenda setting, Conventional Qualitative Content Analysis, email expert interviews, social responsibility of media, consumption, sustainable development, paradigm change
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-226026OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-226026DiVA: diva2:723408
Subject / course
Digital Media
Educational program
Master Programme in Social Sciences
2014-05-27, Ekonomikum, Uppsala, 11:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-06-11 Created: 2014-06-10 Last updated: 2014-06-11Bibliographically approved

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