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The Fourth Age of Political Communication: Democratic decay or the rise of phronetic political communication?


In the fourth season of the television-drama “House of Cards” digitization plays a vital role for the political communication with the public as well as the struggle between the political opponents involved in the presidential election campaign. “House of Cards” presents a rather dystopic scenario, where policy professionals help resourceful political actors to hijack and manipulate the public debate.

The role of policy professionals (lobbyist, public affairs consultants, communication and media advisers etc.) has become vital, in what have been called the fourth age of political communications (Blumer, 2013) (See table 2). An explosion of different digital media platforms, an overload of information, and communication in networks as a supplement to hierarchies characterize the fourth age. Both traditional mass media and social media are subjected to mediatization, and thereby become dominated by the logic of news media (Blach-Ørsten, 2016).

In the public sphere medialized political communication has become vital to the power play among different actors, and the agenda setting of policy professionals have transformed the public sphere into an arena for influence in itself. The result has been the emergence of a system of privileged pluralism among organized interests (Binderkrantz, Christiansen, & Pedersen, 2015). Today we have a mediatized form of democracy, where the state, organized interests and the fragmented public sphere interact and create channels of influence that mainly the privileged few among political actors benefits from.

Today the public sphere is highly fragmented in different, interconnected spheres of public awareness, media platforms, audiences, and agendas. It is an ecosystem, with niches inhabited by a broad range of more or less professionalized political organizations (Mazzoleni & Schulz, 1999). The ability to nurse your niche – or to create niche legitimacy, through social and mass media – is increasingly a challenge for political organization. Only the elite among political actors can be expected to have the resources to participate in the emerging data-driven form of political communication we see today. That may very well limit the amount of voices and views in the public debate to the professionalized and well-organized.

In general we know very little about the effects of the newest media development (Bennett & Iyengar, 2008: 716). There is a huge need to study how the mix of mediatization and digitization affect public debate and democracy. The purpose of the paper is partly to explore and discuss how mediatization and digitization becomes vital to and transforms the praxis of political communication – and partly to discuss how the stance of policy professionals is vital for creating an informed and democratic public debate. So the paper asks the following research question: How does the role of policy professionals become essential in the fourth age of political communication? And how can policy professionals play a constructive role in the creation of an informed public debate?

In the next section I will frame digitization, (policy) profession and mediatization as institutional logics (Friedland & Alford R., 1991; Thornton, Ocasio, & Lounsbury, 2012). Institutional logics is defined as “the socially constructed, historical patterns of cultural symbols and material practices, including assumptions, values, and beliefs” (See also Meyer & Hammerschmid, 2006; Reay & Hinings, 2009; Thornton et al., 2012: 2). Logics have a symbolic or ideational side as well as a material side, concerning praxis (Thornton et al., 2012). After the theory section I will present and critically discuss the characteristics of mediatization and digitization. Then I will discuss the role of policy professionals in the creation of a new form of political communication, which is shaped by practical wisdom and ethical orientation. A final section concludes.

Theory: Institutional logics

Contemporary, pluralistic societies can be described as consisting of “dependent but partly autonomous institutional spheres of thought and action” (Olsen, 2006: 16). These spheres are “partly supplementing and partly competing” (ibid: 17). These institutional spheres can also be described as different institutional logics operating at the macro level of society (Friedland & Alford R., 1991). But the logics can also be found at the meso and micro level of society. Here institutional logics focus the attention of actors “on particular features of the organizations” as well as the environment (Thornton et al., 2012: 18). In this way, institutional logics constitute the social identities and behavior of actors.

When macro-institutional settings transform due to the supplementation or competition between institutional logics, the change directly affects the performance of the actors inside organizations. Macro-logics are transformed to the meso- and micro-levels of organizations through new requests for accountability, shifts in market conditions, increased innovation pressure, or new demands for political control, new legislation, or new normative environments.

Institutional logics contain enough contradictions to conflict. In the field of political communication policy professional may oppose data driven campaigns to the extent data specialist would recommend. Especially praxis-oriented policy professionals would usually distrust algorithms and be skeptical towards formal method (Kahneman & Klein, 2009: 523). Data specialist may oppose mediatization, because more significant features like long time economic development much better predict voter behavior than the media hype created around current events and scandals.

These contradictions exist, but according to the institutional logics perspective contradictions is not the same as insuperable dichotomies. This means that the contradicting logics can also be combined or mixed in praxis (Pache & Santos, 2010). They can supplement each other.

Three different institutional logics are relevant in this paper (See table 1): The logic of mediatization, the logic of digitization and the logic of profession.

Table 1: Three institutional logics that shapes political communication

  Logic of mediatization Logic of digitization Logic of profession
Material praxis Communication – mass, network, mobile, online/offline Collecting data, surveillance, auditing, processing data through digital technology Interaction with leaders, citizens, peers, stakeholders
Symbolic praxis Aesthetics in drama, performance, framing. Futuristic, progress, upscaling Expertise, qualifications
Actor identities Journalists, editors, media advisors Data specialist, engineers, statistic specialist Professionals of praxis, experts, advisers, consultants
Source of identity Publish or perish, communication skills Natural science Association with quality of craft. Personal reputation
Type of system Communication system Digital, sensoric system Professional association, guild

While profession has a long history in Western countries (Friedland and Alford 1991), digitization and mediatization can be seen as rather new macro-institutional logics that constitutes the public sphere in modern society, due to historical and technological development.

Previously, in the premodern phase (1900-1960), the public sphere was dominated by a centralized party press (See table 2). Political elites communicated directly to a class-divided audience, who were seen as passive participants in the debate of the elites. Later on, in the modern phase (1960-1990) electronical mass media had their breakthrough to the broad national, but still passive audience. Organized interest groups gained more influence by direct participation in governmental decision making. In the post-modern phase (1990- ) party press has declined and increased competition among self-owned media enterprises and media organizations has emerged. A broad range of different political organizations participate in mediated communication: Private enterprises, local based interest groups, public organizations, unions, new political parties, think tanks etc. They are all inclined to engage in a mediatized form of political communication.

As an institutional logic mediatization evolves around personified politics, scandals, conflicts, dramatic events and infotainment (Strömbäck, 2008: 18). Mediatization not only influence politics, but also other forms of institutional macro-logics of modern society, like family, education, religion, etc. (Hjarvad 2016: 18). Mediatization can be viewed as as a partly independent institution of modern society, but also a distinct way of relating and communicating in highly modern societies (Hjarvad, 2016: 45). As such mediatization constitutes the public arena of interaction among different societal domains.

Today we may be standing on the brink of a new fourth age of political communication (Blumler 2013). An age still characterized by increased mediatization and professionalization, increased competition for attention and fragmentation of the public sphere (Bennett & Iyengar, 2008: 707). Furthermore, the fourth age is characterized by an explosion of different digital media platforms, an overload of information, and communication in networks as a supplement to hierarchies. Media platforms converge and become interconnected. Traditional mass media and social media are both expected to be subjected to mediatization (Ørsten 2016). But digitization also unfolds its own specific symbolic and materials forms of praxis. Symbolic praxis involves a rhetoric framing of digitization as progressive and as the road into a prosperous and upscaled future. Material praxis involved task like collecting data, surveillance and auditing.

In the next two sections the logics of mediatization and digitization will be outlined more thoroughly.

Table 2: Overview of the different phases of political communication development

Phase The public sphere Recipients Media Political actors State form
The premodern phase Centralized, party press Passive Newspapers, party press The elite, old political parties The nation state
The modern Phase two-step models emerge Passive Breakthrough of mass media, Still party press, state monopoly on electronic media Political parties, organized interests  groups The welfare state
The late modern phase Increased fragmentation, mediatization Passive, seen as an individualized citizen. Privatization of media, dying party press, increased professionalization Elites isolated in ‘Bermuda triangles’ increased professionalization The competition state
A fourth phase? Interactivity, continued fragmentation, mediatization, algorithms shape public awareness Increasingly active, but still individualized Stagnation of mass media, emergence of digital media. Everyone collects data The digital state

Mediatization and the distorted public debate

We live in a mediatized world. No part of society escape mediatization: politics, religion, private business, art, family life etc. When it comes to politics mediatization means that media and political actors have a tendency to favor huge events, polarized drama and personal conflicts. Events like political or administrative scandals would have a tendency to dominate political communication. Complicated stories are neglected, and in general attempts to create rational-critical debate suffer (Strömbäck 2008).

Mediatization means that media has become present everywhere in the administrative and political awareness of the modern state. Some bureaucrats see themselves as chased by the media from case to case or scandal to scandal. Civil servants are pressed to become whistleblowers and unwillingly sources for media stories (Smith, 2015: 71-72).

A range of scholars share this belief and argues that mediatization leads to less autonomy of political actors. Mediatization simply crowd out the logics of political debate and decision making. Strömback (2008) see mediatization as a logic that shapes politics on behalf of the power of politicians and the institutional logic of the state. According to Mazzoleni and Schulz (1999) mediatized politics is politics that has lost its autonomy and has become dependent on the mass media and are shaped by the mass media.

Seen from an institutional logics perspective, the outcome is somewhat different: Instead of crowding out state logic and political decision making, media logic and the political logic integrates – or become mixed. Different logics can very well conflict and crowd out each other, but they can also be combined and mixed. Hjarvad (2016:33) argues that mediatization contains two tendencies: First the independence of the media and creation of media as an institution – and secondly, the integration of the media in other spheres of society. Mediatization is both a macro- structure in the larger society, but also part of the internal structures of organizations. That means that the relations between media and other societal spheres are altered, while the conditions for communication and interaction in late modern societies are changed (ibid: 39). On the other hand mediatization not just changes other societal spheres. Media also adapts to the surrounding world, and other spheres become integrated in the media organizations (ibid: 49).

Actually, politicians can gain influence, if they adopt mediatization. Scandals are reported to be a driving force in the increased bureaucratization and centralization of the state. Scandals are used as a kind of change event, where politicians can decide and implement new bureaucratic standards and rules to prevent new scandals (J. S. Pedersen & Aagaard, 2015). Likewise, a limited amount of resourceful politicians are reported to be able to influence the public agenda with a limited set of subjects (Ørsten 2016: 211). The result is a centralized or rather elite form of public debate.

Not only bureaucrats and politicians use mediatization.  A range of huge, resourceful interest organizations does the same. Resourceful interest organizations are able to trade bits of news-worthy information with attention from the media. This means that the public sphere has become a distinct arena for caretaking of interest, side by side with the neo-cooperative decision making systems in modern governance, where interest organization participate in formal commissions and councils (Nielsen & Pedersen, 1989; O. K. Pedersen, 2006). In other words, mediatization has led to a state of privileged pluralism (Binderkrantz et al 2015).

Mediatization may not crowd-out political decision-making, but it may distort what we believe to be a democratic and informed public debate. Mediatization is often criticized for bringing along a trivialized form of public debate. Professionalized political communication can very well be approached as political marketing or branding (Marsh & Fawcett, 2011), where political actors engage in “permanent campaigns” in their attempt to conquer the public agenda (Bennett & Manheim, 2006: 228). But if political communication is just like selling soap powder, a mediatized form of public debate are deprived important value-orientation and information.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, mediatization tends to centralize the public debate on a smaller set of subjects, suppressing a broader and perhaps more vital public debate in the mass media as well as the social media. Getting attention becomes the hard currency among political actors. This means that mediatization changes the rules of the game, so to speak. Consequently, politicians and political actors must learn these new rules, it they want to obtain and maintain political influence. Those who do not have the resources to learn the rules – or even play the new game, can be expected to lose influence. So, political actors must at least be able to professionalize their political communication, if they what to be taken serious as players of the power game.

Also, as mentioned above, mediatization of social media seems to constitute the general belief that online political communication need to be structured along the lines of network. The networked form of mediatization is interactive. If you are online you are (in theory) able to communicate directly with even central decision makers. That means that political communication relations no longer consist of active communicators on the one side and passive audiences on the other side. The belief is that the audience becomes active communicators as well. That conceptualization may give us the impression that political communication also follows other structural features of network, like horizontal relations and power symmetry. Public affairs people often preach a similar kind of dialogue based relation to the broader society. They often do so to nurse a societal legitimacy of their organization (Merkelsen, 2007: 271). Public affairs consultants – and political actors in general – may preach interconnectedness, dialogue and interdependency with their constituencies through social media, but highly asymmetrical communication and power play will continuously be the correct characteristic of the political communication we see emerging. Power has always been and can still expect to be present everywhere in political communication. So, though the symbolic praxis of online mediatization draws on metaphors that may rime on increased democratization, the material praxis maintain asymmetrical power relations.

Digitization and the blindness to politics

Data specialist and statistic specialist constitute and are constituted by digitization as an institutional logic. Datasets, performance scoring, algorithms, evidence based analysis, and intelligent feedback systems materialize the logic in the field of political communication.

Digitization impact political communication in two ways: 1) In the growing use of data-mining the strategic planning of political communication – and 2) in the growing use of digital media in political communication.

Digitization provides ranking systems, based on score systems and self-reported data, data on quality, costs, effects, and user-satisfaction.  Digital media makes it possible to generate huge sets of data, especially when it comes to the habits and routines, likes and dislikes of the users of digital media. ‘Big data’ sets gathered through digital media can create almost online data on every part of the media production, on the quality of media content as well as the apparent efficiency of the communication. Digitization has made it possible to gather data on how political actors, like voters correlate with reactions to events like political statements, new laws etc.

This development opens up a whole range of opportunities for the strategic planning of political communication. Not only does the ‘permanent campaigns’ (Bennett & Manheim, 2006. 228) of political organizations increasingly become data-driven (Nickerson & Rogers, 2014). Since data makes it possible to compare the detailed preferences of very narrow targeted groups, or even individuals directly, digitization proponents believes that political communication can also become a lot more accountable and efficient. In other words, the big-data hype brings a promise of improved predictability. For example, the huge political parties in the United States bring in skillful analytics to predict voters behavior based on huge data sets (ibid). If political organization in general becomes able to store and data mine huge sets of data on habits, likes and dislikes, policy professionals may also be able to make trustworthy forecast on citizen’s attitudes towards policy ideas and future legislation. This improved predictability has the potential to restore the belief in linear effects in political communications.

But the gains cannot just be harvested by political organizations. Digitization creates a need for new capabilities. According to digitization proponent the technology is changing the framework conditions for policy professionals significantly. Policy professionals must now also be good at gathering data on media effects among target groups or purchase specified sets of data from media agencies. Policy professionals must also be good at using digitization strategically. The overall purpose is to improve media management and niche nursing.

Not only can the resourceful political organizations benefit. According to the digitization opponents the prize on algorithm-tools and dataset are expected to drop. So, if citizens embrace digitization, it can significantly subvert societal hierarchies; empower local based interests or even the single citizen. Every skilled and creative citizen can tap data, gain new insight and influence political communication (Whelan, 2012), through the interactivity of social media. Social media has significantly created new ways to communicate. The individual citizen is no longer dependent on strong ties to groups or collectives, like family or corporation, but is able to communicate more flexible and to exploit the weak ties that digital media gives access to (Hjarvad 2016: 53).


The benefits and promises of digitization are probably over-hyped. Though the prize on hardware, software and data-sets can be expected to drop over time, it may still be a very costly affair to actively pursue a digitization strategy in political communication. Adding to this, data-sets not always come in a neat and appropriate form, but are often messy. But the challenges and limits of digitization are even more profound.

Digitization makes it possible for political organizations to put numbers on their own activities. Those numbers can also be communicated externally to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the public. In the public sector this mean that digitization becomes part of a mediatized game of distribution of resources. We already see this as a consequence of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) among public schools. The PISA test-results can be read as a ranking system among public schools based on the pupils performance. In a mediatized world organizations in extreme statistical position are always good news, though a complicated and not very news-worthy social situation may lie behind the numbers.

When it comes to digital media, digitization not only enables but also disables individuals in their communication. Digital media is built on and structured by pre-programmed algorithms that sets specific preferences and sustain digital interaction. Algorithms – rather than social awareness guide our choices, likes and dislikes on social media. Algorithms increasingly determine what we become aware of on the Internet. Algorithms sustain a networked type of mediatization, based on popularity, ranking, personal recommendations etc. (Hjarvad 2016: 53).

The limitation of numbers and algorithms can also be found in data-driven political campaigns. Though there may be clear advantages of using data in campaigns, data is also clearly limited: “Big data analytics may receive media attention, but its effectiveness is entirely reliant on the strength of more traditional aspect of the campaign. If a campaign does not have effective outreach to voters, then predictive analytics cannot solve that problem” (Nickerson & Rogers 2014:67).

There is a path dependency attached to digitization, based on the quest for an ideal world through quantifiable measures, formal methods and tangible elements. In consequence knowledge is seen as something that can be collected, stored and moved around in a database. This concept of knowledge bring along a belief and quest for causal predictability. It is a concept that thrives in the natural sciences, and it is familiar to the Aristotelian idea of episteme, where knowledge is seen as universal and generalized instead of context-bound and specific.

Because of these features there is a form of scientification attached to digitization, where the outcome of digitized organizations and societies is seen as hard based facts and evidence, which can hardly be debated in political terms. Similar, interpretations of big data correlations are often presented as scientific evidence for strong causality, though correlations aren’t the same as causality (Mayer-Schönberger & Cukier, 2013). This scientification tends to eradicate political and ethical questions from public debate. Digitization may create consistency in counting, in surveillance, in auditing, in categorizing, but it is blind to simple, obvious questions like: Why count? Why surveil? Why popularize? Why categorize?

Discussion: Can policy professionals be the drivers of phronetic political communication?

Today, it is difficult to comprehend the public sphere as an integrated distinct societal sphere. The public sphere in the age of late modernity is highly fragmented in different, interconnected spheres of public awareness, media platforms, audiences, and agendas. As mentioned in the introduction, the public sphere is best described as an ecosystem, with niches inhabited by a broad range of more or less professionalized political organizations (Mazzoleni and Schulz 1999). The ability to nurse your niche – or to create niche legitimacy, through social and mass media – is increasingly a challenge for political organizations.

Political organizations become populated by policy professionals (Esmark, 2012: 162) in the attempt to handle niche nursing. Policy professionals are often highly educated persons with university degrees and/or yearlong expertise from national government administration or media organization. They are typically employed as communication or media advisors, ‘spin doctors’, editors, public relations or public affairs consultants, lobbyists, etc. – all recognized for their expertise in agenda setting and ‘niche nursing’. They know how to influence policy and decision makers and how to ‘sell’ policy solutions at the right time and place. They are expected to be able to deliver trustworthy facts to decision makers, and to create and nurse networks (Hegelund & Mose, 2014).

They may still not be recognized at the top level of their political organizations as a profession on their own terms, but mediatization clearly elevates awareness of policy professionals in the eyes of the top management of political organizations (Moss, McGrath, Tonge, & Harris, 2012: 58). In general, a profession is characterized by trust in expertise and the quality of crafts in skilled persons (See table 1). Trust is based on reputation maintained in a relational network of peers, associations, guilds or likewise (Thornton et al 2012). So, the judging of true skilled expertise is based on the history of successful outcomes as well as peer judgment. Experts are the ones that are recognized as experts in their profession as skilled at the highest level (Kahneman & Klein 2009: 519). That is also the case, when it comes to policy professionals in political communication.

Often we connect the work of policy professionals with the caretaking of the power interest of elites. Policy professionalism tends to be excluding and preserve political communication for the elite and detach it from the broader public. Likewise professionalized ‘niche nursing’ may have a tendency to fragment the public sphere. Policy professionals do not nurse the interest of the public, but of political organizations. As the ‘hired guns’ of elites policy professional may very well make compromises on behalf of a higher ethics that in the long run may undermine an informed and democratic public debate (See for example Tynell, 2014: 321).

Power will always be part of political communication, and policy professionals will always serve the interests of political organizations. But this is not necessarily bad for an informed, democratic public debate. Different political organizations have different – and in general legitimate interest in influencing the public agenda. To put it short: morally speaking – policy professionals can make news, but they cannot fake news.

But policy professionals can play a much more profound and important role. Inherent with the position of a genuine profession also come a more ethical orientation as well as a quest for value based wisdom. To take care of their role in legitimate ways policy professionals must obtain and display practical wisdom (phronesis). Practical wisdom takes account of the contextual circumstances, hereunder the distribution of power. As such it is not objective, but rather a value based form of knowledge, which comes to life as ad a habitual disposition, when actor tries “to do the right thing, at the right time and for the right reason” (Küpers & Pauleen, 2015 (online version): 494). Practical wisdom thus places the experiences of professionals at the centre of attention, and puts practical knowledge and practical ethics into focus (Flyvbjerg, 2006: 371; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 2011: 59). This is clearly an ideal. Professionals may have a tendency to put practical knowledge and ethics into focus. But there is of course no guarantee that such a tendency qualifies to be wisdom.

But the need for professional judgment based on practical wisdom may be rising. When the technological possibilities for data-driven communication are growing, data is no longer what is missing. Numbers and categories do not make much sense in themselves. What instead becomes a challenge is the ability to ask clever questions of how to create public and political value. Only human narratives can make data meaningful and are able to expose the data to human justification. In other words: political, governmental and professional mindsets and values become a challenge and a key-asset. So, professional judgment may be even more important than before, and here policy professionals have a key-role to play.

Of course this is easier said than done. McGrath et al (2010: 338) argue that policy professionals are subjected to a double legitimacy-relationship, called window-in/window out. This means that policy professionals must both obtain legitimacy in the eyes of their organizational leadership. On the other hand they must also gain legitimacy in the eyes of external stakeholders. Such legitimacy may not be public or address the common good, but it can very well be so, if citizens, clients or media organizations are among the stakeholders.

There may not always be a conflict between window in and window out legitimacy, but often there is, and it is the task of policy professionals to navigate and handle this. Ideally, their navigation will be based on a phronetic form of political communication. Phronetic political communication should be based on simple questions, such us: Who benefits from your actions? And who loses? How do your actions affect the common good? What are the democratic consequences of your actions?

Though policy professionals should take the driver seat to impose a more ethical form of political communication, they may still benefit a lot from digitization. Proponents of professionalism often argue that professionals can make intuitive judgments during uncertain conditions and time-pressure. Based on their training, often yearlong experience and an increase of tacit knowledge many policy professionals believe that they are able to extract cues from the political environment and make skilled, intuitive judgments.

Sometimes professionals may be right, and in complex situation predictions made by experienced professionals can clearly be better than predictions made by inexperienced professionals. But most often professional judgement is flawed and based on simple heuristics. Also policy professional’s assessments, prognoses, feedback mechanisms and learning abilities are often weak and based on heuristics. Lack of systematic approach and consistency are the spoilers of their ability to make intuitive expert judgment.  History and politics is simply too complex to predict (Kahnemann & Klein 2009: 520). So the problem for policy professionals is that high-validity environments – and consequently opportunities to learn – almost never exists in politics.

Furthermore, professionals, even skilled ones, have a tendency to stick to what they already know. In other words:  professionals are often path-dependent.  Actors tend to stick what they already know would work in one context, until they are no longer successful (Thornton et al 2012). Any form of intuitive judgment will likewise tend to be biased, since professionals will be guided by logic of appropriateness (March, 1991).  In environments loaded with low validity, algorithms will perform better than humans. In such situations algorithms are more likely to find the weakly valid cues that judgment can be made upon. Furthermore, algorithms will be more consistent that humans. Humans get distracted; algorithms don’t (Kahneman and Klein 2009: 523). The point made here is that digitization cannot replace humans in political communication, but it can very well help policy professionals to become wiser.


How does the role of policy professionals become essential in the fourth age of political communication? And how can policy professionals play a constructive role in the creation of an informed public debate?

Political communication is not just a front stage exercise in the form of marketing, framing and branding.  Politics has not disappeared from the public arenas or have been crowded out by mediatization and digitization. Instead, as institutional logics digitization and mediatization are mixed and combined with other and more mature institutional logics – such as the market, the state and the profession. Policy professionals are the key actors in this development. Policy professionals have the potential to enact the role of institutional entrepreneurs and mix the different logics. While such a mix may very well lead us into democratic decay, based on elitism and a more centralized public debate, it may also hold fruitful potentials for a more democratic and ethical type of political communication.

Digitization may very likely alter the role of policy professionals, from hallway lobbyist, spin doctor or communication adviser towards a form of screen professional that uses sophisticated data systems in their intuitive judgment.  Digitization can surely improve professional political communication, when it comes to a long range of standard procedures, such as oversight, surveillance and data collection. Policy professionals broadly recognize this. On the other hand digitization systems cannot be compassionate, dream or understand common sense. They cannot exercise practical wisdom or create political outreach in campaigns. That is why digitization can make mindsets and the awareness of human and cultural values a key-asset, and that is why policy professionals cannot replace direct dialogue with citizens, media and stakeholders with data-driven campaigning. The belief in data-driven political communication, where algorithms substitute humans runs the risk of “automation bias”. People tend to be passive and less vigilant when algorithms are in charge (Klein and Kahnemann 2009:524).


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Do Digital Systems and Concepts in Modern Public Service Production Have a Negative Impact on Citizens as End-users?

Do digital systems and concepts in modern public service production have a negative impact on citizens as end-users? To answer this research question, we shall first present our theoretical framework ‘the institutional logics perspective’ and show how we deploy this on modern public service production. Second, we claim that digital systems and concepts develop a new institutional logic within modern public service production: the ‘digital logic’. Third, we analyze and discuss the new logic´s possible impact on citizens as end-users. Fourth, we discuss the ethical dimensions of values and ethics in relation to public service production and digitizing.

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