The main purpose of this thesis is to study mediated political communication in Stockholm, focusing on media content as well as media consumption and the role media play in a democracy. The study is based on content analysis of local and regional media (newspapers, tv and radio) in the greater Stockholm region and on a survey with 2 440 answers from people living in different parts of the region.
Three different theoretical perspectives are combined in the thesis:Political communication and the question whether media has a positive or negative impact on political processes. The perspective of media as a part of the public sphere as described by Habermas, and the publis spheres in a society with a fragmented media use. The role of media in the integration of people in local society and in creating a place identity.
The results show that a large part of the region is in a ”media shadow”, seldom covered by the regional media. When the big media report about suburbs where most people live the picture is full of negative stereotypes creating a picture of the dangerous suburb. The picture in the local papers distributed for free is different. They are the only source of local information for citizens in the suburbs and are very important for local identity.
The results also show that the public sphere in Stockholm is divided. The wealthier areas of Stockholm read daily subscription newspapers, and the less affluent suburbs rely mostly on thin free newspapers like Metro. In wealthy areas people use public service channels in radio and tv, and in suburbs the commercial channels are as big as the national public service. High quality political news for the wealty areas and free short news and entertainment is an important factor behind the knowledge gap and the gap in political interest between different social groups.
Consequently, the models that work on the assumption that media and citizens are homogeneous groups in the political communication correspond less to the realities of political communication. Instead a politically divided society emerges, where large groups of citizens find themselves outside the processes of political communication. Today one third are neither interested in politics nor do they have faith in politicians. They abandon politically relevant media content and switch to entertainment. This is the group which does not see any point in engagement and more and more often stays at home on polling day.