How does an issue become a media topic? Who sets the agenda and how? Who actually has access to the public and how does public opinion emerge? And, how do all those processes change under the influence of new media and the condition of global communication? These are central issues discussed in the teaching and research area of “Public Communication”. The public, in this context, is not understood as opinions published by the mass media but defined as a complex social process. In manifold contexts people articulate their interests and/or issues and negotiate the conditions of how to live together. These processes need to be examined more closely, and the teaching and research area "Public Communication" focuses on the following aspects in its analyses:
Contexts of Public Communication
Public communication is not only influenced by the social conditions and power constellations existing at a particular historical moment, but also by cultural spaces and mentalities. We specifically take all these factors into account in our research projects. Processes in the public sphere are studied with reference to Europe, with a focus on transnational communication processes.
Meanwhile, media permeate virtually all areas of social and private life. This has not always been the case; the mediatized society has developed historically. We are interested in how the arrival of new media has opened up new communication opportunities and how individual lifeworlds, social participation opportunities and societies as a whole are changing in parallel.
Identities and Diversity
Beside mentalities, social placements and individual life experiences (e.g., gender, age, generation, education, class, milieu and migration) shape media practices: Accordingly, people approach the media in various different manners, making their interests and concerns public. In order to understand the complexity of human media related practices, we take into account the diverse individual and situational backgrounds and identities. This applies equally to people in the role of both communicator and recipient.
The media, among other players, shape our understanding of illness and health, our concepts of preventive measures and behavior which is detrimental to health, and our perception of justified but also inappropriate medical interventions. In addition, people specifically search for health information in media and exchange experiences of illness via social media. We try to fathom the interaction between media, society and the individual in the field of health communication.