Research Projects

Ongoing projects

Digital Stress in the Media (2019-2023)

The project aims to systematically analyse how digital stress (as a social phenomenon) is discussed publicly. The project focuses on the following questions:

Which media actually deal with digital stress? How is it described, i.e. which affected groups and environments, causes and symptoms are addressed? And which specific subsequent health issues, but also which possible prevention measures, are discussed?

  1. In a first step, a conceptual field analysis explores in which media and under which terms digital stress is addressed.
  2. Based on this, a qualitative content analysis of relevant online forums will be conducted in order to examine how digital stress presents itself from the perspective of those affected and which coping strategies they recommend.
  3. In addition to the individual perspective, a quantitative content analysis of the depiction of digital stress in mass media will be conducted. It focuses on environments in which stress arises, characteristics of the described digital stress and attributes of persons affected by digital stress (stereotypes, etc.). It will be analyzed to what extent media coverage follows classical media logics (e.g., stereotypes) or current research findings on digital stress.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Susanne Kinnebrock

Project Manager: Dr. Cordula Nitsch

Project Duration: 2019-2023

Funding: The Bavarian Research Association ForDigitHealth





Effects of Narrative Evidence in Science News Coverage of Genomic Research (2017-2023)

The project investigates how journalists use different strategies to provide evidence for scientific claims in science news and how such “evidencing practices” ultimately affect the audience. Narratives are generally considered to be close to everyday life and allow an intuitive understanding of complex scientific issues.

In the first phase (2017-2020) of this project, evidencing practices in German print and television news stories on genomic research were examined in a content analysis. Results show that almost half of the scientific claims made in science news were accompanied by narratives. In addition, narratives did not stand alone, but were most often combined with other types of evidencing practices (i.e. references to authorities, or references to data). Narratives are used to support scientific claims and only rarely to contradict them. Generally, the narratives found in science coverage have a rich narrative quality (or high level of narrativity). Three types of narratives have emerged: stories of (1) the process of research and the course of the 

study, (2) scientists conducting the research and (3) people benefitting from the research or being affected by it.

The second phase (2020-2023) of the project proceeds from this differentiated view on narratives in science news coverage. Following theories of narrative processing and persuasion, we assume that different types of stories have different effects in audiences. Also, we expect that narrativity (the way in which the plot, the structure and the language of a story are elaborated) plays a significant role. The goal of the second phase is to explore such differential effects of narratives. Three consecutive experiments with cross-sectional samples investigate the effects of narratives on recall, understanding of scientific criteria, and the credibility of the studies and researchers. We will systematically investigate the effects of the three types of narratives and lower and higher levels of narrativity. Narrative engagement – the subjective experience of being immersed in a story – is used as a central mediator.

By considering the effects of different narratives of science on audiences, this project explores a mode of communication that is equally relevant for communicating and negotiating between different cultures of evidencing – not least due to its intuitive appeal. In doing so, the project supports a central tenet of the research group by providing insight into the way in which individuals interpret and acquire knowledge about and accept scientific evidence. Having analysed the dynamics between destabilizing and restabilizing forces on scientific evidence in the content analysis in the first phase, this phase considers the interaction and again submits it to a careful test: The second phase specifically explores to the conditions under which stabilizing effects of science narratives actually occur on an individual level.


Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Susanne Kinnebrock & Prof. Dr. Helena Bilandzic

Project Manager: Theresa Stahlhut

Project duration: 2017-2023

Funding: Part of the DFG-Research Unit “Practicing Evidence - Evidencing Practice in Science, Medicine Technology and Society“





“Caring About Care”: Until the End of Life… Perceptions of Autonomy, Responsibility and Vulnerability (2015–2019)

The project "Caring about Care" was dedicated to the question of why people decide for or against advance care planning (ACP) for final stages of life. From a gender and culture sensitive perspective, it was examined how ideas of autonomy, vulnerability and the need for care affect the preparation for future situations of dependency and to what extent these ideas are shaped by (public) debates on advance care planning. In order to explore the argumentation patterns in public debates, the mass media coverage in print media and TV, the medical scientific literature as well as the advice literature on living wills were analysed. Moreover, which positions and expectations the population holds on ACP, how ACP is discussed in online forums and among professional (legal, medical and social) consultants was also examined. The project’s findings show that the topic of ACP is not addressed in a gender and culture sensitive way, neither in public debates nor in people's life worlds. Moreover, patterns of argumentation that emphasize the autonomy of the individual over care and responsibility centred perspectives were found in public debates as well as in people's beliefs. The project thus illustrates that individual ideas of advance care planning are (also) shaped by public discourse.


Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Susanne Kinnebrock & Prof. Dr. Dr. Mariacarla Gadebusch Bondio

Project Managers: Anna Wagner, Dr. Manuel Menke & Rico Krieger

Project Duration: 2015-2019

Funding: The Bavarian Research Association ForGenderCare





Mothers for the State”: Female connoted Social Work as a Historical Legitimation Pattern on the Way to Equal Rights (1890-1919 / 1945-1960)? (2015-2019)

This interdisciplinary cooperation project (History and Communication) examines the discursive connection between gender and care initially postulated by the first German women’s movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Based on women’s traditional responsibility for care work, middle-class feminists successfully redefined care as a governmental responsibility. Referring to the remarkable engagement of women in care work and the increasing professionalization of social work at the time, the feminists underpinned their demands for more participation in society and political rights. As a reaction to the lack of a welfare state and the resulting social problems, the German (middle-class) women’s movement successfully organized care work and helped to create state structures for professional social work, publicly emphasizing that women in particular had great expertise in care.

The project thus analyses the connection between gender and care on two levels: how it was publicly constructed in the media and how (historic) practices of female care work actually changed. It focuses on two periods characterized by different contextual conditions: First, the heyday of the organized women’s movement during the time of the German Empire (1890 – 1918) when middle-class feminists politicized care in the light of their deprived legal and political status as women and supported the establishment of a welfare state. Second, the restorative post war period (1945 - 1960) when women had political rights, but the women’s movement had declined. Similar to imperial times, women’s responsibility for care was not questioned: however, care vanished from the arena of public debate and necessary care work was predominately carried out in private. Care was no longer politicized and there was instead a rise in retraditionalization trends.


Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Susanne Kinnebrock & Prof. Dr. Sylvia Schraut

Project Managers: Désirée Dörner, Mirjam Höfner & Dr. Andre Dechert

Project Duration: 2015-2019

Funding: The Bavarian Research Association ForGenderCare



Completed Research Projects

Convergent Media Production: National Practices and European Trends (2012-2016)

Cooperation Project with the University of the Bundeswehr, Munich, the Institute of Applied Media Studies, Zurich, the University of Navarra, Pamplona, the Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon, and the University of Salzburg

(Susanne Kinnebrock & Manuel Menke)


The Local Newspaper “Münchner Merkur” and the Preferences of its Readers – an Explorative Study on User Habits and the Role of the Local Press in Media Repertoires (2013-2014)

(Susanne Kinnebrock, Christian Schwarzenegger & Barbara Nazarewska, funded by the Münchner Merkur)


ECREA: History of a Communication Association for Europe (since 2010)

Cooperation Project with Södertorn University, Stockholm

(Christian Schwarzenegger & Anne Kaun)


"Audimaxismus" - Demands and Social-political Positions of the Protest Movement “Vienna 2009” (2010)

(Christian Schwarzenegger and Cornelia Brantner, Axel Maireder, Irmgard Wetzstein, University of Vienna, funded by the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna (MA 7)


Public Communication in the Digital Age: Implementation of Convergent Media Production in German Newspapers (2010-2012)

(Susanne Kinnebrock & Sonja Kretzschmar, funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Germany)


Science and Society in Dialogue? PR 2.0 for Universities (2010-2011)

Cooperation with the Department for Public Relations of RWTH Aachen University and “RWTH extern”

(Susanne Kinnebrock & Christian Schwarzenegger)


Gender Constructs in German, Austrian and Swiss Newspapers (2008-2012)

Cooperation Project with the Austrian Academy of Sciences

(Susanne Kinnebrock, Birgit Stark &Melanie Magin, funded by the City of Vienna)


Narrative News Formats (2008-2012)

Cooperation Project with Helena Bilandzic and her DFG-Project „TV-Stories and Social Reality“

(Susanne Kinnebrock)


Journalism as a Profession for Women in the Beginning of the 20th Century (2007)

(Susanne Kinnebrock, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany, and the German Data Forum)


Political Magazines for Women and their Audiences (2005-2006)

(Susanne Kinnebrock, funded by the Program of the Bund-Länder Commission for Educational Planning and Research Promotion)


Political Magazines for Women from 1725 to 1933 (2004-2005)

(Susanne Kinnebrock, funded by the Program of the Bund-Länder Commission for Educational Planning and Research Promotion)