Our February quote comes from the keynote speech given by Professor Jürgen Habermas as a plenary speaker at this year's ICA Conference in Dresden. In this section he cites the work of one of our own, Annenberg Dean Michael Delli Carpini. The title of the address, Political communication in media society – Does democracy still enjoy an epistemic dimension? The impact of normative theory on empirical research, was delivered June 20, 2006 to a packed audience.
"In spite of an inclusion of ever more citizens in the flows of mass communication, a comparison of recent studies arrives at an ambivalent, if not outright pessimistic conclusion about the kind of impact mass-communications has on the involvement of citizens in politics. (M. X. Delli Carpini, "Mediating Democratic Engagement: The Impact of Communications on Citizens' Involvement in Political and Civic Life" in L. Lee Kaid, Handbook of Political Communication, 2004). Several findings in the United States support the “video-malaise” hypothesis according to which people who more extensively use the electronic media, and consider them an important source of information, have a lower level of trust in politics and are more likely to take a cynical attitude towards politics as a consequence. If, however, reliance on radio and TV fosters feelings of powerlessness, apathy and indifference, we should not seek the explanation in the paralyzed state of civil society, but in the content and formats of a degenerating kind of political communication itself. The data I have mentioned suggest that the very mode of mediated communication contributes independently to a diffuse alienation of citizens from politics." --Jürgen Habermas
ICA has posted audio for the entire speech .