Crises constitute extraordinary challenges to modern democracies. They often have a global outreach and therefore challenge the representative institutions of national political systems. Crises, such as the global financial crisis, clearly points at the importance for the function of democracy. The nuclear disaster in Fukushima is not just a disaster for those in the neighborhood, but has consequences on energy debates around the globe. In Sweden the riots in Husby shook both the self-image and the way other countries perceive the Swedish society.
During a crisis communication between different core societal institutions is essential, and we investigate which consequences communication between institutions has on democracy and the individual citizen. Research on democracy and crisis communication is specifically relevant to understand the complex process which creates trust and legitimacy in society, and thereby ultimately a sustainable democracy.
Within the frame of the research theme “Crisis communication and sustainable democracy” crisis communication is primarily analyzed from a citizen perspective. This means a focus on the citizens’ possibilities to be informed during different kinds of crises, but does not exclude research on crisis communication between other actors (e.g. journalism and public communication etc.).
The crisis concept is broadly defined, meaning that both crisis caused by natural disasters, accidents and crises of trust towards public institutions are objects of study. Researchers included in the network investigate a wide variety of subjects such as media’s coverage of the financial crisis in Europe, how social protesters act politically, journalism associated with the riots in Husby in the summer of 2013 and how people received information about the events following publications on Instagram in Gothenburg around Christmas 2012. The focus is multidisciplinary, currently involving researchers from both the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. Within the research theme we also aim to establish cooperation beyond academia where we currently develop a project together with SVT regarding the riots in Husby.
Within the research theme we work with both qualitative and quantitative methods. The quantitative studies we perform together with the SOM institute, and using experiments and panel data analyses we mainly collect data through the citizen, politician and journalist panels developed by the Laboratory of Opinion Research, LORE.
The research theme welcomes cooperation within all disciplines and research groups interested in an improved understanding of the mechanisms of societal crises and how they can be connected to questions concerning opinion and democracy.