New article accepted by the journal New Media & Society: Targeting dominant publics

A new article by Florian Toepfl and Eunike Piwoni is forthcoming in the journal New Media & Society. Its title and abstract read as follows:


Targeting dominant publics: How counterpublic commenters align their efforts with mainstream news


This study illustrates how the emphasis structure of counterpublic discourses surfacing online can be predicted by that of the dominant publics that these counterpublics – at the argumentative level – so resolutely oppose. Deploying a single common case study design, the article scrutinizes a counterpublic discourse that surfaced in the comment sections of Germany’s opinion-leading news websites in the week after the surprising electoral success of a new anti-Euro party, the AfD. Quantitative content analysis identifies 75% of all comments posted (n = 2,955) to all articles about the AfD (n = 19) as part of an anti-Euro counterpublic. While this counterpublic sharply opposed the editorial lines of Germany’s unanimously pro-common-currency media, it still aligned its efforts closely with this dominant public – albeit at a deeper level. As the findings demonstrate, the frequencies with which commenters adopted six emphasis frames were significantly predicted by the frequencies of these frames in mainstream news.


Keywords: political communication, counterpublics, public sphere, comment sections, content analysis, Germany


The accepted manuscript of the article can be downloaded here.