Activation and articulation of authoritarian attitudes

Research project
Active research
Project size
5,5 million SEK
Project period
2021 - 2024
Project owner
The Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)

The Swedish Research Council, Vetenskapsrådet

Short description

A research project on the importance of the media for activation and articulation of authoritarian attitudes in society.


The purpose of the study is to investigate the impact of the media agenda and the framing of news on the emergence of authoritarian attitudes. Research suggests that predispositions for authoritarianism are fairly widespread within liberal democracy but authoritarian attitudes are activated under circumstances of crisis, threat and cultural tension.


This project aims to contribute to explanations of authoritarianism by focusing on how news media construct circumstances in relation to which authoritarian values are activated and attitudes articulated.


The project applies a multi-method design in three sub-studies:

  1. panel experiments,
  2. focus groups,
  3. a mix of automated text-analyses and discourse analyses of online discussion forums.


Three overall questions are asked:

  1. What is the impact of news frames on the activation of predispositions for authoritarian attitudes on societal issues?
  2. How do citizens with different values form and articulate attitudes in relation to societal issues on the news agenda?
  3. Under what circumstances do issues on the news agenda activate discussions on online forums in which authoritarian attitudes are articulated?

The project and research

The project (2021-2024), is lead by Mats Ekström and hosted by JMG, a distinguished research environment in political communication and media research. The project is innovative in integrating theories of authoritarianism, media discourse and media effects and is of high relevance in analyzing critical questions for liberal democracy.