Discursive Media Institutionalism: Assessing Vivien A. Schmidt’s Framework and Its Value for Media and Communication Studies

Sarah Anne Ganter, Maria Löblich


Vivien A. Schmidt’s discursive institutionalism (DI) framework has gained considerable popularity in media and communication studies, particularly among scholars studying media institutions. However, while scholars refer to DI to emphasize the importance of ideas and discourses in institutional processes, to date, a critical assessment of the framework is lacking. In this article, we discuss DI from the perspective of media and communication studies and suggest a modified DI framework in which we (1) rethink discourse from a discourse theoretical perspective and emphasize power as a constituting element of media institutions, (2) differentiate between public (mass media) communication and other nonpublic and semipublic forms of communication, and (3) integrate macro perspectives (market, political system, culture, technology, globalization) into Schmidt’s micro–meso-focused framework. With these differentiations, our proposition is to be understood as a heuristic for a systematic analysis of media institutions as a field of power.


discursive media institutionalism, media policy, neoinstitutionalism, media policy as discourse, communication and power

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