About Us

fög was established in order to systematically monitor the basic building blocks of the social world, namely communication events. Communication events are topics which compete for attention in public communication. We investigate events such as the current economic crisis because public communication is the most important medium for a society to govern and integrate itself.

What are our research questions?

Our research questions are linked to the central focus of the social sciences, namely: how can we describe and understand the transformation of the social order of contemporary society?

  • The question of social transformation: Here we focus on the long-term observation of contemporary modern societies on the basis of public communication. We are especially interested in phases of crisis and upheaval in social developments, in which existing guiding ideas and structures change radically within a short time. The selection and careers of communication events with a powerful impact are analyzed over time periods as long as possible and in country comparisons.
  • The question of the structural transformation of the public sphere: Here we focus on changes in the interest patterns of public communication and their effects on society. We examine the transformation of the communicative exchange relationships between the media, business and politics, the financial development of the media as well as changes in the quality of a mediated public sphere.
  • The question of the transformation of institutions, organizations and roles: Here we specialize in mediatization effects, i.e. in the transformation of the respective action systems, their institutions and organizations as a consequence of the new structural transformation of the public sphere. We investigate how the reputation of institutions, organizations and role-bearers is being transformed by the news coverage, the transformation of the mediated reputation constitution of institutions, organizations and role-bearers in a long-term and country comparison, and examine how these social units change as a result of the transformation of public communication.

What are our research projects?

On the basis of these three research questions, we pursue research projects, especially in the sectors of political communication, economic communication and the quality of the media/media transformation.

  • Political communication: Here we are interested in how the political public sphere is changing under the conditions of a mediatized society and what consequences arise from this for society and democracy.
  • Economic communication: Here we are concerned with the effects of new interest patterns on the resonance and reputation of the economic and political-economic actors. Special interest is directed to the changed reputation constitution of these actors, the associated building of trust and the development of the economy.
  • Quality of the media/media transformation: Here we analyze the transformation of the media structures and of the journalistic quality of information supply . The analysis covers the four media types – namely print, radio, TV and online - in the three main Swiss language regions. We regularly publish the results of this research in our Yearbook Quality of the Media – Switzerland (Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera).

How is fög organized?

fög is an associated institute of the University of Zurich. Its staff comprises 10 scientific and technical-administrative employees as well as some 15 advanced students.

fög is directed by the Board of the fög Foundation and the institute management. The Foundation Board is responsible for setting the strategic orientation of fög. The Board is chaired by Mark Eisenegger.

fög is funded by research partnerships and research funding programs at national and international level, and is sponsored by the University of Zurich and the Kurt Imhof Foundation for Media Quality (former Foundation for Society and the Public Sphere). The research partnerships are selected on the basis of scientific aspects and pursue basic research in the focal areas. We do not carry out any contract research, and we aim to set up long-term research partnerships.