Media, Democracy and Small States: Political Communication in Iceland

Olafsson, Jon Gunnar. 2019. Media, Democracy and Small States: Political Communication in Iceland. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

No full text available
[img] Text (Media, Democracy and Small States: Political Communication in Iceland)
MED_thesis_OlafssonJ_2019.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 31 July 2024.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)

Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the dissemination of political information in Iceland through an investigation of three interlinked and under-studied areas of research in the country. The research gaps concern perceptions of routine political news coverage, the politician-journalist relationship, and the impact of social networking sites on interactions between the public, journalists and politicians, as well as on news coverage of politics. The data in this mixed methods study is comprised of 50 semi-structured interviews with Icelandic politicians and journalists, and survey answers from a representative questionnaire (N= 1,264). In filling these research gaps, the Icelandic case is used to expand existing paradigms. Iceland has been routinely ignored in the comparative political communication literature, and the same goes for other small states. The thesis illustrates how qualitative differences between small and large states open up new areas of investigation.

The findings demonstrate that the Icelandic legacy media is perceived to be breaking down and routinely bypassed in political dissemination. The smallness of the Icelandic society means that there is much more direct interaction between politicians, journalists and the public than in larger states. This happens in informal settings offline, as well as online, particularly on Facebook. In order to study these online forms of communication, I show that there is a need to probe the more private avenues, in addition to the public arena. I introduce the concept of a ‘two-level online sphere’ in relation to this. The thesis contributes to theory building by constructing frameworks based on four dimensions of ‘scaled down’ political communication dynamics: 1) offline network density, 2) online network density, 3) mobile multifunctionality, and 4) flexible autonomy. In addition, I show that the Icelandic case can be seen as a ‘canary in the coalmine’ in relation to political communication developments in the larger democracies of the world.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Political Communication; Democracy; Small States; Media; Social Media; Social Networking Sites; Digital Communication; Online; Facebook; Facebook Messenger; Journalism; Journalists; Politics; Politicians; Media Sociology; Public Sphere; Iceland

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 July 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2019 11:37

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)