SemesterFall Semester, 2023
DepartmentMA Program of Political Science, First Year PhD Program of Political Science, First Year MA Program of Political Science, Second Year PhD Program of Political Science, Second Year
Course NameSeminar on Political Communication
Course TypeElective
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule







Bennett, W. L., & Iyengar, S. (2008). A new era of minimal effects? The changing foundations of political communication. Journal of communication58(4), 707-731.

Perloff, M. (2013). Political communication: Politics, press, and public in America. Routledge. Chpater 1

McNair, B. (2017). An introduction to political communication. Routledge. Chapter 1.

What is political communication? How do different forms of media affect politics and vice versa? How can we study social phenomena related to political communication?



Politics-Media Relationship

Street, J. (2010). Mass media, politics and democracy. Macmillan. Chapter 5.

Hadland, A., & Zhang, S. I. (2012). The “paradox of commercialization” and its impact on media-state relations in China and South Africa. Chinese Journal of Communication5(3), 316-335.

Dragomir, Marius. (2018). “Control the money, control the media: How government uses funding to keep media in line.” Journalism 19 (8): 1131–48.

What functions does the press serve in society? How do the press and the state interact with each other? Does commercialization reshape media-state relations?


Normative Perspectives

Christians, C. G., Glasser, T., McQuail, D., Nordenstreng, K., & White,  A. (2010). Normative theories of the media: Journalism in democratic societies. University of Illinois Press. Cha. 2-3

Ogbebor, B. (2020). Media Policy, Democracy and Theories of the Press. In British Media Coverage of the Press Reform Debate (pp. 53-75). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

How “should” the media system be controlled and operated? What is the interrelation between communicative (philosophical) traditions, democratic models, and journalistic roles? 


Media Effects

Potter, W. J. (2012). Media effects. Sage Publications. Chapters 3 and 5.

Scheufele, D. A. (2000). Agenda-setting, priming, and framing revisited: Another look at cognitive effects of political communication. Mass communication & society3(2-3), 297-316.

How does the consumption of media content affect individuals’ beliefs and behaviors? How can we measure media effects? Do media effects vary across individuals?







Brainstorming Session on Term Papers

No assigned readings

Students need to come with a research proposal (2 pages) that specifies the research question(s), a brief review of the literature, and the contributions of this project. Students will take turn sharing their thoughts and receiving feedbacks from the professor and their peers.  


Interpersonal Communication of Politics

Matthes, J., Knoll, J., & von Sikorski, C. (2018). The “spiral of silence” revisited: A meta-analysis on the relationship between perceptions of opinion support and political opinion expression. Communication Research45(1), 3-33.

Matthes, J., Knoll, J., Valenzuela, S., Hopmann, D. N., & Von Sikorski, C. (2019). A meta-analysis of the effects of cross-cutting exposure on political participation. Political Communication36(4), 523-542.

Do daily interpersonal interactions affect people’s political behaviors? If so, how? What does cross-cutting exposure mean? Does cross-cutting exposure always discourage people from taking part in politics?


Mass Media

Groeling, T. (2013). Media bias by the numbers: Challenges and opportunities in the empirical study of partisan news. Annual Review of Political Science16, 129-151.

Puglisi, R., & Snyder Jr, J. M. (2015). Empirical studies of media bias. In Handbook of media economics (Vol. 1, pp. 647-667). North-Holland.

Wolton, S. (2019). Are biased media bad for democracy?. American Journal of Political Science63(3), 548-562.

What is media bias? Does media bias necessarily harm democracies? What are the different ways to measure media bias? Which measurement is most convincing?


Social Media

Gil de Zúñiga, H., Weeks, B., & Ardèvol-Abreu, A. (2017). Effects of the news-finds-me perception in communication: Social media use implications for news seeking and learning about politics. Journal of computer-mediated communication22(3), 105-123.

Muller, D. (2021). A New Press Theory: Democratic Revival. In Journalism and the Future of Democracy (pp. 165-183). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Garrett, R. K. (2017). The “echo chamber” distraction: Disinformation campaigns are the problem, not audience fragmentation. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition6(4), 370-376.

How does the emergence of social media change the way people consume news and information? What does social media impact democracies, either positively or negatively?


Political Elites

Kalla, J. L., & Broockman, D. E. (2018). The minimal persuasive effects of campaign contact in general elections: Evidence from 49 field experiments. American Political Science Review112(1), 148-166.

Haselmayer, M., Meyer, T. M., & Wagner, M. (2019). Fighting for attention: Media coverage of negative campaign messages. Party Politics25(3), 412-423.

Newman, B., Merolla, J. L., Shah, S., Lemi, D. C., Collingwood, L., & Ramakrishnan, S. K. (2021). The trump effect: an experimental investigation of the emboldening effect of racially inflammatory elite communication. British Journal of Political Science51(3), 1138-1159.


How do political messages from elites affect people’s attitudes toward social groups or policy issues? Why do elite politicians frequently appeal to negative campaigning? Do political campaigns effectively affect voters’ candidate choices? 


Social Movements

Benford, R. D., & Snow, D. A. (2000). Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment. Annual review of sociology26(1), 611-639.

Snow, D. A., Vliegenthart, R., & Ketelaars, P. (2018). The framing perspective on social movements: Its conceptual roots and architecture. The Wiley Blackwell companion to social movements. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 392-410.


What does framing mean, and why does it matter? What are the core framing tasks according to Benford and Snow (2000)? How do policy frames change over time?



Workshop on Data and Methods

No assigned readings

Students need to come to class with a proposal that discusses the data and methods they will use in their projects. After their presentation (about 10 minutes), they will have a QA session where comments and questions will be provided.



China and State Censorship

MacKinnon, R. (2011). China's ‘Networked Authoritarianism’. Journal of Democracy Volume, 22(2), 32-46.

King, G., Pan, J., & Roberts, M. E. (2013). How censorship in China allows government criticism but silences collective expression. American political science Review107(2), 326-343.

Lee, S. Y. (2016). Surviving online censorship in China: Three satirical tactics and their impact. The China Quarterly228, 1061-1080.


Do social networking platforms necessarily support liberation and empowerment of the marginalized? What does the Chinese government try to achieve by imposing censorship? To what extent is state censorship “successful” in China?


Framing LGBTQ Rights in Taiwan and the Global North

Zheng, Y., & Chan, L. S. (2020). Framing same-sex marriage in US liberal and conservative newspapers from 2004 to 2016: Changes in issue attributes, organizing themes, and story tones. The Social Science Journal, 1-13.

Dai, S.C. (Working Paper). Describing LGBTQ rights: A longitudinal analysis of

pro- and anti-LGBTQ rights groups’ online messages in Taiwan.


What are the common policy frames proposed by pro- and anti-LGBTQ rights activists? How do policy frames of LGBTQ rights in Taiwan show different features from those observed in the Global North? What are some local framing elements found in the context of Taiwan?



Running as Female Candidates 

Herrnson, P. S., Lay, J. C., & Stokes, A. K. (2003). Women running “as women”: Candidate gender, campaign issues, and voter-targeting strategies. The Journal of Politics65(1), 244-255.

Windett, J. H. (2014). Gendered campaign strategies in US elections. American Politics Research42(4), 628-655.

Cassese, E. C., & Holman, M. R. (2018). Party and gender stereotypes in campaign attacks. Political Behavior40(3), 785-807.


Does gender matter in running for office? What factors result in the persistent gender gap in political ambition? What strategies do female candidates adopt for greater electoral success? 


Social Media and Trump’s Presidency

Wells, C., Shah, D., Lukito, J., Pelled, A., Pevehouse, J. C., & Yang, J. (2020). Trump, Twitter, and news media responsiveness: A media systems approach. New Media & Society22(4), 659-682.

Ross, A. S., & Caldwell, D. (2020). ‘Going negative’: An appraisal analysis of the rhetoric of Donald Trump on Twitter. Language & communication70, 13-27.

Why does former US President Donald Trump rely heavily on Twitter? What are the characteristics of Trump’s messages on social media? What are the political goals he tries to achieve by adopting certain styles of political communication?









Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant

Attendance and Participation (30%)

Blogs (40%)

Final Paper (20%)

Paper Presentation (10%)


Attendance and Participation (30%): Your preparation, presence, and participation are crucial. Please complete the required readings, be on time for each class, bring all relevant readings, and contribute energetically to the class. Your class participation grade will be assessed based on attendance and your contributions to discussions and group activities. Please note that unexcused absences will count heavily against your grade. An absence will be excused only with documentation of medical necessity or with prior approval from the professor.

Blogs (40%): On several weeks, you will interact with fellow group members through an online political blog. Blogs are an opportunity to engage with course material and apply it to real-world politics and political communication. It is also an opportunity for you to engage with your fellow classmates. The blogs are integrated into our learning platform, where you will receive instructions about how to post and what questions to blog about. Only the 8 best blog grades (out of 12) will be counted toward your final grade.

Your task will be to respond to the prompt by writing your own initial post in response to the question by Friday midnight, as well as reply to other students’ posts at least twice by 10 am Monday. You will be graded on your initial post and your replies on a scale from 1-5.

The blog assignment should contain the following:

1. An initial post that addresses the question directly and concisely (300-400 words by Friday midnight or sooner)

2. A minimum of 2 thoughtful, engaging and respectful replies to the posts of fellow group members (your choice of who you respond to); these are typically shorter than the initial post (100-200 words).

3. Initial posts and replies should present clear positions or arguments, supported by fact-based evidence and insights from readings, discussions, news articles and other sources. A great blog post will bring in additional evidence and/or link to reputable online resources to support your post.

Please note that all discourse should be civil and respectful. We encourage thoughtful disagreement, but like all blog posts, you should back up your argument with evidence. No ad-hominem or personal attacks will be tolerated.


Final Paper (20%) and Paper Presentation (10%): At the end of the semester, students need to write a research paper that discusses topics related to political communication. The paper should include: research questions, literature review, data and methods, results, implications and conclusions. The papers should be about 20-25 pages, double-space. Students will present their findings in Weeks 17 and 18.

Textbook & Reference


No assigned textbook for this course since our weekly readings consist of journal articles and book chapters



Wolfsfeld, G. (2022). Making sense of media and politics: Five principles in political communication. Routledge.

Kaye, D. (2019). Speech police: The global struggle to govern the Internet. New York: Columbia Global Reports.

Oliver, M. B., Raney, A. A., & Bryant, J. (Eds.). (2019). Media effects. Routledge.

Ott, B. L., & Dickinson, G. (2019). The Twitter presidency: Donald J. Trump and the politics of white rage. Routledge.

Perloff, M. (2017). The dynamics of political communication. Routledge.

Phillips, Whitney, and Ryan M. Milner. (2017). The ambivalent Internet: Mischief, oddity, and antagonism online. Cambridge, UK?; Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Hayes, Danny, and Lawless, Jennifer L.. (2016). Women on the run: Gender, media, and political campaigns in a polarized era. New York: Cambridge University Press

Johnston, H., & Noakes, J. A. (Eds.). (2005). Frames of protest: Social movements and the framing perspective. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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