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Facket i det medialiserade samhället : En studie av LO:s och medlemsförbundens tillämpning av news management

by Enbom, Jesper

Abstract (Summary)

According to most ways of measuring it the Swedish trade union movement is the strongest in the world. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation is the largest and most influential union confederation by far. Since the 1980s though, Sweden experienced a shift in the power relations between employers and unions in favour of the former. This has coincided with a growing importance for political communication, public relations and the mass media. This development has presented the Swedish trade union movement with a multitude of challenges. One of the major ones is how to influence the representations of trade unions and their viewpoints in the news media.

The purpose of this study is to describe and try to explain how the Swedish Trade Union Confederation and its affiliated unions act to confront the “medialisation” of the public debate.

A combination of research methods are used in this study in order to investigate both the historical development of trade union news management and the use of news management by trade union personnel in their everyday work. The study of how news management historically became a part in the overall union activity was performed through qualitative analysis of archive material. The study of the everyday uses of news management and the factors constraining this work builds upon interviews with the press officers of the TUC affiliated unions and the TUC itself.

The study shows how both the historical development and the everyday use of news management by the Swedish trade union movement need to be understood in a context. This context contains political, economical, ideological and organisational structures that at the same time enables and constrains the adaption of news management. The study points towards five central paradoxes which faces the trade unions when they seek desired media attention and try to avoid unwanted publicity. The first paradox concerns how to fight hard in the interest of the members, while at the same time avoid being described as a sectional interest. The second paradox stems from the desire of the trade unions to be perceived as big and strong and how this might result in the labelling of them as ‘Goliath’ during a conflict. The next paradox concerns how trade unions want to show the importance of the work done by their members during a conflict and the way this might lead to media attention about how the strike affects ‘innocent bystanders’. The fourth paradoxes come from the wish of the trade unions to make their local representatives visible in mass media. This could result in unwanted publicity, due to the difference between blue-collar trade unionists and middleclass journalists. The fifth paradox stems from the importance of acting quickly to achieve wanted media attention and to avoid unwanted. The paradox is that it might be hard to be fast and at the same time have a thorough democratic process on a controversial issue.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Other social sciences; Media and communication studies; Trade unions; mass communication; news sources; news management; source strategies; political communication; labour relations; medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap; medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap

ISBN:978-91-7264-811-1

Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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