Mass Media and the Generation of Conflict

From the 1950s to 1970s the West German public sphere underwent a rapid politicisation which was part of the ongoing socio-cultural democratisation of the Federal Republic. This article examines the role of the mass media and journalistic elites in bringing about this change. It analyses how and when political coverage in the media evolved from an instrument of consensus to a forum of conflict. Arguing that generational shifts in journalism were crucial to this process, two generations, termed the ‘45ers’ and the ‘68ers’, are described in regard to their professional ethos and their attitudes toward democracy, mass culture, German traditions and Western models.

Christina von Hodenberg is Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London. She has taught at Berkeley and Freiburg and received a Humboldt Research Award in 2014. Her previous books include Konsens und Krise: Eine Geschichte der westdeutschen Medienöffentlichkeit, 1945 bis 1973 (Wallstein 2006) and Wo ‘1968’ liegt: Reform und Revolte in der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik (co-edited with Detlef Siegfried, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2006).

Image courtesy of the interviewee


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