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Media Personalisation in Context: A Cross-National Comparison between the UK and the Netherlands, 1992–2007

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Abstract

The phenomenon of (media) personalisation has generated a considerable amount of scholarly attention and is regarded as being a significant aspect of contemporary politics and political communication. To investigate long-term trends in personalisation, this study draws on a unique data set that is composed of Dutch and British newspaper articles from a sixteen-year period. The evidence suggests that personalisation is present in both countries, but its realisation differs in each country: where the UK is characterised by a concentration of attention towards the prominent offices and the Prime Minister, the Netherlands has seen an increased visibility of the ‘non-prominent’ Cabinet members. The second part of the study investigates the impact of various events on the visibility levels of the most prominent ministerial functions, with particular attention paid to the Prime Minister. Leaders appear not to be more in the foreground during national crises. Finally, the explanatory power of events for determining the visibility of Cabinet members does not seem to increase in importance over time.

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