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The project researches the users of system-critical alternative media and their usage patterns over time. Alternative media critical of the system are strongly associated with the spread of misinformation, conspiracy myths and populist agitation and the risk of social polarization and even radicalization. However, they can also form important arenas for counter-publicity and legitimate social criticism. The way citizens deal with alternative media offerings and the associated consequences are therefore of great social and political relevance.
The project examines the development of (alternative) media use over time and possible associated transformations. Such transformations relate to the significance and centrality of alternative media in the media repertoire of their users and in their relationship to other media as well as associated communicative acts of connection (e.g. sharing, liking, follow-up communication and networking). The extent to which the use of alternative media goes hand in hand with a departure from traditional public spheres and participation in alternative public spheres and, ultimately, alternative (media) realities will be investigated. To this end, a media repertoire perspective is used to determine how and under what conditions alternative media are used and how the repertoire changes over time.