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Upset with the refugee policy: Exploring the relations between policy malaise, media use, trust in news media, and issue fatigue

  • Dorothee Arlt EMAIL logo , Christina Schumann and Jens Wolling
From the journal Communications


In this paper, we introduce the concept of policy malaise, which refers to citizens’ dissatisfaction with the way political institutions and processes handle specific problems such as the refugee issue in Germany. Based on a representative online panel survey with two waves conducted in 2016 and 2017 (N = 836), we explore the occurrence of policy malaise among the German population and its relation to issue-specific media use, trust in news media, and issue fatigue. First, the results indicate that policy malaise toward the refugee issue is widespread in Germany. Second, we found that media use relates differentially to policy malaise: While high exposure to public broadcasting was negatively associated with policy malaise, we found the opposite for private broadcasting. Third, policy malaise is higher for people who experience issue fatigue and lower for people who trust the news media. Finally, trust in media reinforces the negative and positive relations between media use and policy malaise. Implications concerning the associations between policy malaise and political alienation in its broader sense are discussed.


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Published Online: 2020-04-15
Published in Print: 2020-11-18

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