Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 22, 2019

Social bureaucracy? The integration of social media into government communication

  • Tine Ustad Figenschou
From the journal Communications


Inspired by an institutional logics approach, this article analyzes the barriers to and drivers of the integration of social media in the communication practices in Norwegian ministries. Drawing on rich ethnographic data, the paper analyzes the process of integrating social media logic into government communication units that were largely organized through a news media regime. To understand the process, it emphasizes four dimensions: how the symbolic resources, material resources, formal rules and practices have defined the logics of government communication in the period studied (May 2015–May 2016). The analysis meets the call for more empirical investigation into the interplay between the traditional news logics and new digital logics.


The study is part of the Media impact in the public service sector project financed by the Norwegian research Council (project number: (237014).


Altheide, D. L. (2004). Media logic and political communication. Political Communication, 21(3), 293–296.10.1080/10584600490481307Search in Google Scholar

Altheide, D. L., & Snow, R. (1979). Media logic. London, UK: SAGE.10.1002/9781118541555.wbiepc088Search in Google Scholar

Asp, K. (2014). News media logic in a new institutional perspective. Journalism Studies, 15(3), 256–270.10.1080/1461670X.2014.889456Search in Google Scholar

Bertot, J. C., Jaeger, P. T., & Hansen, D. (2012). The impact of polices on government social media usage: Issues, challenges, and recommendations. Government Information Quarterly, 29(1), 30–40.10.1016/j.giq.2011.04.004Search in Google Scholar

Brants, K., & van Praag, P. (2017). Beyond media logic. Journalism Studies, 18(4), 395–408.10.1080/1461670X.2015.1065200Search in Google Scholar

Brekke J-P., & Thorbjørnsrud, T. (2018). Communicating borders – Governments deterring asylum seekers through social media campaigns. Migration Studies (online first April 30, 2018).10.1093/migration/mny027Search in Google Scholar

Chadwick, A. (2013). The hybrid media system: Politics and power. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759477.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Christensen, T. (2005). The Norwegian state transformed. West European Politics, 29(1), 1–20.10.1080/01402380500216641Search in Google Scholar

Coleman, S., & Firmstone J. (2014). Contested meanings of public engagement: Exploring discourse and practice within a British city council. Media, Culture & Society, 36(6), 826–844.10.1177/0163443714536074Search in Google Scholar

Cook, T. E. (1998). Governing with the news: The news media as a political institution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

D’heer, E. (2018). Media logic revisited. The concept of social media logic as alternative framework to study politicians’ usage of social media during election times. In C. Thimm, M. Anastasiadis & J. Einspänner-Pflock (Eds.), Media logic(s) revisited (pp. 133–156). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1007/978-3-319-65756-1_9Search in Google Scholar

Esser, F. (2013). Mediatization as a challenge: Media logic versus political logic. In H. Kriesi, S. Lavenex, F. Esser, J. Matthes, M. Bühlmann & D. Bochsler (Eds.), Democracy in the age of globalization and mediatization (pp. 155–176). Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.10.1057/9781137299871_7Search in Google Scholar

Figenschou, T. U., Karlsen, R., Kolltveit, K. & Thorbjørnsrud, K. (2017). Serving the Media Ministers: A Mixed Methods Study on the Personalization of Ministerial Communication. International Journal of Press/Politics 22(4), 411–430.10.1177/1940161217720772Search in Google Scholar

Figenschou, T. U. & Thorbjørnsrud, K. (2015). Backstage media-political elite negotiations: The failures and success of Government pitch. International Journal of Communication, 9(2015), 1947–1965Search in Google Scholar

Finnemann, N. O. (2011). Mediatization theory and digital media. Communications, 36, 67–89.10.1515/comm.2011.004Search in Google Scholar

Fredriksson, M., & Pallas, J. (2016). Characteristics of public sectors and their consequences for strategic communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 10(3), 149–152.10.1080/1553118X.2016.1176572Search in Google Scholar

Garland, R., Tambini, D., & Couldry, N. (2017). Has government been mediatized? A UK perspective. Media, Culture & Society, 40(4), 496–513.10.1177/0163443717713261Search in Google Scholar

Hjarvard, S. (2014). Mediatization and cultural and social change: An institutional perspective. In K. Lundby (Ed.), Mediatization of communication (pp. 199–226). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.10.1515/9783110272215.199Search in Google Scholar

Hjarvard, S. (2018). The logics of the media and the mediatized conditions of social interaction. In C. Thimm, M. Anastasiadis & J. Einspänner-Pflock (Eds.), Media logic(s) revisited (pp. 63–84). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1007/978-3-319-65756-1_4Search in Google Scholar

Karidi, M. (2018). New media on the move? Journalism Studies, 19(9), 1237–1256.10.1080/1461670X.2016.1266281Search in Google Scholar

Kettle, D. F. (2008). Public bureaucracies. In R. A. W. Rhodes, S. A. Binder & B. A. Rockamn (Eds.), Political institutions (pp. 366–385). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199548460.003.0019Search in Google Scholar

Khan, G. F., Swar, B., & Lee, S. K. (2014). Social media risks and benefits: A public sector perspective. Social Science Computer Review, 32(5), 606–627.10.1177/0894439314524701Search in Google Scholar

Klinger, U., & Svensson, J. (2015). The emergence of network media logic in political communication: A theoretical approach. New Media & Society, 17(8), 1241–1257.10.1177/1461444814522952Search in Google Scholar

Klinger, U., & Svensson, J. (2016). Network media logic: Some conceptual considerations. In A. Bruns, G. Enli, E. Skogerbø, O. A. Larsson & C. Christensen (Eds.), The Routledge companion to social media and politics (pp. 23–38). New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Kunelius, R., & Reunanen, E. (2012). Media in political power: A Parsonian view on the differentiated mediatization of Finnish decision makers. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 17(1), 56–75.10.1177/1940161211424207Search in Google Scholar

Landerer, N. (2013). Rethinking the logics: A conceptual framework for the mediatization of politics. Communication Theory, 23, 239–258.10.1111/comt.12013Search in Google Scholar

Laursen, B., & Valentini, C. (2014). Mediatization and government communication: Press work in the European Parliament. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 20(1), 26–44.10.1177/1940161214556513Search in Google Scholar

Lundby, K. (2009). Introduction: Mediatization as key. In K. Lundby (Ed.), Mediatization – concept, changes, consequences (pp. 1–18). New York, NY: Peter Lang.Search in Google Scholar

March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. 2006. The logic of approriateness. In M. Moran, M. Rein, & R. E. Goodin (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of public policy (pp. 689–704). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Mergel, I. (2013). A framework for interpreting social media interactions in the public sector. Government Information Quarterly, 30(4), 327–334.10.1016/j.giq.2013.05.015Search in Google Scholar

Mulgan, R. (2007). Truth in government and the politicization of public service advice. Public Administration, 85(3), 569–586.10.1111/j.1467-9299.2007.00663.xSearch in Google Scholar

Olsson, E.-K., & Eriksson, M. (2016). The logic of public organizations’ social media use: Toward a theory of ‘social mediatization’. Public Relations Inquiry, 5(2), 187–204.10.1177/2046147X16654454Search in Google Scholar

O’Malley, E. (2007). The power of prime ministers: Results of an expert survey. International Political Science Review, 28(1), 7–27.10.1177/0192512107070398Search in Google Scholar

Pallas, J., Fredriksson, M., & Wedlin, L. (2016). Translating institutional logics: When the media logic meets professions. Organizational Studies, 37(11), 1661–1684.10.1177/0170840616655485Search in Google Scholar

Sanders, K., & Canel, M. J. (2013). Government communication in 15 countries: Cases and challenges. In K. Sanders & M. J. Canel (Eds.), Government communication: Cases and challenges (pp. 277–313). London, UK: Bloomsbury.10.5040/ in Google Scholar

Schillemans, T. (2012). Mediatization of public services: How organizations adapt to news media. Frankfurt, Germany: Lang.Search in Google Scholar

Thimm, C., Anastasiadis, M., & Einspänner-Pflock, J. (2018). Media logic or media logics? An introduction to the field. In C. Thimm, M. Anastasiadis & J. Einspänner-Pflock (Eds.), Media logic(s) revisited (pp. 1–6). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1007/978-3-319-65756-1_1Search in Google Scholar

Thorbjørnsrud, K. (2015). Mediatization of public bureaucracies: Administrative versus political loyalty. Scandinavian Political Studies, 38, 179–197.10.1111/1467-9477.12041Search in Google Scholar

Thorbjørnsrud, K., Figenschou, T. U., & Ihlen, Ø. (2014). Mediatization in public bureaucracies: A typology. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 39(1), 3–22.10.1515/commun-2014-0002Search in Google Scholar

Thornton, P. H., Ocasio, W., & Lounsbury, M. (2012). The institutional logics perspective. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601936.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

van Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding social media logic. Media and Communication, 1(1), 2–14.10.17645/mac.v1i1.70Search in Google Scholar

Waller, L., & McCallum, K. (2017). The dimension of mediated policy-making in Australian indigenous affairs. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 42(2), 173–193.Search in Google Scholar

Policy documents

Official guidelines

Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration and Reform (2009). Central Government

Communication Policy. Oslo: Ministry of Government Administration and Reform.

Norwegian Ministry of Modernization (2005). Ethical Guidelines for the Public Service. Oslo: Ministry of Modernization.

Internal documents

Norwegian government cross-ministerial trial project for digital channels (DigIt) (2015) Mandate

Norwegian government cross-ministerial trial project for digital channels (DigIt) (2015–6) Working papers 1–7

Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services (2015) Communication Handbook

Published Online: 2019-11-22
Published in Print: 2020-11-18

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 28.11.2023 from
Scroll to top button