Illustrasjonsbilde Media Poverty
Illustration: Robin Warroll/Unsplash

Media Poverty: Media use and citizenship in conditions of deprivation

What we do

Media Poverty examines how conditions of poverty affect people’s possibilities to enact informed and active citizenship through their use of the media.

This project will study media use in condtions of poverty through a multi-method, comparative design, using Norway as critical case. Media Poverty is organised in four work packages. In the first, we statistically map media use patterns among poor citizens. In the second, we examine qualitiatively how media use is embedded in everyday conditions of poverty, and how these conditions afford public (dis)connection. In the third, we test causal relationships between access to news and electoral participation among disconnected citizens, through a nationwide field experiment. In the last work package, we develop and recommend policy measures that target the real-life barriers of citizens living in poverty.

Why is this important?

The media is a binding force between citizens and the world beyond their private sphere. Thus, people’s use of the media is a precondition for the enactment of informed and active citizenship. At the same time, poverty is systematically linked to disconnection from the public and political world, and to low political participation. For citizens who live in conditions of poverty, the consequences are crippled possibilities for civic agency and the reinforcement of marginalisation. For democracy, the civic withdrawal of this group challenges its legitimacy. We now lack knowledge about how conditions of poverty impact people’s use of the media. Policymaking stops short at measures of access to news, failing to address the real-life conditions of poverty. In consequence, we have a weak understanding of the problem at hand and insufficient strategies to promote active citizenship to all.


The objectives of Media Poverty are to renew our understanding of how poverty affects the civic uses of media, to challenge the current paradigm of access, and to equip policymakers with better knowledge to address poverty-stricken citizens.


  • Torgeir Uberg Nærland (Project manager), NORCE
  • Hilde Danielsen, NORCE
  • Ivar Eimhjellen, NORCE
  • Dag Arne Christensen, NORCE
  • Brita Ytre-Arne, University of Bergen
  • Johannes Bergh, Institute for Social Research

International advisory board:

  • Ranjana Das, University of Surrey
  • Nick Couldry, London School og Economics and Political Science
  • Robert Walker, University of Oxford / Beijing Normal University