Communicative Figurations of interpersonal publicness

Dynamics of relationship and communication networks

Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Thomas Friemel

Project Assistant: Matthias Bixler

Since the seminal studies of Lazarsfeld and colleagues in the 1940s research on opinion leadership is focusing on the intersection of mass communication and interpersonal communication. Hereby, media use is understood as social behaviour by the means that individual media use is not taking place in a social vacuum. People are embedded in social networks, social norms, and peer groups. In recent years these social networks became more apparent due to electronic media. Foremost by internet applications like social networking platforms and messaging services. Interpersonal communication became more public, faster and with a global reach, which lead to a qualitative and quantitative change of this kind of media related interpersonal communication. It can be assumed that the dynamics of social networks are faster and larger in scope nowadays compared to a few years ago.

Communication networks consist of different communication roles whereby opinion leaders are of primary interest ever since. The concept of a two-step flow model of communication conceptualizes opinion leaders as gate keepers which control the flow of media content to a wider audience (at least partially). The research project on Communication Networks and Communication Roles extends the analysis to include also other communication roles. It will be analysed how opinion leadership has changed in our mediatized society. Which kind of network dynamics can be found at the intersection of mass media and interpersonal communication? Have functions of interpersonal communication about mass media content changed? Did opinion leaders become obsolete due to new communicative figurations? Or did their influence even increase? Beside these substantial research questions the project will also address issues of methodological innovations in communication research and social network analysis.

Research Field: Relationships


Friemel, Thomas N. (2015): Influence vs. Selection: A Network Perspective on Opinion Leadership. In: International Journal of Communication 9, 1002-1022.

Friemel, Thomas N. (2014): The digital divide has grown old: Determinants of a digital divide among seniors. In: New Media & Society, June 12, 2014, doi: 10.1177/1461444814538648 .

Ruggieri, S./Friemel, T. N./Sticca, F./Perren, S./Alsaker, F. (2013): Selection and influence effects in defending a victim of bullying: The moderating effects of school context. In: Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 79, S. 117-126.


Bixler, Matthias (2016): Media use in social structures – A longitudinal multi-network approach on adolescents' TV and youtube use. Presentation at the European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN), Paris, 14.-17. June 2016.

Friemel, Thomas N./Bixler, Matthias (2016): Network Dynamics of Adolescents Media Use. Paper-Presentation at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Fukuoka, Japan, 9.-13. June 2016.

Bixler, Matthias/Friemel, Thomas N. (2016): Soziale Netzwerke der Mediennutzung Jugendlicher – Selektion und Beeinflussung in der Auswahl von TV-Sendungen und YouTube-Kanälen. Presentation at the Annual Conference of the German Communicaiton Association (DGPuK), Leipzig, 30. March - 1. April 2016.

Bixler, Matthias (2016): Multi-Network Dynamics among Adolescents – The Interplay of Media Use, Communication, Friendship and Social Support. Paper-Presentation at the Advanced SIENA Users Meeting (AdSUM), Zürich, 19.-20. February 2016.

Friemel, Thomas N./Bixler, Matthias (2016): Network Dynamics of Adolescents YouTube Use. Presentation at the Annual Conference 2016 of the subject group „Rezeptions- und Wirkungsforschung“ in the DGPuK, Amsterdam (NL), 28.-30. January.

Friemel, Thomas N./Dötsch, Mareike (2015): Effects of co-viewing and social interactions on TV reception. Presentation at the 9th Conference of the DGPs Media Psychology Division, University of Tübingen, 9.-11. September.

Friemel, Thomas N. (2015): Ko-Orientierung in Social-TV-Chats. Workshop zu „Ko-Orientierung in der Medienrezeption: Praktiken der Second-Screen Nutzung“, Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, 12.-13. June 2015.

Friemel, Thomas N./Bixler, Matthias (2015): Factors influencing biases in cognitive social structures. International Sunbelt Social Network Conference, Brighton (UK), 23.-28. June.

Bixler, Matthias/Friemel, Thomas N. (2015): Bullying and Cyberbullying in Adolescent Social Networks – The Effect of Victimization on Friendship Nominations. International Sunbelt Social Network Conference, Brighton (UK), 23.-28. June.

Friemel, Thomas N./Kubitschko, Sebastian (2015): Ethical standards for online data. Presentation at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), San Juan, Puerto Rico, 21.-25. May 2015.

Fretwurst, Benjamin/Plotkowiak, Thomas/Friemel, Thomas N. (2015): Nutzung von Social-TV-Angeboten on- und offline. Presentation at the Annual Conference of the Swiss Society for Communication and Media Studies (SGKM), Bern, 13.-14. March.

Friemel, T.N. (2014): „Potential und Herausforderung der akteursorientierten Modellierung für Kommunikationsnetzwerke“. Annual Conference 2014 of the subject group „Methoden“ in the German Communication Association (DGPuK), 09.-11. October 2014, Munich.

Friemel, T.N. (2014): “Homophily in TV related conversation networks. Application of stochastic actor oriented models to one-mode and two-mode networks”. European Conference on Social Networks, 1.-4. July 2014, Barcelona.

Friemel, T.N./Plotkowiak, T./Fretwurst, B. (2014): „Social TV: Neue Kommunikationsformen, neue Öffentlichkeit?“ Annual Conference of the German Communication Association (DGPuK), 29./30. May 2014, Passau.

Friemel, T.N./Bixler, M. (2014): „Sportmediennutzung und Anschlusskommunikation“. Tagung „Die WM 2014 in Brasilien im Blickfeld der kommunikations- und politikwissenschaftlichen Forschung“, Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln, 16. May 2014, Köln.

Plotkowiak, T./Friemel, T.N. (2014): „Akteurs-basierte Modellierung eines Social-TV Netzwerks“. Annual Conference of the Swiss Society for Communication and Media Studies (SGKM), Zürich.