Societal politicization of international institutions in longitudinal and cross-sectional perspective


While international authorities are often portrayed to take highly consequential decisions in an insulated manner, recent debates suggest that citizens and a wider set of societal actors become increasingly aware of global governance, form opinions on the involved political choices, and confront international actors with new legitimacy demands.

Sophisticated arguments and pioneering empirical studies on the drivers and effects of this politicization exist, but we still face limits in testing and improving respective hypotheses in a broader comparative fashion. Is politicisation of global governance a linear function of the competences delegated to international institutions and what mediates this relationship? Does politicisation decrease decision-making at the global level and how is the substance of international decisions affected?

Solid empirical answers to such questions require politicization indicators that allow consistent comparisons over time and over international institutions. Starting from preliminary work on the EU, the project operationalises the concept of politicization by de-composing it into public visibility, the polarisation of publicised opinions, and mobilization efforts of civil society actors. Relying pre-dominantly on quantitative text analyses, the resulting time-series are combined into standardized politicisation indices for different supra- and international authorities spanning the period 1982-2013. These data offer theoretically meaningful temporal and cross-sectional comparisons.

The project’s aim is to exploit these indicators as both, dependent and independent variables so as to enhance our empirical knowledge on what drives societal politicisation of international authority and how it affects the solution of transnational conflicts.

Main content

Selected Publications

Rauh, Christian/Parizek, Michal (2024): "Converging on Europe? The European Union in Mediatised Debates during the COVID-19 and Ukraine Shocks". In: Journal of European Public Policy, advance access, 24.04.2024, online:
Zürn, Michael (2022): "How Non-Majoritarian Institutions Make Silent Majorities Vocal. A Political Explanation of Authoritarian Populism". In: Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 20, No. 3, S. 788-807. (vorab online publiziert 26.05.2021)
Rauh, Christian/Zürn, Michael (2019): "Authority, Politicization, and Alternative Justifications. Endogenous Legitimation Dynamics in Global Economic Governance". In: Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 27, No. 3, S. 583-611. (vorab online publiziert 16.08.2019)
Rauh, Christian/de Wilde, Pieter (2018): "The Opposition Deficit in EU Accountability. Evidence from over 20 Years of Plenary Debate in Four Member States". In: European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 57, No. 1, S. 194-216. (vorab online publiziert 20.06.2017)
Rauh, Christian/Bödeker, Sebastian (2016): "Internationale Organisationen in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit. Ein Text Mining-Ansatz". In: Matthias Lemke/Gregor Wiedemann (Hg.): Text Mining in den Sozialwissenschaften. Grundlagen und Anwendungen zwischen qualitativer und quantitativer Diskursanalyse. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 289-314.
Rauh, Christian (2015): "Communicating Supranational Governance? The Salience of EU Affairs in the German Bundestag, 1991–2013". In: European Union Politics, Vol. 16, No. 1, S. 116-138. (Vorab online publiziert 28. September 2014)
Rauh, Christian/Zürn, Michael (2014): "Zur Politisierung der EU in der Krise". In: Martin Heidenreich (Hg.): Krise der europäischen Vergesellschaftung?. Soziologische Perspektiven. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 121-145.