Debate Den Uyl and Wiegel on television (Peters, Hans / Anefo, 1977)
Debate Den Uyl and Wiegel on television (Peters, Hans / Anefo, 1977)

Subproject The Voice of the People: Netherlands

1 September 2020 until 31 August 2023
Project member(s)
S.J. Ploeg (Solange) MPhil
Project type

In this subproject of The voice of the people, Solange Ploeg investigates the articulation, mediatisation and construction of expectations of democracy in the Netherlands in the post-war period (1945-1980). The central question is how changes in the media landscape and the emergence of new media practices influenced expectations and perceptions of democracy and political representation. The focus lies on the various communicative practices through which politicians and citizens communicated with each other in the public sphere. 

According to Martin Conway (2020), in post-war Europe, democracy became 'a way of life'. Solange Ploeg examines what this looked like on the ground by focusing on the media diet of Dutch citizens in election time, on how politics was presented to them on a daily basis. In the post-war period, television became an integral part of the public sphere: it was increasingly through television that citizens learned about 'the political'. Communicative practices such as television debates, current affairs shows, political commercials and opinion polls provided a framework within which citizens could access 'the political' at election time.

In addition, Solange Ploeg analyses how new media practices such as opinion polls and television shows provided a platform for interaction between politicians and citizens. Through television discussions or political game shows, for example, expectations about democracy were constantly renegotiated by a wide variety of actors (citizens, media makers, opinion pollsters, politicians and social scientists). Using the CLARIAH MediaSuite and archives of newspapers and broadcasters, Solange Ploeg examines these actors' underlying ways of thinking about political representation and about the role of citizens in democracy that helped articulate these practices. 

In addition, Solange Ploeg pays attention to the intentions and perceptions of the intermediary forces that, with the rise of the new media, gained influence in conceptualising and framing the relationship between citizens and politicians. She studies the various formats, techniques and constructions of experts, journalists, pollsters and broadcasters that helped bring the voices and opinions of ordinary citizens into the public sphere and give them meaning.


  • Fons Meijer en Solange Ploeg, '1945: De Nederlander gepeild', in: Nog meer wereldgeschiedenis van Nederland (Amsterdam 2022) 551-557.
  • Malte Fischer, Solange Ploeg and Harm Kaal, ‘"Now it is our turn to talk": Interaction between citizens and politicians on television in West-Germany and the Netherlands, 1950s-1970s'. Blogpost L.I.S.A. Wissenschaftsportal Gerda Henkel Stiftung, 15 January 2022.
  • Solange Ploeg, ‘De stem van het volk. Percepties en verwachtingen van de democratie in naoorlogs Nederland’, Ex Tempore 40:2 (2021).


  • Gerda Henkel Foundation