The importance of pictoral representations in the process of political communications is undisputed, but little is known about the standards of media image reporting in the first half of the 20th century. The aim of the proposed research project is therefore identifying empirically supported findings on longer, possibly even decades-spanning developments in this area, in order to arrive at statements about continuities and discontinuities in visual political communication and to characterize the dimensioning of the political in more detail. In the current reporting of that epoch, there are not only important tendencies away from the primacy of the word and towards the intrinsic value of the image, these decades also mark a completely new era in the history of the image: the photographic image became the core element of mass media, especially magazines and film journalism. But even on the comparatively obvious question of the extent and form of the political in the image that was mass distributed by magazines, newspapers and illustrated newspaper supplements in the first half of the 20th century, research has not yet been able to provide any information. The relevance of magazines in particular for the communication of current visual political content cannot be overestimated, because they were almost unrivalled in this respect for several decades. The planned project aims to examine the formation phase of actuality-oriented visual political communication in a cross-system longitudinal section from 1905 to 1945.
The focus is on the comparison of concrete pictorial offers from five different historical phases in two different respects: on the one hand between the three political systems of the constitutional monarchy of the late Empire, the democracy of the Weimar Republic and the totalitarian dictatorship of National Socialism, and on the other hand between the First and Second World War. The question is how the political was visualized in each case and what role it played within visual communication as a whole. Based on the approach of visual framing, a standardized content analysis of about 25,000 images in three magazines from the period 1905 to 1945 will be carried out, which will be covered by a full survey of three issues in spring and autumn of each year. First of all, all images, those with political content in a narrower or broader sense, will be recorded and then subjected to a more in-depth coding, which will not only allow descriptive statements to be made about the use of images over time, but will also allow visual frames to be determined and diversity measures to be determined for the respective epochs.