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The Media and the Crisis of Democracy

Rethinking Aesthetic Politics

Jaeho Kang

This essay reassesses the German-Jewish social and cultural critic, Walter Benjamin's famous, yet widely misunderstood thesis of the aestheticisation of politics with reference to the development of the mass media and the crisis of democracy. I argue that his thesis of the aestheticisation of politics represents the focal point of his account of both the crisis of liberal democracy as a deliberative and representative political system and the emergence of fascism as a form of direct political communication between a political power and the public. My examination of Benjamin's analysis of the interplay between fascist politics and the mass media leads to a wider critical consideration of the function of political spectacle in the media age. In so doing, I seek to draw out its theoretical relevance for our critical understanding of the linkage between new media and democracy, be it 'new' or 'old' democracy.

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Les Ambivalences de la Rationalisation

À propos du rôle joué par les médias dans la présidentielle 2012

Eric Lagneau and Cyril Lemieux

By comparison with 2002 and 2007, does the 2012 presidential election reveal significant changes in French media functioning and their relations with the political sphere? To answer this question, this article challenges four statements heard during the campaign. They deal with the contribution of the media to François Hollande's victory, the way journalists reported on the campaign, the role played by the polls and finally, the candidates' strategies in media agenda setting. Even if the features traditionally ascribed to the French media (social proximity between journalists and politicians, importance of state regulation and public service, orientation toward the intellectual viewpoint in the patterns of media coverage) have not completely vanished, they describe reality less and less. Indeed, as shown in the article, both the media and the political sphere are today subjected to a converging process of rationalization that transforms their practices and mutual relations.

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Where Is the Public Sphere?

Political Communications and the Morality of Disclosure in Rural Rajasthan

Anastasia Piliavsky

The public sphere has been centre stage in celebrations of India's political triumphs. Leading commentators tell us that the astonishing post-independence surge of democracy has been contingent on the rise of a new kind of sociopolitical formation: the public sphere. This article takes a closer look at the popular deliberative terrain in North India to question this claim. Drawing on research conducted in a provincial town in the North Indian state of Rajasthan, we see that where metropolitan political theorists see 'transparency' as promoting discursive and political possibilities, Rajasthani villagers see an exposure which prevents expression, communication and the making of political choices. In their view, it is secrecy and social seclusion that enable political interactions and elicit political judgments. 'The public sphere' is an unfit heuristic for locating popular politics within (and beyond) Rajasthan, where it obscures much more than it reveals.

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Anja Kruke

From the beginning of the West German state, a lot of public opinion polling was done on the German question. The findings have been scrutinized carefully from the 1950s onward, but polls have always been taken at face value, as a mirror of society. In this analysis, polls are treated rather as an observation technique of empirical social research that composes a certain image of society and its public opinion. The entanglement of domestic and international politics is analyzed with respect to the use of surveys that were done around the two topics of Western integration and reunification that pinpoint the “functional entanglement” of domestic and international politics. The net of polling questions spun around these two terms constituted a complex setting for political actors. During the 1950s, surveys probed and ranked the fears and anxieties that characterized West Germans and helped to construct a certain kind of atmosphere that can be described as “Cold War angst.” These findings were taken as the basis for dealing with the dilemma of Germany caught between reunification and Western integration. The data and interpretations were converted into “security” as the overarching frame for international and domestic politics by the conservative government that lasted until the early 1960s.

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Times of Democracy

The Unavoidable Democracy of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Denmark

Anne Engelst Nørgaard

applied by Willibald Steinmetz in Das Sagbare und das Machbare to one of nine different types of propositions detectable in political communication. 21 References to impersonal agents are, as the term suggests, references to agency, which cannot be

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Maria Ferretti and Enzo Rossi

Agonist theorists have argued against deliberative democrats that democratic institutions should not seek to establish a rational consensus, but rather allow political disagreements to be expressed in an adversarial form. But democratic agonism is not antagonism: some restriction of the plurality of admissible expressions is not incompatible with a legitimate public sphere. However, is it generally possible to grant this distinction between antagonism and agonism without accepting normative standards in public discourse that saliently resemble those advocated by (some) deliberative democrats? In this paper we provide an analysis of one important aspect of political communication, the use of slippery-slope arguments, and show that the fact of pluralism weakens the agonists' case for contestation as a sufficient ingredient for appropriately democratic public discourse. We illustrate that contention by identifying two specific kinds of what we call pluralism slippery slopes, that is, mechanisms whereby pluralism reinforces the efficacy of slippery-slope arguments.

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Frédéric Viguier

pioneering political scientists Alan Gerber and Donald Green, who for almost twenty years have studied the efficacy of electoral campaign techniques, political communication strategies, message content, and message bearers. 5 The added electoral value of

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Peter Hervik

the world and have been supported by the professionalization of the political communication machine. As such, the issue of something being good or bad, acceptable or not, right or wrong, has become a dominant feature of modern news coverage and

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Mixed Message Media

Girls’ Voices and Civic Engagement in Student Journalism

Piotr S. Bobkowski and Genelle I. Belmas

. New York : Schocken Books . Östman , Johan . 2013 . “ When Private Talk Becomes Public Political Expression: Examining a Practice-Field Hypothesis of Youth Political Development .” Political Communication 30 , no. 4 : 602 – 619 . doi:10

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Radical Right-Wing Populists in Parliament

Examining the Alternative for Germany in European Context

Lars Rensmann

the AfD extends the process of political polarization to parliamentary politics. With its radical provocations, the AfD affects, so it seems, the dynamics of inter-party politics and political communication patterns in the Bundestag as a whole. 103