Pol Comm 2 Rep


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A discussion of the role of communication in supporting the representative nature of western democracies. Second lecture for final year students on the Political Communication option in Bournemouth University

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Pol Comm 2 Rep

  1. 1. Political Communication and Representation Lecture 2
  2. 2. the nature of communication <ul><li>From politicians to society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a form of democratic education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>informing us so we can form attitudes/opinions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A social rhetoric </li></ul><ul><ul><li>founded on codes and language we collectively understand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>should facilitate participation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interactive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All are represented and able to participate </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. What is Representation <ul><li>Delegative versus Representational </li></ul><ul><li>Being given voice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wider than electing an MP </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sources of representations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MPs/Parties, pressure groups/lobbyists, media, celebrities </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Perspectives of Representation <ul><li>Actual – they do what we want them to and tell us about how they are doing </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic – they feel the same as us and so do what we would </li></ul><ul><li>Rhetorical – they claim similarity and empathy </li></ul>
  5. 5. Representation and communication <ul><li>Democracy = people power </li></ul><ul><li>We elect or appoint or allow people to work on our behalf </li></ul><ul><li>Communication with representative should be circular? </li></ul><ul><li>But is it really, can it work….. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The influence of Marx SUPERSTRUCTURE BASE
  7. 7. The influence of Marx SUPERSTRUCTURE BASE But aren’t these all really the same people?
  8. 8. The Frankfurt School Perspective <ul><li>Political communication is top-down </li></ul><ul><li>Hegemony creates a false consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>More about social control than representation </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Birmingham School perspective <ul><li>Political/economic dominance of those with power </li></ul><ul><li>Media impartial but ‘political-economy’ powerful </li></ul><ul><li>Option of ‘oppositionalism’ / Differential decoding </li></ul>
  10. 10. Fresh thinking on the media <ul><li>Commercialisation / Market-orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of impartiality/weakened hegemony </li></ul><ul><ul><li>play to the market, populism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lowest common denominators </li></ul><ul><ul><li>dumbing down </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coding of the message reduces abilities to adopt oppositional or differential readings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>agenda setting and framing </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Postmodernity <ul><li>Culture and politics is shifting and individual </li></ul><ul><li>Commodification of society, culture and life </li></ul><ul><li>Emotionalisation/Femininisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The rise of Obama </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pick-and-Mix mentality </li></ul><ul><li>An emerging participatory culture </li></ul>
  12. 12. Postmodern Mass Communication <ul><li>To the individual </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to each aspect of their personalities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>building upon their interests </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Difficult to manipulate, must interact </li></ul><ul><li>Where does politics fit? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social conscience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protection of individual - Me Me Me!!! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But how much is propaganda? </li></ul>
  13. 13. What is propaganda? <ul><li>Persuasive communication (Edelstein, 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Information presented in order to control thinking (Cunningham, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Communication with a goal (Therkelsen & Fiebich, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Communication designed to make the audience volunteer to act in a desired way (Traverse-Healey, 1998) </li></ul>
  14. 14. propaganda’s function <ul><li>‘ social training’ (Dahl, 1956) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ democratic education’ (Scammell, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ communication that makes the audience act in a way beneficial to the communicator’ (Jowett & O’Donnell, 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ to make an audience change their opinions without question’ (Bartlett, 1940) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Democracy <ul><li>A political system based upon equality and freedom. Where the public are free from coercion and fear, and are protected from agents that would harm them. </li></ul><ul><li>But propaganda is coercion </li></ul><ul><li>So democratic politicians never use propaganda? </li></ul>
  16. 16. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in every country Hermann Goering, interview in his cell, Nuremberg, 1945
  17. 17. Representation v Propaganda <ul><li>If everyone uses propaganda loudly enough is there a problem? </li></ul><ul><li>But propaganda stifles debate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teleological argumentation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is it ok if we agree with the message? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the effect on participation? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Thinking for the seminar <ul><li>Who represents you publicly on issues you really care about? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they represent you? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Actual/symbolic/rhetorical </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To what extent is the communication to you propaganda in style or nature? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the impact on democracy? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What sort of society do we live in? </li></ul></ul>