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British politics content analysis British politics content analysis Presentation Transcript

  • WK21 – BRITISH POLITICS, POLITICALCAMPAIGNING AND CONTENT ANALYSISDr. Carolina MatosGovernment DepartmentUniversity of Essex
  • Reading list for week 21• Required text:• Bartle, J. et al (2013) “Rules, Strategies and Words: the content of the 2010 prime ministerial debates”, paper presented to the Political Studies Association.• Additional:• Butler, David and Dennis Kavanagh (2005) The British General Election of 2005 New York, Palgrave• Campbell, A. and Scott, R. (2007) The Blair years, London: Hutchinson• Lees-Marshment, Jennifer (2001) “Political parties and political marketing: what is it all about?” in Political Marketing and British Political Parties – The Party’s Just Begun, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p. 1-49• Schmitt-Beck, Rudiger and Farrell, David M. (2002) “Studying political campaigns and their effects” in Do Political Campaigns Matter? Campaign Effects in Elections and Referendums, London: Routledge, p. 1-22
  • Key points• Politics and popular culture (i.e. Street, 1997)• The changing nature of politics and its relationship to the media• Political marketing: what is it?• “Modern” political campaigning practices and “Americanization”• “How the media colonise politics” (Meyer, 2002)• Political campaigning practices and British politics• The 2010 prime-ministerial debates and content analysis• Conclusions• Seminar activities and questions
  • Who has more power: the media or politicians?
  • The role of political parties in democracies• Main function of political parties is to provide countries with leaders (Lees- Marshment, 2001)• Wide range of literature on party politics discusses how parties behave ( i.e. Catch all parties (Kirchheimer, 1966)• I.e. Downs (1957) argued that political parties are rational actors that change their behaviour to capture the middle ground• One of the key transformations of the political party has been the strengthening of its leaders• Rise of television and other media technologies means that politicians compete with various leisure activities for the attention of voters• Politicians will compete with each other to gain more voters (i.e. reach out to younger publics). Thus they will start to incorporate entertainment formats to their political platform and/or political persona
  • Politics, branding and the logic of consumption• The brand idea has acquired significant importance over the past 20 years in politics• “Political parties are the ultimate brands” (Burkitt, 2002)• I.e. Bennett (2003, 104), in Branded Political Communications, talked about the re-branding of the Social Democrats-Green coalition in Germany,Clinton’s “re-branding” of the US Democratic Party. New Labour also was re-branded in 1997.• Scammell (2003) argues that there is a mismatch between confident consumers and insecure citizens (i.e. decline of citizenship rationales)• “…consumerism in the sense of a more productive, less collective public policy choice is becoming the cause of the relationship between citizens, representatives and governments in the electoral politics of a number of nations (Scammell, 1995; Blumler and Kavanagh, 1999 in Bennett, 2003).
  • The psychology behind branding and the re-branding of New Labour• Scammell (2003) makes a distinction between commercial and political brands (i.e. Coca Cola)• Some reasons for the rise of the phenomena: 1) economic; 2) growing skepticism about efficacy of advertising ; 3) increasing consumer power• Brands can operates at an emotional level• Gould’s surveys found that the hostility to Blair and Labour was highest among women• Promise, a commercial consultancy specialised in brand building, was hired to design a strategy to reconnect Blair with voters for the 2005 election• Labour brand was undermined by media attacks (i.e. Iraq war). Blair’s image as a “celebrity politician” in decline
  • PR and spin-doctoring in British and American politics• Politics has become a televisual activity; politicians have been transformed into TV performers (Louw, 2005)• “Politics becomes stage managed for largely televisual audiences – scripted by spin-doctors…performed by politicians as performers and represented by journalists who….play the role of celebrities in their own right” (Louw, 144)• I.e. Clinton was seen as a model celebrity politician at ease in front of the cameras with ability to follow scripts• Thatcher was also coached on her TV appearances and adapted her style, including tone of voice and manners, to suit voters wishes
  • Popular culture and politics: the emergence of the celebrity politician• * Street (1997) has argued how politics has become more like popular culture, adapting to its logic:• Core of the critique is that it contributes to the impoverishment of the relationship between the representative and the represented• According to Postman (1987, 4,129), appearance and image have come to dominate politics, so that “we may have reached a point where cosmetics have replaced ideology as the field of expertise over which a politician must have competent control’ (in Street, 439).• Street (2004) argues that there are two types of celebrity politicians: the politicians who become celebrities and the celebrities who engage in political causes and act like politicians• “The politics of character tend to drive out the politics of substance” (Lichtenberg, 1990)
  • Politicians use the media in their struggle over symbolic power• Thompson draws from Bourdieu’s discussion of cultural capital• “…the media become the primary means by which political leaders accumulate symbolic capital in the broader political field. Through the management of visibility and the…presentation of self, political leaders use the media to build up a store of symbolic capital in the eyes of the electorate….”(Thompson, 2000, 105).• Reputation is an aspect of symbolic capital (a politician’s good reputation implies that he is trusted by voters)• However, the media has been seen by many as being more powerful• Meyer (2002) argues that politicians have lost some of their authority and now seek to influence adapting to the logic of the media• The media are perceived as more powerful - they are not the ones who are controlled by political elites; rather, they are controlling them• Shift in political scenario from politicians debating what they want to discussing how to implement what voters want• Concerns: what are the consequences of this new state of things for democracy? Can politicians now really serve the public?
  • Politicians are seen as submitting to the rules of the media (in Meyer, 2002) * Chief perceptions of politics will be what the media choose to portray ontheir stage* Thus the real political process - behind the stage - becomes invisible to thewider public• “From the point when the idea of democracy as popular sovereignty began to attract widespread support, it was inevitable that politics would have to engage the mass media… Thus, in its efforts to cater to the tastes of the mass public, and due to the pressures to stage manage media events, politics itself becomes “politainment or a variant of popular culture” (Meyer, 2002, 53).• Process has culminated in citizens becoming more detached from politics:* “…democratic principles thus guarantee that “information is made availablein participation in decision-making as extensive as possible, but …this sameprocess of colonization makes it difficult for the vast majority….to monitorand influence political events in an informed way”, culminating in ordinarycitizens feeling more detached from politics (Meyer, 2002, 56)
  • Political marketing as a new form of political engagement?* According to Scammell (1999), political marketing covers a multitude ofactivities, including advertising, public relations and any political activityconcerned with image and persuasion* Thus a simple political speech might not be considered political marketing,whereas a rally complete with mood music, balloons and flags.. would be(Scammell, 1999)* Debate centres on the ways in which political marketing can be used bypolitical parties to stimulate more civic engagement and attract wider groups tothe political sphere* Attacks on political marketing seem to imply that a “golden age” of rationalpolitical debate existed once* The disengagement of voters should not be blamed only on the media -changes in political system and rise of educational levels have made voters lesspredictable
  • Political marketing and the democratic process* Political marketing can be understood as the commercialisation of politicsand the extension of the relations of consumption to the political sphere(McNair, 1995)• Criticisms of its impact on the overall quality of the democratic process:* Critics argue that marketing contributed to the decline of ideologicalcommitments of parties. These critiques are somewhat inserted within aHabermasian understanding of the fall of “rational political debate”, or of arational debating public* Critiques of the decline of the quality of leaders - shift towards theirpersonality and character (“just like us”)• “The rational citizen of classic liberal theory has become “a consumer of politics and policies….the competing political parties present electors with different policy options in broadly the same way as firms offer rival products to the consumers’ (Greenaway, 1992, 51 in McNair, 1995; 41).• Rise of political consultants, who become just as important as the leaders that they serve (Scammell, 1995)
  • After all, do political campaigns matters? (David Farrell and Rudiger Schmitt-Beck, 2002)• Political campaigns are a core feature of the political process in contemporary democracies• Bennett (2003) states that we are living in a current about era of “permanent campaigns” (politicians are always campaigning)• Most studies have focused on campaign effects in national contexts (US and UK mainly),but there has been a rise in comparative political campaigning practices in wider discussions of globalization• Comparative studies (i.e. Swanson and Mancini, 1996; Holtz-Bacha, 2004 in Esser and Pfetsch) on the adoption of political campaigning practices around the world have talked about the emphasis on: 1) personalization and celebrity politics; 2) political marketing techniques and 3) “Americanization” or “modernization” of campaign practices• Farrell and Schmitt-Beck (2002) talk about 4 types of political campaigns: 1) elections; 2) referendums; 3) single-issue campaigns or interest-based and 4) image campaigns
  • Political leaders and “modern” political campaigning practices
  • Studies on campaign affects and goals* “The ultimate….goal of campaigns….is political conversion – attractingundecided voters to one’s own fold, or, even more difficult, getting people todecide in ways other than their initial predisposition….” (Lazarsfeld, 1968,1944 in Schmitt-Beck and Farrell, 14).• Problems for democracy of attack and “negative” campaigning:• “…from being exposed to campaign communications, voters may become motivated to follow politics more closely on the news; levels of cynicism may also be connected with certain styles of (negative) campaigning and attacks between political rivals, so that voters may become de-motivated, as has been some of the critiques made in regards to political campaigning in the US (Schmitt-Beck and Farrell, 2002, 15).* Lees-Marshment (2001, 15) shows data on how party membership has fallenfrom both parties (Conservative and Labour)
  • Designer Politics (Scammell, 1995; 2000)* What can be said of political marketing in Britain?1) Marketing is entrenched in the political process2) Does not offer magic solutions for winning elections3) Use of political marketing needs to be closely monitored* Initial reluctance of the Left in adopting political marketing prior to the re-branding of New Labour in 1997:* Political marketing has its limits in its capacity of persuasion* Scammell points out how voters can be influenced by various factors, mainlysocio-economic ones: “…marketing may bring real democratic benefits byimproving two way communications between voters and politicianstheoretically….allowing both parties and voters to be better informed andmake more rational choices” (xv).
  • Decline of party loyalty, fluidity of politics and climate of instability* New social movements also pose a challenge to parties – voters turn to other forms of political participation and not just traditional political parties (rise of lifestyle politics, environment, animal rights welfare, etc• Decline of party loyalty has given rise to electoral volatility – voters are less likely to vote over and over for same party (15)• As Charles Clarke argued, British voters in 2010 did not see enough reason to continue to vote for Labour (in power for 13 years). For the majority of voters are not those who are loyal to either (i.e. Labour or Conservative)• Beyond the criticisms of Gordon Brown’s weakness as a party leader, Labour lost in 2010 because of a lack of vision of the party for its future.• Argues about general difficulties of building a platform for the centre-left for the future• * I.e. the 2010 prime-ministerial debates where shown to be focused more on policy debates than on personality (Bartle et al, 2013)
  • “Rules, Strategies and Words: The Content of the 2010 Prime Ministerial Debates” (Bartle et al, 2013)• Authors have treated the debates as composite of three distinct parts – opening statements, three-way debates and closing statements• “Comparing the leaders’ opening and closing statements with their other contributions allows us to distinguish between the leaders’ “ideal” messages and what they were able to say in their responses to questions. Comparing the changing content of three debates enables us to observe how the leaders adapted their strategies.”• Debates took place among the three main political parties at the BBC, ITN and Sky News• Each debate focused on a specific theme: the first debate produced by ITV focused on “domestic affairs”; the second produced by Sky News focused on “international affairs” and the final debate, produced by BBC, addressed “economic affairs.”• Across the three debates there were a total of 24 questions. There was a dominance of domestic affairs (in total, 14 out of 24 questions).
  • Theme Policy Character LeadershipPast Deed General Goal Future Plan Ideals Ability (PD) (GG) (FP) (ID) (LA) Issue Topic (P*) Acclaim Attack Defence Agreement (P) (A) (D) AG) Against On Cameron With Cameron Cameron (DC) (DC) (DC) On Brown Against Brown With Brown (GB) (GB) (GB) On Clegg Against Clegg With Clegg (NC) (NC) (NC)
  • Hypothesis testing: (1) General trends Themed questions ‘Open’ questionsFirst debate • Immigration (D) • Budget deficit (E) • Law and order (D) • Armed forces equipment (I) • MPs expenses (D) • Healthcare (D) • Education (D) • Care of the elderly (D)Second • Europe (I) • Faith in the political systemdebate • Anti-terrorism (I) (D) • Environment & transport • State pension (D) (I) • National government (D) • Pope’s visit to Britain (I) • Immigration (D)Third debate • Honesty about cuts (E) • Immigration (D) • Taxation (E) • Housing (D) • Banks (E) • Abuse of welfare benefits • Manufacturing industry (D) (E) • Education (D)
  • Party competition and issue ownership (Bartle et al, 2013)• “Theories of party competition focus on how issues structure voters’ decisions. Issues are conventionally divided into position and valence types (Stokes, 1963). Position issues are those that involve agreement about objectives or ends. These are often represented in spatial terms as positions on a dimension anchored by opposing poles, for example, nationalisation versus privatisation. Parties attract voters by locating their policies as closely as possible to the median voter on the issues that matter most (Downs, 1957)”• “Valence issues are those that involve a consensus or near consensus about goals (Stokes, 1963).” (i.e. corruption free government)• Issue ownership theories – “Position and valence models of party competition have increasingly been supplemented by ‘issue ownership theories’ (Budge and Farlie, 1983; Green and Hobolt, 2008). This suggests that different parties are advantaged on different issues and can attract voters by emphasising on these…..”
  • “Rules, Strategies and Words: The Content of the 2010 Prime Ministerial Debates” (Bartle et al, 2013)• Ideology of Labour and the Conservatives:• “National defence and security goals that are central to Conservative ideology (Leach, 2003) and the party has traditionally had an advantage on issues such as immigration and crime. They continued to hold this advantage in 2010. One might expect Cameron to try to emphasis those issues…”• “Equality and full employment are key components of socialist ideology (Leach, 2003), and Labour traditionally has had an advantage on the issue of public services and jobs…..One might still expect Brown to return to jobs when possible”.• Functional theory also suggests that messages will focus either on policy (the problems facing the nation and the proposed measures for addressing them) or character (the personalities and the qualifications of the candidates).• Acclaims, Attacks, Defences and Agreements - Campaign messages can be divided into acclaims (which provide a positive reason for preferring the candidate); attacks (which provide a negative) and defences (which try to rebut attacks made on oneself).
  • Functional theory and hypotheses (Bartle et al, 2013)Hypotheses:H1 – Brown will devote more content to the economy and, H2, unemploymentH3 – Cameron will devote more content to immigration and H4, law and order.H5 – Clegg will devote more content to the environment and H6, politicalreform.H7 – Brown will devote most content to the economy in the opening andclosing statements.H8 – Acclaims will be more frequent than attacks for all leaders.H9 – Attacks will be more frequent than agreements for all leaders.H10 – Defences will be more frequent than agreements for all leaders.H11 – The leaders will discuss policy more than character.Coding:• Themes = smaller unit of discourse capable of expressing a coherent idea• Context unit = used to interpret the theme (not coded)• Functions: Acclaims; attacks; defences; agreements• Topic: policy; character
  • Hypothesis testing: main results (in Bartle et al, 2013) Hypotheses 1-3 Acclaim Attack Defence Agreement1st Debate 60% 27% 12% 2%2nd Debate 50% 36% 11% 3%3rd Debate 52% 38% 8% 2% Total 54% 33% 10% 3%
  • “Rules, Strategies and Words: The Content of the 2010 Prime Ministerial Debates” (Bartle et al, 2013)• Further assumptions that can be made:• H12 – Brown and Cameron will attack each other more than Clegg.• H13 – Brown and Cameron will agree more with Clegg than with each other.• H14 – Brown will be the subject of more attacks than Cameron or Clegg.• H15 – Brown will acclaim past deeds and H16, his leadership abilities more than Cameron or Clegg.• Authors used Hamlet II software package to explore text for the occurrence of words…. Hamlet II codes designated coding units, quasi-sentences delimited by standard punctuation conventions….Each coding unit is examined on the basis of a series of categories…• Researchers analysed separately the three leaders’ contributions to the debates in order to compare their emphases on the various policy areas. The opening and closing statements made by each leader were analysed as well• Fifteen policy categories were identified, representing categories of the three designated themes. Domestic – i.e. education, health, immigration, welfare.
  • “Rules, Strategies and Words: The Content of the 2010 Prime Ministerial Debates” (Bartle et al, 2013)In the second part, the researchers examined the function of content and involved manual coding.Highly structured nature of the debates meant that all content could be coded as an acclaim, attack, defence or agreementThird, each unit was classified depending on whether it focused on policy or character. Policy – past deeds, future plans or general goods; Character – personal qualities, leadership abilities or ideals.Discussion of hypotheses:H4. Brown and Cameron will attack each other more than Clegg• 1st debate: Clegg was the target of only 9 attacks• 2nd debate: Clegg was the target of 43 attacksH6. Brown will be the subject of more attacks than the others• Overall Brown was the target of 262 attacks; Cameron 223 attacks; Clegg 79 attacks• A mere 21% of the questions related to economic affairs, 58% to domestic issues.
  • The first election debate 2010• The First Election Debate – ITV1 15th April 2010• (
  • Conclusions• 1) Political systems have changed in advanced capitalist societies due to globalisation, geographical mobility and increase labour migration – decline of family and community, of party-based politics, etc• 2) Rise in educational levels of the public, increase in sophistication and criticism and decline of class interests (middle and working class has become blurred)• 3) Voters less faithful, less disposed to vote ideologically and more pragmatically• 4) Shift of concern from parties away from political debate to present voters with what they want (i.e. Party delivery of product)• 5) Submission of politicians to the media’s logic?, or a vicious circle of cooperation and conflict (i.e. the political media complex model) between the media and politicians?
  • Seminar activities• 1) In what way has politics changed today and what is the nature of its relationship with the media? Why are politicians seen as “celebrities”?• 2) What are some of the critiques made regarding the adoption of political marketing practices by political parties? What is the implied consequence for democratic politics?• 3) What are some of the “modern” campaign practices that have began to be adopted throughout the world? Why do some see this as being a form of “Americanization” of politics?• 4) According to Bartle et al (2013), the 2010 prime-ministerial debates in the UK were seen as having focused more on policy and not on personality. What were some observations made regarding the debates?• 5) Discuss the methods used in the Bartle et al (2013) text. What were the hypotheses? Where they confirmed or not? How was the coding conducted?
  • Readings for week 22Required texts:• Allan, S. (2004) “The culture of distance: Online reporting of the Iraq war” in B. Zelizer and S. Allan, (Eds.) Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime, pp 347-366. NY: Routledge• Keeble, R. (2004) “Information warfare in an age of hypermilitarism” in S. Allan and B. Zelizer, Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime, pp 43-58. London: Routeledge.• Robinson, P. (2004) “Researching US media-state relations and twentyfirst- century wars” in S. Allan and B. Zelizer, Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime, pp 96-112. London: Routeledge.• Tumber, H. (2004) “Prisoners of news values? Journalists, professionalism, and identification in times of war” in S. Allan and B Zelizer, (Eds.). Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime, , pp 190-205. London: Routeledge.Additional: Robinson, P. (1999) “The CNN effect: Can the news media drive foreignpolicy?” in Review of International Studies, 25, 301-309.