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Political Communication

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1 Political Communication
Lecture I: Definition and theory Lecture II: Media logic and effects Lecture III: Political rhetoric, marketing, PR, and their impact Lecture IV: Deliberative democracy and IT

2 Political behaviour and communication
Moving focus from sociological explanations of political behaviour towards the process of politics To what extent are citizens informed about, involved in, influenced by political events and processes Two core questions of political communication studies: How democratic (inclusive, open, participatory) are democracies? How effectively can the public be manipulated?

3 Politics and communication
Secret communication in politics Bargaining, negotiations Private communication about politics Interpersonal debate Public communication of and about politics Deliberation, information, rhetoric Horizontal communication Interaction within elites, or among citizens Vertical communication Between government/elites and public (mostly top-down)

4 Defining “Political Communication”
Chaffee (1975) Political Communication “the role of communication in the political process” McNair (1995) Introduction to Political Communication “the term has proved to be notoriously difficult to define [...] because both components of the phrase are themselves open to a variety of definitions” “purposeful communication about politics” Denton and Woodward (1990) Political Communication in America “pure discussion about allocation of public resources[...], official authority[...] and official sanction” “crucial factor that makes communication ‘political’ is not the source of a message [...] but its content and purpose” McQuail (1992) “Political Communication” in Encyclopedia of Government and Politics “Political communication […] refers to all processes of information (including facts, opinions, beliefs, etc.), transmission, exchange and search engaged in by participants in the course of institutionalised political activities.”

5 McQuail’s definition Communication in the political (constitutional) system of democratic society Media fulfilling instrumental functions in political communications as a reporter of events as a platform for the expression of political opinion as an instrument of political party organization and weapon in inter-party conflicts as a watchdog on governmental actions as an instrument of government for information and influence

6 Exchange between elites and masses
Watts (1997) understands function of mass media to be that of “intermediaries in the process of political communication, enabling the government and its opponents to speak to the electorate and the electorate to communicate with its leaders” Perloff (1998) defines political communication as “the process by which a nation’s leadership, media and citizenry exchange and confer meaning upon messages that relate to the conduct of public policy”

7 Public nature of political communication
Implicit in all definitions McNair points out that since we have little to no data about secret or private communication about politics, we cannot consider these forms of interpersonal communication When does public communication of and about politics become a systematic (systemic) feature of politics? In democracies, where all politics is inescapably public In ideological regimes, where all politics becomes essentially propagandistic

8 Democracy and publicity
Political developments, decisions, plans, crises, negotiations, treaties etc. have to be communicated, publicised, publicly defended, put to debate, justified or spun The pervasiveness of political communication is a consequence of the public nature of politics in liberal democracies It is irrelevant whether or to what extent existing democracies actually approximate the democratic ideal Once a democratic process is established, even if this were a complete façade, politics needs to be played out in public

9 Ideology and propaganda
Establishment of political authority and subordination under leadership through belief systems Ideological regimes aim to transform and convert subjects and are doctrinal They require education and indoctrination of the public It is irrelevant whether ideology is understood as an end, or a means to an end, or whether leaders believe themselves in the truth that their ideologies preach Once an ideological regime is established, propaganda becomes an essential feature of public life

10 Historical roots of political communication
Persuasion Aristotle’s rhetoric Publicity Immanuel Kant and the concept of hypothetical publicity Propaganda The study of propaganda in the inter-war period preceded the later focus on forms of political communication (public relations, political marketing, electioneering, mass media effects) in Western democracies

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