Media and Politics, Vol. 4 - 1997, No. 3
Promotional cultures, to use Wernick.s expression, have transformed communication, as the ideology of the market seeps into every facet of social life. Promotional texts, whether verbal, written or visual, now have great impact upon cultural formation and are contributing to a reflexive transformation of both individual and collective political identities. Much commentary on political change (and especially electoral change) is exercised by a powerfully normative concern with the alleged death of modernist forms of politics and political discourse. This paper goes beyond metaphorical hand-wringing to examine changes in the cultural currents which are transforming the politics of many post-historical societies, and which are conveniently summarised in the changing character of electoral politics and campaign discourses. Although frequently discussed as a kind of anti-politics, these currents, and their phenomenal appearance in the guise of media parties and forms of lifestyle marketing are producing a highly selfreferential style of electoral discourse, and are better understood as imitations of postmodern populism, where that involves: (1) a growing reliance on the techniques and outputs of culture industries to provide sites where meaning is constituted, (2) a de-centring of ideas and outputs about authentic forms of publicness, and (3) the side-lining of palpable modern forms of politics, like mass political parties.
This essay argues that the alliance between feminist media studies and cultural studies has encouraged many feminists to keep a critical distance from the important area of political-economic critique of culture. In addressing issues of social class, feminist media scholars have tended to treat the category as an irrelevant addendum to the gender-race-class trilogy, to undertheorise class, or to treat it as synonymous with social status. This essay contends that indifference to class and the treatment of class as a category that can be read off of a text or an audience fails to realise that class is only meaningful as a relationship of antagonism between different classes at the site of forces and relations of production. The result is that little attention is paid to how forms of patriarchy, women.s lives and cultural practices are incorporated into and structured by the capitalist mode of production.
From Ethnic Nationalism to Strategic Multiculturalism: Shifting Strategies of Remembrance in the Québécois Secessionist Movement
The controversy surrounding Jacques Parizeau's dramatically rejected address on the evening of the Québécois referendum on October 30th, 1995, provides an opportunity to examine the shifting politics of memory in the Québécois secessionist movement. By tracing the historical tensions between French and English Canadians, the manner in which those tensions were transmuted into language and constitutional law, and how those laws reflect competing articulations of national identity, the Québécois movement is shown to have shifted from an ethnic nationalism based on French Canadien ancestry to a civic nationalism based on strategic multiculturalism.
The paper will seek to analyse the internal debate that has raged throughout the party.s history as to what constitutes the most appropriate form of political communication. Two contrasting views are identified: these are "educationalism," that is the belief that the best way to win public support is through a determined and sustained political education programme relying on meetings, leaflets, labour intensive grassroots. work and informed de-bate; by contrast, what is labelled .persuasionalism. sees the media and mass communication as central to campaigning and places emphasis on the less tangential, image based appeals to what are perceived to be the largely disinterested electorate. The discussion will assess the centrality of the educationalist perspective to Labour Party strategy in the early part of its existence, that is the first half of this century. What will then be demonstrated is how what has broadly been defined as persuasionalism first challenged and then supplanted educationalism as the dominant party approach to electioneering. Discussion will note that Labour, probably like most social democratic parties, has contained elements hostile to the mass media as an agency of political communication. As the paper will show, this is not something unique to contemporary debate, and has in fact been a key theme of strategic discussion throughout the party's history.
The relationship between the media and politics is often negatively described as being in a state of confusion and turmoil in which new standards of public media performance are eroded by viewer ratings, commercialism and trans-nationalism. In this article, I will give examples from the Swedish setting to show how the relationship between media and politics is generally conceived, by indicating how media-workers and politicians become idealised in stereotypical roles of bad vs. good. .The State of the Ordinary. is what we refer to as a tendency toward everyday practices of .ordinariness. in language use and in the general rule of authenticity in the media, making room for a new kind of politician who claims to be not a "politician" but simply .him or herself. as a politician. Being "yourself" as a representative is a perennial feature of the attempt to legitimise dominant roles at the top of the hierarchy of power distribution.
Political rhetoric may be regarded as unchanging, following ancient and universal rules of persuasion. However, scholars sometimes argue that political language has changed substantially over the last decades, due to its adaptation to media logic or to new modes of electoral competition. In this article I propose a model for empirical research of party propaganda in different election campaign channels. Rather than to offer a comprehensive view of political rhetoric, this model is designed to provide more knowledge of what media changes may have meant for the language of political parties. Does election rhetoric vary systematically? If so, does rhetoric change over time, adopting qualities associated with media logic? Or, do we find a non-changing pattern which can better be explained by party competition factors? Three rhetorical dimensions are identified in the model: message concreteness, direction, and identity construction. These correspond to hypothesised media effects, as well as being relevant to parties making strategic campaign choices.