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					Political Communication
Course overview Deadlines, resources Introductory lecture
Defining the concept “political communication” Social change and the rising importance of political communication

Course overview
 Lecture topics
 Propaganda  Public relations  Political marketing and spin  Media as political actors  Media effects  Election campaigns  Rhetoric and manipulation  Foreign affairs and political communication  Terrorism as/and communication  Deliberation, e-democracy, and the virtual public sphere  Truth, lying and bullshit in political communication

Deadlines and resources
Deadline for submitting essay: 08/12/2005 Tutorial presentation and essay topics
All titles on the reading list are accessible online or in the Heavy Demand section of Queen Mother Library
Search engine  E-journals databases   E-journals alphabetical listing  E-books 

Defining “Political Communication”
McNair (1995) Introduction to Political Communication
“Any book about political communication should begin by acknowledging that the term has proved to be notoriously difficult to define with any precision, simply because both components of the phrase are themselves open to a variety of definitions, more or less broad.”

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.”

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 interparty conflicts as a watchdog on governmental actions as an instrument of government for information and influence

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.”

History of political communication research
Beginning with the study of propaganda during and between the two world wars
Walter Lippmann’s “Public Opinion” (1922) Harold Lasswell’s “Propaganda Technique in the World War” (1927)

Early focus on war/fascist/stalinist propaganda resulting in a general preoccupation with persuasive effects of political messages (through media) According to McQuail (“Mass Communication Theory”), first period of communication studies (1920s-1940s) characterised by belief in omnipotence of mass media

Social, technological, structural change
1940s-1950s first empirical studies of media effects, in particular campaign studies Minimal effects model
 Lazarsfeld et al, The People’s Choice (1944)  Low levels of information, high levels of partisanship, habitual voting

Social change since 1960s
 Dealignment

Technological change
 TV becoming main information medium  Commercialisation, visualisation, tabloidisation

Professionalisation of political communication
 Political marketing, campaign consultancy

Third age of political communication
Blumler (2001)
First age 1950s:
 easy access to media, political communication reflecting partisan positions, reinforcing rather than persuading, strong and stable political institutions

Second age 1960s-1980s:
 Limited-channel network television, dealignment, consumerism, public skepticism about elites, increasing importance of political communication, and increasingly important role for media in political process, “the modern publicity process”

Third age 1990s-present:
 Proliferation within and beyond mainstream media, abundance of channels, unlimited reach, possibility for interactivity

Effects of abundance
Change in the politics-media relationship
 Limits of efficacy of news management  Costs vs. benefits of political spin  Decentralisation, localisation, diversification of campaigning  Possible reintroduction of political substance at expense of spin

Hypercompetition Populism
 “talk-show democracy”

Centrifugal diversification
 Abundance of channels allows to move away from universal audience appeals towards fragmented targeting

 Virtual public sphere  E-democracy

Reading for week 13 (Propaganda)
• Chapman, James (2000) “Review Article: The Power of Propaganda” Journal of Contemporary History 35(4): pp. 679–688 • Harrison, Shirley (1999) “Propaganda, Persuasion, and Symmetry: Local and Central Government Perspectives on Communicating with the Citizen” British Journal of Management 10: pp. 53-62 • Klaehn, Jeffery (2003) “Behind the Invisible Curtain of Scholarly Criticism: Revisiting the propaganda model” Journalism Studies 4(3): pp. 359–369 • Taylor, Philip M. (2003) Munitions of the Mind: a History of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Era. Manchester: Manchester University Press

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