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Definition: A condition reached when the

involvement of media representations not only in

popular knowledge about politics but also in the
conduct of politics becomes a factor of primary
systemic significance.

Media logic colonised politics?

Politics hijacked the media?

Modernisation: increased focus on political style

and personality politics is articulation of post-
traditional lifestyle choices

From traditions and their institutions to issue-

specific and personality-bound forms of political
recognition and engagement

"During periods of cross-party convergence on

Political process: rise of political publicity major ideological issues ahd when loyalty to
political parties is weak; the dependency of
political claims-making on strong media
performances increases"

Creating new symbolic realities that favour focus

on individual

Unclear Origins
Professionalisation of communication machinery
(PR and press office): the birth of the spin doctor
OR: Two things interacting with each other?

Spin: regulating and organising media flows –

getting into the news frame

Westminster lobby and daily briefings

Reward the compliant ones– leaks, scandals,

example: Alastair Campbell

Media development: political journalism in

changed media economy "Divide and rule"

24/7, competitive– "On an average day seven

minutes of news happen. Yet there are currently
three full-time news networks
Political news coverage
Commercial logic, resorting to sensationalism /
scandal /focus on political style, political
individuals, political (per)form(ance)

Politicians with a distinct and identifiable "style"

Politicians who confidently use and exploit a wide

range of (unconventional) media platforms to
Personality Politics
perform different skills, characteristics and

Elements Mediagenecity They have the skills to "work" each medium

Political Systems
Convergence of two formerly distinct spheres
Blurring Boundaries Media Systems

Politicised Media vs. Mediatised Politics

Does mediatised politics have a place in healthy

demcratic processes and politics?

Does it threaten, undermine it?

Mediated Democracy

Is it central / conducive to democracy?

Political representation and accountability should

be based on content, policy and political skills
Key Academic Concern
Critical Distortion of Democracy
"Unless citizens receive proper information and
candidates provide meaningful choices, it short-
cuts democratic procedures"
Two strands of academic argument

Politics is representation, politics is performance

of skills, competence and qualities
Less Negative Central to Democracy
Politics is the appearance of compentence rather
than the fact of it

to inability to critically assess public figures and

hold them accountable

Developments in politcal journalism point at

Negative to democratic failure

to fragility of commercial media (media

Bottom Line
The sound bite is medium-accomodation;
judging personality and comparing brands is
wider cultural phenomenon; form and content
are not distinct; politics is representation; politics
Neutral / celebratory is advertising (=painting prefered picture)

Commercial media / political journalism and

quality media are not irreconcilable

The relationship between the media and


"The normative relationship of individuals to the

state in a democracy, involving rights and
responsibilities and assuming levels of
knowledge about politics and political

This means that citizenship requires a space

where people can critically and rationally use
their political knowledge to assess the state, hold
it accountable, make it respond to public opinion

In mediated democracies, that space should be

enabled / fostered by the media (right?)

But can media provide a space where this

The Public Sphere deliberative argument can flourish?

space for rational argument where citizens reflect

upon themselves and the state
Habermas‘s normative concept of the public
Nostalgia: this ideal public space existed in the (refeudalism)
late 18th century (coffeehouses) but has fallen
due to capitalism

Critical argument and assessing only possible in

Important scholar Jürgen Habermas
public sphere cannot be fostered by current more honest, rational, independent, alternative,
The promise of non-mainstream media
mainstream mediatised politics critical and non-mainstream media: "subaltern
counterpublics & community media"

Deliberation and critical assessment is possible,
even in sensationalist and entertainment
public sphere can be fostered by current
The promise of mainstream media programming. It simply is a different (affective)
mainstream mediatised politics
mode to getting citizens involved, getting
them to think and talk about political issues

‘Doing something’
Performing identities and distinctions
Performing localities
Consumption beyond consumption / encouter
Complying with / resisting belief systems
with the text
Producing new / appropriating existing texts
Managing /changing relationship

Early cultural studies endeavour

Celebration of the popular (text and people)

From being duped and compliant (media

pessimism) to being in power and resistant

Ethnographic research

Major figure: Henry Jenkins - academic fan / fan


“I am not a Trekkie. I am not a Trekker. I am,

Fandom can be an act of cultural resistance however, a television fan who has enjoyed an
active, participatory relationship to Star Trek and
a variety of other programs for more than twenty
years. I am part of a community of cultural
nomads and poachers which has defined itself
through its dynamic, productive relationship to
television. When I write as an ethnographer about
fan culture, I am also writing about my own

(Jenkins, H. 1997. Television fans, poachers,

Opportunities / Tools
nomads. In: Gelder, K. & S. Thornton (eds). The
Subcultures Reader. London: Routledge)

How do we "become"?

Phenomenological approach Subjectivity is a performative task

Fandom as a "tool"
Fandom can perform social identities
Who / how are we?

Theatrical approach Everyday life is a performance

Fandom as a stage

Fandom can perform localities

Negative connotations in defining

“Fans are those people who become particularly

attached to certain programmes or stars within
the contexts of a relatively heavy media
use” (138)

A continuum of audience involvement “Cultists are more organised than fans. They
meet each other and circulate specialised
materials that constitute the nodes of a
network” (139)
Abercrombie, N. & B. Longhurst. 1998.
Audiences. A sociological theory of performance
and imagination. London: Sage.

Definition Semiotic productivity (meaning-making) /

Enuanciative productivity (private to public) /
The cultural economy of fandom Textual productivity (consumption to production)
What do fans do? Fiske, J. 1992. the cultural economy of fandom.
In: L. Lewis (ed). Adoring Audiences. Fan culture
and popular media. London: Routledge.

Authenticity procedures – performing / requiring
proof of investment, knowledge, expertise

Obsessive individuals
"Pathologising" notion
Hysterical crowds

Media Consumption
Relationship between audience and text

1950s+ Psychology Para-social interaction and identification

Imagined face-to-face relationship


"Revaluing" and taking serious popular culture

Celebrating and taking serious fandom and
media pleasures

Popular culture produces publics of fans (trivial)

Strict division
Politics produces publics of citizens (serious)

Fan of popular culture as the perfect blueprint

A radical assertion?
for ideal citizens in democracy

the spheres of politics and entertainment are


entertainment is inherently trivial and

Convergence of entertainment and politics Against
detrimental to the public sphere

increased focus on political style is cause of

‘dumbing down’

Modern times: votes no longer to be taken for


Political parties no longer have constituencies,

but have to produce them

Communities that materialise as a result of

performance and appeal of party and politicians

Structure of social formation

Equivalent in how TV shows and programmes
construct fans

Fans would equal voters for a party


Fan activity and political activity are fully Cultists would equal members of a political party
Liesbet van Zoonen Three levels of analogy Equivalence in "audience career path"

Enthusiasts would equal people who actually

have taken up representational activities

Fandom is particularly expressed in the

Intense individual investment in the text
interpretation of texts

Strong quest among fans to have similar

Strong participation in communal discussions
Nature of the repertoire of activities Activities readings or interpretations of programmes
and deliberation
(despite obvious disagreement)

The boundaries of the programme are not bound

Fans move beyond the text
by the programme as it is produced by others

Degree of emotional investment

Cognitions, investments, practices and

interactions involved in being a fan are the same
as required in being an ideal citizen in

No distinction between high-cultural fandom and


But also ‘The representation of politics on

television ... may be seen as inviting the affective
intelligence that is vital to keep political
involvement and activity going’

Key Question: How do the media construct public

knowledge and public understanding?

The media construct rather than mirror social


The media are able to build or reinforce

particular versions of the social world

The media often articulate hegemonic views of

What we know the social world

The interplay between media and ideology

Public knowledge and understanding is based on

the production of versions of social reality we
accept as representing the world as it is or
should be

Language (text and visual) has the ability to say

something about what happened, who caused it,
who was responsible, who was not responsible,
How can a small thing like a word have an impact whose actions were justified, whose actions
Relationship between micro textual elements of a
on what version of the social world is should be condemned.
media text and broader "extra-textual" processes
And that causal attribution can have major
impact on how, for example, we understand a

The media do not acknowledge dualities

The media systemetically privilege one side at

the expense of the other
Example: Highly contested Israel-Palestinian
Critical media scholars:
This results in the reinforcement of highly
problematic versions, accounts and explanations
in the social world that have major

The role of textual elements in problematic

versions of the social world

CDA: Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough &

van Dijk)

late 1970s

role of factual and fictional media (mainly tv


In any contentious area there will be competing

ways of describing events and their history

Exploring themes of contention: how are they

described or represented visually and / or

GUMG: Glasgow University Media Group (Philo)

Explore the kind of textual features that are
argued to have important consequences in a
particular context

Media ownership

Relationship media - state

can look at
Political elites

Practical issues & routine practices

On a lot of contested areas, mainstream mass

Critical media scholars and textual research media privilege one side at the expense of the

Typically the perspective that serves the

interests of the most dominant and powerful in
society (multinationals, powerful states,
governments, lobby groups, media moguls)

Media institutions might not be conscious of

this – they are equally ‘trapped’ in ideology

Choices on a textual level can construct a

particular version of an event and can thereby
directly secure or benefit the interests of the
dominant and powerful

Let’s do that by drawing on a very systematic
and sophisticated toolkit and explore what
choices are made on a lexical or grammatical
Communication As A Social Force Let’s only focus on the text and then argue for
the interests behind and impact of those texts

Let’s explore the kind of textual features that we
argue can have important consequences in a
particular context
Let’s also explore the production and
consumption of media texts: why do texts the
way they look and how are they actually

Audiences rely on a version of reality built from

Neuman et al. personal experience, interaction with peers, and
interpreted selections from the media

stretches of text and talk

how media construct (versions of) reality through lexical: words

grammatical: structure of sentences

promoting a particular problem definition,

how media construct (versions of) reality through causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or
treatment recommendation
is making ‘a piece of information more
noticeable, meaningful or memorable to

Discourse and Frame research
causal attribution
Overlap in analysing texts both (could) focus on
Media & the Production of Public Knowledge text & cultural context

labels, stereotypes, metaphors

Theoretical backgrounds

methods, analytical instruments


are different scholarly communities with different


political sphere

society public sphere

private sphere

mediation of political knowledge

mediated democracy

personalised politics (spin)


Collapse of cabinet
Withdrawal of troops

Take on their meaning by being embedded in a frame

Example: Dutch withdrawal of troops or story line that organises them and gives them

core news facts

In other words, we can distinguish between
frame carrying elements or framing devices

called framing a ‘fractured paradigm’ and

bemoaned the ‘scattered conceptualization’
No clear definitions
Eclectic use of theory
No general framing theory

calls for a ‘coherent theory’

meaning or decision making or interpretation is

always negotiated
this negotiation takes place where a frame and
an individual’s prior knowledge meet
Frames this knowledge has the form of memory,
cognitive schemata

schema’s are mentally stored principles for

information processing
internalized guides
Problems in defining framing thinks we should keep it that way and encourage
researchers to employ and refine many theories
from three paradigms:
Is supported by political economic theory
News frames reflect the values of political and
critical economic elites
Confirmation of hegemonic social relations
Dominant frames limit the range of debate

construction of social reality

constructionist news frames are constructions of the social world
and shaped by journalists and newswork routines

Analysing media frames means acknowledging

most of these approaches:

Cognitive - frames relate to existing knowledge

Constructionist – frames construct social reality
Critical – some frames serve certain interests

the communicator (journalists)

the text (media)

Located in
the receiver (audience)

the culture ((geo)history)

problem definition
causal interpretation
tracing the frames that characterize a particular
inductive Issue specific frames news story with an open mind: issue specific
frames (interpretative; qualitative analysis)
moral evaluation

treatment recommendation

Conflict frame: emphasizes a conflict between

individuals, groups or institutions

Human-interest frame exposes the human

emotional angle in the presentation of an event,
issue or problem; the news becomes
personalized, dramatized and emotional

Responsibility frame: presents the subject or

problem in a way that places the responsibility
deductive Generic frames for it’s cause or solution with the government, an
individual or a group

Morality frame: an event, problem or issue is

In texts (news reports)
approached from a moral or religious point of

Economic consequences frame indicates what the

economic outcome will be of an event, subject or
(Valkenburg & Semetko, 2000)



Narrative structures

Other framing devices Visuals




Are we mainly encouraged to engage with our WORLD

Are we and how are we encouraged by the media to
or are we mainly encouraged to engage with OUR
engage with the world?

Stretches of text and talk

Lexical: words
Discourse Construction of reality in the media through
Grammatical: Structure of sentences


Promoting a particular problem definition, causal

Framing Construction of reality in the media through interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment

Background of journalist

Editorial rules


Narrative structure (inverted pyramid)

Routine sources


Cultural proximity



Galtung & Ruge: The consideration of an event is
culturally determined
Elite nations

Elite people

Journalistic routines (news values)
Frames are the outcome of a news production process
and influenced by
News values
The power elite




Bad news
Good news
Mediated engagement with the world

Production of news


Follow up

Newspaper agenda

News organisation‘s policy

Extra media

Society (ideology)

Local level

Regional level
Physical or geographical closeness between event and
National level

International level

Journalist gives an event a local, regional or internation


Enhancing "psychological closeness"


Proximity and Scope Then a journalist has to decide what value the news
has for the audience


Deviance Social change

Can be

Deviance & Significance Political



A painful emotion occasioned by the awareness of

another person‘s undeserved misfortune

The suffering of others in the public sphere

Global Compassion
Global compassion
A moral sensibility or concern for remote strangers
from different continents, cultures and societies

Too much harping on the same set of images, too

Compassion fatigue strident coverage with insufficient background and
context, exhaust the public

Sociological and anthropological concept

the hierarchical arrangement of individuals

Referring to the different layers in society (class)

Social stratification

functional, keeps a society balanced and stable

used to constitute, confirm and legalise inequality

Optimists: Western mass media are multi-dimensional

and displaying conformist as well as critical stances

Pessimists: Mass media are one-dimensional and

support and confirm the status quo in the interest of
power elites

Categorise people

Naturalise identities

naturalise hierarchies and power relations (inequalities)

"Race", ethnicity and gender are social constructs and

should not be considered as essentialist notions

Media are institutions of transmission of culture and

cultural categories.
Mainstream mass media

Media represent and disseminate power relations and

thereby support the status quo (inequality)

Media and western society

conform stereotypical thinking

promote certain associations we automatically make
when confronted with representations of race, ethnicity
and gender

is limiting the audience‘s potential for alternative


Media and Social Stratification

That media as a public sphere cannot be critical and
emancipatory as well

That there isnt any room in most western countries for

counter frames, non-conformistic discourses and
alternative media / representations
This does not mean

That alternative views aren‘t represented in pop culture

That audiences are deprived from their agency to

produce oppositional readings

Negative representations in mass media may have real Important: The media do not more than draw upon
consequences pre-existing constructions within society.

Categorising people on the basis of physical


Shared cultural identity

Conceptualising identities Ethnicity
Favourable alternative to "race"

Cultural significance given to biological difference of

reproductive organs

Biological constructs Racial thinking = When race is employed as real

Social constructs Race etc. = social ideas

Studying race, ethnicity and gender

Production - content - audiences

Quantity: Under-representation

Media research Ghettoisation

Quality: Representation Stereotyping

Identity and lifestyle

Sex = Biological construct

Gender: masculinity / femininity
Gender = Social construct