A MediaEgo in the MediaPolis. Towards a New Paradigm of Political Communication

by Agnieszka Walecka-Rynduch (Author)
©2021 Monographs 304 Pages


The monograph is focused on three essential research problems identified by the key terms used in its title. The analysis covers concepts that previously were not subject to in-depth research projects: the MediaPolis, a MediaEgo and evolution of the political communication paradigm, observed and analysed on the political scene in Poland. Evolution of the public sphere and the media requires consideration of the causes of ongoing changes and of forecast transformations initiated by those changes. Hence, the research project focused on the sphere that emerged in an intersection of known discourse areas – public, political, meta-political and media discourses. The monograph summarizes years of research into the proposed concepts of a MediaEgo politician and the MediaPolis public sphere.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • A methodological framework for inference: Assumptions of a scientific theory
  • Paradigm in a scientific theory
  • Discourse as an area of inference about the MediaPolis sphere
  • The narrative turn in the MediaPolis
  • Elements of rhetoric in new media discourse: Political linguistics
  • Premises of classical rhetoric in communicology
  • New rhetoric and political linguistics
  • Metaphor and political myth in the MediaPolis
  • Between politics and (non)politics: Entertainment as contemporary propaganda in the MediaPolis
  • The contemporary public sphere: The sphere of politics – the political sphere – the MediaPolis
  • The concept of public sphere
  • Philosophical concepts of the public sphere and their effect on the MediaPolis
  • The first approach – the model of Arendt
  • The premises of the concept manifesting themselves in the MediaPolis
  • The second approach: The Habermas model
  • The premises of the concept manifesting themselves in the MediaPolis
  • The third approach: The Rawls’s model
  • The premises of the concept manifesting themselves in the MediaPolis
  • The fourth approach: The Ackerman model
  • The premises of the concept manifesting themselves in the MediaPolis
  • The fifth approach: Thompson’s model
  • The premises of the concept manifesting themselves in the MediaPolis
  • The MediaPolis sphere: The new public sphere
  • Phenomena affecting the MediaPolis
  • Mediatisation and mediation of the political space
  • Selected definitions of mediatisation in Polish scientific discourse
  • Videology and YouTubification of the political space
  • Tabloidisation of the public space
  • The political, post-politics and post-truth in today’s public sphere
  • The concept of community identity in the public space as an element of new axiology in the MediaPolis
  • Communicative rationality in the MediaPolis
  • Network society in the MediaPolis
  • The MediaEgo: A new personal, identity- and media-oriented type of politician
  • The perspective of political marketing
  • The psychological approach
  • The political science approach
  • The social approach
  • The communicative approach: Public relations
  • The perspective of personalisation of politics
  • The research category of MediaEgo
  • A typology of indicators determining a MediaEgo
  • Indicators related to the moment of entry of a candidate/politician in the sphere of state politics
  • Indicators related to the communication level (the linguistic and rhetorical aspects) of creation of the candidate’s/politician’s image
  • Indicators related to the creation of the personal, media- and identity-oriented type of politician in the MediaPolis space
  • Evolution of the political communication paradigm
  • Methodological remarks
  • The intended function: New storytelling
  • The assigned function: Associative communication
  • (Not) new media in service of the MediaEgo
  • Examples of verbal expression of selected topoi
  • Communicative mimicry and mimesis: Facebook accounts of Andrzej Duda and Beata Szydło
  • Facebook and audiovisual creation of MediaEgo authority
  • Epistolography in MediaEgo’s service: Creating the figure of authority
  • The performed function: Performative communication
  • Creative non-fiction as a simulacrum of the present
  • Multiplication of communication channels in the MediaPolis sphere: Gossip portals and the performance of the present
  • Amalgamated worlds: The MediaEgo reality and Chair’s Ear
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Letters sent by Prime Minister Beata Szydło
  • List of tables
  • List of illustrations
  • List of charts
  • Index

←21 | 23→ A methodological framework for inference: Assumptions of a scientific theory

In terms of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, my research into MediaEgo politicians in the MediaPolis public sphere is based on the firm belief that “the deepest logic of the social world can be grasped only if one plunges into the particularity of an empirical reality, historically located and dated” (Bourdieu, 1998: 2). Bourdieu argued that this approach to an analysed reality is necessary to construct it as an exemplary case in a finite universe of possible configurations (Bourdieu, 1998: 2).

Bourdieu indicates that at every moment of each society, one has to deal with a set of social positions which is bound by a relation of homology to a set of activities or of goods that are also characterised relationally (Bourdieu, 1998: 5). The author emphasises that this formula states the first condition for an adequate analysis of the relation between social positions (a relational concept), dispositions (or habitus)7 and stances, that is the choices made by the social agents8 in the most diverse domains of practice (Bourdieu, 1998: 25). As individuals, they are equipped with a practical reason, or acquired system of preferences, principles of vision and division (commonly termed “taste”), durable cognitive structures (essentially, internalised objective structures) and schemes of action that orient the perception of the situation and the appropriate response (Bourdieu, 1998: 25). The habitus is a generative and unifying principle which retranslates the intrinsic and relational characteristics of a position into a unitary lifestyle, that is a unitary set of choices of persons, goods, and practices (Bourdieu, 1998: 8).

How can this complex and relational reality be translated into a theoretical system? How can this methodology be used to explain processes taking place in the MediaPolis public sphere?

This section sets a methodological framework in which the research problem will be defined using a conceptual apparatus and an identified discourse ←23 | 24→ communication strategy. Theoretical foundations will also be indicated for the phenomena analysed in the following sections.

The discussion of identified phenomena will frequently include meta-methodology that is indispensable to fully understand the ongoing evolution process of the political communication paradigm in the MediaPolis public sphere, using the method of scientific observation.

Methodological reflections will cover the concepts of paradigm and discourse in a scientific theory, the narrative turn in the MediaPolis, an analysis of rhetorical components in new media discourse and a discussion of political linguistics aspects. This framework also includes topics addressed in communicology using classic rhetorical concepts, comments on the new rhetoric and political linguistics, an analysis of metaphor and political myth in the MediaPolis, and an outline of methodology that may be useful in research into politics and (non)politics. Propaganda in the MediaPolis will be discussed, particularly propaganda broadcast and distributed as a kind of entertainment.

As I indicate above, the principal method used by me in this research project is scientific observation. The set of problems identified requires new assumptions about the nature of the reality analysed (Nowak, 1985: 57). The Polish researcher Zygmunt M. Zimny indicates that each type of cognition (sensual, empirical, theoretical) must include verification of three research approaches, syncretic, analytical and synthetic (Zimny, 2000: 161). When planning research into the topics discussed below (theoretical research), a “thetic” (norm-oriented) concept of reality must be adopted to select a research thesis and antithesis (Zimny, 2000: 161). The study thus focuses on observable properties of its subject and aims to demonstrate characteristics that can be distinguished based on those properties (Zimny, 2000: 167).9 Such assumptions must be adopted to indicate the characteristics of the material analysed (considering identified properties) and changes that are observed or can occur in the future (Zimny, 2000: 177). That is, theories explain observations using concepts. Jonathan Turner even describes concepts as basic building blocks of theory (Turner, 1989: 5; as cited in Babbie (2004: 67). Concepts are understood as abstract ideas representing classes of phenomena in a defined domain. A variable adopting a defined set or range of values represents a special type of concept (Babbie, 2004: 67). Identification of such variables belongs among the key objectives of this study. ←24 | 25→

The chosen observation method is based on established research patterns and approaches. When this method is used in research into the MediaPolis, two opposite models of inference can be distinguished. One of them is a deterministic stance close to the views of Marshall McLuhan. This is a structuralist approach. The underlying assumption says that the observed life of a community depends on the existing social structures, and those “structures or relatively stable relations between phenomena determine or at least materially affect the behaviour of society” (Bukowski, 2018: 173). The approach is used to observe the roles played by an institution or individual (in our study, by the entire MediaEgo construct) in maintaining the social whole, or to study hidden patterns and mechanisms that explain behaviours of the analysed community (Bukowski, 2018: 173).

The other model of inference offered by the scientific observation method results from the interactionist perspective. That perspective is definitely closer to observation of a MediaEgo in the MediaPolis public sphere. The structures existing in that sphere are freely created, based to a significant extent on interactions among members of the analysed community. An important role in the community is played by the practice of assigning meanings. All that people do must have a meaning for them that is continually processed and negotiated (Bukowski, 2018: 173). This study uses concepts proposed by the following general theories: symbolic interactionism (the approaches of Jay Blumler and George Mead), negotiation theories of communication (the approach of Stuart Hall), and interaction theories developed by performativity students (performative communications).


The assumptions underlying scientific theories and their initial research hypotheses frequently result from previous generalisations. They are indispensable to achieving cumulative scientific progress. Previously verified generalisations and theories provide means to verify or falsify new hypotheses and theories (Nowak, 1985: 399). Theories, argues Adam Grobler, who is frequently quoted in Polish studies into methodology, must be treated as families of specific model approaches that are semantic on the one hand and iconic on the other hand, but must always refer to a specific fragment of reality (Grobler, 2006: 178–179). A discipline in which previously verified generalisations provide assumptions for new questions, and for new laws and theories addressing those questions is termed by students of methodology “normal science” (Kuhn, Nowak,) (Nowak, 1985: 400; Kuhn, 2009: 31–51). The renowned Polish methodology student Stefan Nowak indicates that the heuristic function of existing theories and their role as assumptions for new hypotheses usually disappears in time and further progress is conditional on proposing a new “vision” of the analysed phenomena ←25 | 26→ or their new concept. The author emphasises that a vision or concept must be fully consciously treated as hypothetical (Nowak, 1985: 400). This is a starting point for a description of phenomena that occur in the MediaPolis public sphere.

Science is direct research into paradigms. In this process, emphasises Thomas Kuhn, formulation of rules and assumptions may be helpful but is not indispensable (Kuhn, 2009: 86). An existing paradigm does not need to imply that a complete set of rules exists (Kuhn, 2009: 87). Substituting paradigms for rules makes the diversity of scientific fields and specialties easier to understand (Kuhn, 2009: 95).

That vision as a whole stimulates intuitive theoretical thought and its heuristic function can be distinguished. However, some of its assumptions may be recognised in time as assumptions underlying questions that can be answered by a new theory based on the vision. This is the case of Kuhn’s “scientific revolution.” The concept of paradigm, a basis of changes in a scientific theory, must be introduced and explained.

The model of inference about a MediaEgo politician in the MediaPolis public sphere is represented by the following diagram:

Chart 1.Model of interference about a MediaEgo politician in the MediaPolis public sphere

Source: Author

Paradigm in a scientific theory

Thomas Kuhn concludes that paradigms provide all phenomena except anomalies in the scientist’s field of vision (Kuhn, 2009: 173). The term ‘paradigm,’ so important in humanities, social and exact sciences, is not completely clear. The Polish Encyclopaedia of Philosophy defines “paradigm” as follows: “(Greek: parádeigma – pattern, model; Latin: paradigma – sample, example) – an original term for Plato’s form that provided a pattern for temporal objects; currently in linguistics – a set of declensions or conjugations characteristic of a part of speech; in rhetoric – exceptionally clear and typical example illustrating the discussed topic” (Maryniarczyk, 2007: 86). Paradigm viewed as a component of a research method must be defined otherwise.

In Kuhn’s approach, a paradigm represents a set of theories, ideas, thoughts that represent sufficiently original and attractive achievements to deflect attention of supporters of a specific theory from competitive methods of research ←26 | 27→ work. For Kuhn, the term ‘paradigm’ closely relates to the concept of normal science. The researcher indicates that some accepted examples of actual scientific practice provide models from which particular coherent traditions of scientific research spring (Kuhn, 2009: 32). Acquisition of a paradigm and of the more esoteric type of research it permits is a sign of maturity of a scientific field (Kuhn, 2009: 33). Paradigms undergo various transformations in time, and those changes trigger Kuhn’s scientific revolutions. The transition from one paradigm to another is characteristic of the normal process of scientific development (Kuhn, 2009: 35,68). The adoption of common paradigms is not identical with the adoption of common rules. Rule formulation requires that individual paradigms be compared and confronted with current reports on research projects (Kuhn, 2009: 85–86).

Importantly, this process is normal rather than incidental, because “no part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena,” emphasises Kuhn, “indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all. … normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies” (Kuhn, 2009: 53). The belief in paradigm is a driving force of science not in terms of its description but in the context of search for, and classification of what “relaxes the restrictions that bound research” and make insufficient the current, apparently appropriate paradigm (Kuhn, 2009: 54). The search for a body of rules competent to constitute a given normal research tradition becomes a source of continual and deep frustration (Kuhn, 2009: 86–87).

The aim of the search is then abstraction from global paradigms of components that may become a rule in research (Kuhn, 2009: 86).10 In my opinion, those components can be compared to Stefan Nowak’s indicators and indicatum. Their abstraction will enable me to indicate the characteristics that constitute the MediaEgo type of politician (discussed below).

Indicators (and indicatum) are used to identify objects of the same category or to distinguish objects that should be classified in different categories, considering their characteristics. Following Nowak’s methodological approach, an indicator (of an event, characteristic) <Z> “is such an event (a characteristic) <W> that its observed existence, appearance, intensity is actually used as a premise or can reasonably be used as a premise in reasoning that a <Z> event (characteristic) ←27 | 28→ occurred in specific cases with certainty, with definite probability or at least with a probability higher than average” (Nowak, 1985: 165). The reasoning based on indicators and indicatum is thus initiated when a researcher observes the existence of the phenomenon (characteristic) <W> that may be a purely observational judgement resulting from an interpretation of certain states of affairs.

This is also characteristic of the reasoning adopted in this book to demonstrate the existence of a specific type of politician, a MediaEgo in the MediaPolis public sphere. In this type of research, indicators include phenomena, states of affairs and events (behaviours) that can easily be observed and “relatively reliably explained by a psychological and cultural understanding interpretation” (Nowak, 1985: 166).11

In the context of meta-methodology, the question arises how changes take place in the MediaPolis. How are new facts discovered and how are new theories developed?


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (June)
Media Communication New channels of communication MediaPolis Political Communication Communication Paradigm
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 304 pp., 50 fig. b/w, 3 tables.

Biographical notes

Agnieszka Walecka-Rynduch (Author)

Agnieszka Walecka-Rynduch is doctor of social communication and media studies. She is a member of the Polish Communication Association, and the Ethical Commission at the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also supervises the Team for Research into New Media and Journalism at the Centre of Research into Media. Her scientific interests include political communication, today’s media, public relations, and political marketing.


Title: A MediaEgo in the MediaPolis. Towards a New Paradigm of Political Communication
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306 pages