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Democracy in the Age of New Media

The Politics of the Spectacle

Tauel Harper

In the age of the spectacle, democracy has never looked so bleak. Our world, saturated with media and marketing, endlessly confronts us with spectacles vying for our attention: from Apple and 9/11 to Facebook and the global financial crisis. Democratic politics, by comparison, remain far from engaging. A society obsessed with spectacles results in a complete misfiring of the democratic system.
This book uses critical democratic theory to outline the effects of consumer culture on citizenship. It highlights the importance that public space plays in creating the critical culture necessary for a healthy democracy, and outlines how contemporary ‘public’ spaces – shopping centres, the Internet, social networking sites and suburban communities – contribute to this culture. Terrorism, ecological destruction and the financial crisis are also outlined as symptoms of the politics of the spectacle. The book concludes with some basic principles and novel suggestions which could be employed to avoid the pitfalls inherent in our spectacular existence.

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Acknowledgments .............................................................................................. vii Credits for Lyrics and Artwork......................................................................... viii Introduction: The Concept of Democracy ......................................................... 1 Part One: Critical Reflections on Modern Democracy Chapter One: The Agonistic Public Realm ...................................................... 11 Chapter Two: Deliberative Democracy ............................................................. 27 Chapter Three: Media, Technology and Democracy........................................ 42 Part Two: Digital Spaces: Digital Selves Chapter Four: Introducing the Age of the Spectacle........................................ 65 Chapter Five: The “Public” Realms of Spectacular Society.............................. 85 Part Three: Spectacular ®evolution: Democracy and the Spectacle Chapter Six: The Politics of the Spectacle ...................................................... 109 Chapter Seven: Constructing a Critical Democratic Theory ......................... 131 Conclusion: What Can Be Done?................................................................... 151 Notes.................................................................................................................159 Bibliography .....................................................................................................167 Index.................................................................................................................175

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