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Politics and populism across modes and media

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Edited By Ruth Breeze and Ana María Fernández Vallejo

The relationship between politics and digital media is currently a focus of intense interest: the symbiosis between the two spheres is such that political activity is now almost inseparable from media communication. However, the implications of this development are not fully understood. Digital media are a powerful tool in the hands of mainstream parties, but also make it easier than ever before for the public to express their reactions, or for new actors to enter the political arena. This volume explores the intersection between politics and new media, which involves crucial ideals, values and aspirations, such as informed democracy, citizens’ empowerment and social debate, but also negative aspects like manipulation and polarization.

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Giorgos Venizelos: Populism and the digital media: A necessarily symbiotic relationship? Insights from the case of Syriza

Populism and the digital media: A necessarily

symbiotic relationship? Insights from the case

of Syriza

Extract

Giorgos Venizelos

An avalanche of literature suggests that there is an intimate interaction between populism and the digital media1. This relationship has been well-studied from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, including political communication, media and culture studies, and political party research (see Blumler/Gurevitch 1995; Boomgaarden/Vliegenthart 2009; Ellinas 2010; Esser/Strömbäck 2014; Tronconi 2015; de Vreese et al. 2018). In brief, this abundant literature perceives the successful diffusion of populist discourse as something that is closely related to the processes of political mediatisation. In the most recent years, respective research moved from the point of studying digital media as an extraneous tool in political practices to the recognition of the key role that technological means of communication play in the rise and dominance of populist actors. On the supply side of political discourse, ‘populist parties are said to be more dependent on media and communication because they have weaker party organisation compared to the old, traditional parties’ (Aalberg et al. 2017: 6–7). On the demand side, it seems that the more media outlets adopt a market logic the more they are attracted by dramatic and alarmist discourses to host in their headlines (Mazzoleni/Stewart/Horsfield 2003). As Mazzoleni (2003: 3) puts it in a chapter named ‘The media and the growth of neo-populism in contemporary democracies’, “a full understanding of the populist ←47 | 48→phenomenon cannot be achieved without studying mass communication perspectives and media-related dynamics, especially not without using a comparative approach.”

This ‘shift’ in...

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