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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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Antonella Napolitano: Achieving results for the American people. A corpus-assisted CDA of the White House website under Trump’s presidency

Achieving results for the American people.

A corpus-assisted CDA of the White House website

under Trump’s presidency

Extract

Antonella Napolitano

The consequences of globalisation and financial crisis, the feeling of uncertainty about the future, the fear of immigration and terrorism have generated a growing disillusionment with politics and a distrust of the elites. Minorities, subjects who are perceived as other from the original group, have been seen as a threat to the people’s legitimate rights and culture. The idea that citizens should exercise direct political power is being understood in a radical sense, leading to support for populist leaders who present themselves as part of the people. This trend has culminated in extreme manifestations such as Brexit, or the election of Donald Trump in the United States (see also Demata 2018).

Despite its recent upswing, populism does not represent a new phenomenon. It is commonly viewed as an approach framing politics as a struggle between the will of the common people and a conspiring elite. Albertazzi and O’Donnell (2008: 3) define populism as:

an ideology which pits a virtuous and homogeneous people against a set of elites and dangerous others who are together depicted as depriving (or attempting to deprive) the sovereign people of their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice.

Regardless of their policy positions, some elements seem to be present in the populist persuasive discourse, namely:

Manichaean outlook; identification of Good with the will of the people; identification of Evil with a conspiring elite; […] an emphasis on systemic change and an anything-goes attitude toward minority rights...

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