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Utopian Discourses Across Cultures

Scenarios in Effective Communication to Citizens and Corporations

Edited By Miriam Bait, Marina Brambilla and Valentina Crestani

The term Utopia, coined by Thomas More in 1516, contains an inherent semantic ambiguity: it could be read as eu topos (good place) or ou topos (no place). The authors of this volume analyze this polysemous notion and its fascination for scholars across the centuries, who have developed a variety of visions and ways to explain the «realization» of utopian discourses. The experts in the fields of sociology, political science, economics, computer science, literature and linguistics offer extensive studies about how utopian scenarios are realized in different cultural contexts.

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1. Society and Communication

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Miriam Bait The United Kingdom Is(a)land of Utopia: Self-Representation of City Councils and Communicative Strategies towards Citizens 1. Introduction The concept of utopia has always been associated with a place, a territory, a con- fined space in which the utopia is realized. And once its boundaries have been overstepped, it could become universal. Utopia inevitably references a social ideal and offers a model of coexistence, imagining how men should or could organize their lives. A utopian model of society and the institutions upon which this society should stand becomes visible in the communicative acts through which public admin- istrations speak about themselves. While the great literary utopias of the past seem to have faded into the background, they reemerge in today’s institutional communication. The utopia that I will try to outline in these pages is, in fact, a contemporary utopia, one concerning “public communication,” an expression that may sound like an oxymoron, especially for historical reasons, since institutions and govern- ments have generally not been known for excelling in their communication with the public. But the profound transformation that has taken place in recent decades in west- ern public administrations has greatly influenced the ways in which public bodies can communicate with and thus relate to the citizens they serve. At the center of what has been called “new public management”, “entrepreneurial Government”, or “neo-managerialism” (Hackney and McBride 1995; Terry 1998) is the adoption of good management and, above all, effective marketing strategies focused on the needs of...

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