A day at the zoo: Political communication, pigs and popular culture

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Current worries about a supposedly increasing popularization of political campaign methods and styles are rooted in the historical oppositions between popular culture and modernism. The folkloric world of popular culture, ruled by coincidence and marked by suspicion and sensation, seems to be thoroughly at odds with the modernist tradition of politics which is distinguished by a belief in rationality, progress and the capacity of people to take control over their own lives. Nevertheless, there are many historical articulations of popular culture and politics which have by definition been contested and controversial. Nowadays, a general fear is that politics is becoming completely popularized, implying among other things an appearance of politicians on popular 'platforms', a changed rhetorical style and an adaptation and acknowledgement of popular political themes. In such 'moral panics', politicians, academics and journalists alike, firmly blame (commercial) television for such a 'refeudalization' of political life and for the increasing numbers of political cynics among citizens. But popular political communication should instead be perceived as a symptom of a crisis in the relation between citizens and their representatives, and as an attempt to restore that relation. Whereas the different social traditions of popular culture and politics will prevent the complete popularization of politics, in the postmodern condition there is a need for a new generation of politicians who are able to reconcile the different requirements of popular culture and representative politics, and who may thus inspire a much needed revived sense of connectedness between citizens and their representatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-200
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1998


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