the point of a university seminar is not to learn and know; it is to think, to question, and to understand.
staging politics: the communication of power, conflict and legitimacy
the media & communication institute, in cooperation with
the international school for humanities and social sciences
at the university of amsterdam
in the summer semester 2008
content & aims
politics, as it appears in the media, is often criticized as 'theater' - exaggerated, insincere, flashy and staged. this seminar focuses on how political figures 'perform' politics on the public stage of media democracy, and why they do so. actors seek attention and support, combining elements of entertainment, public relations and issue politics. the media plays a double role: on the one hand, it provides the stage and sets the rules for appearances on tv screens and newspaper front pages. on the other hand, it actively participates in the play and provides us with a daily critique of the political theater.
in this seminar, we will look behind the curtains, and get a glimpse at the storyboards, techniques, and the dynamics of staging and counter-staging. we will focus on three main themes political actors try to convey in their communication: power, conflict, and legitimacy. observing the everyday practice of political communication, the seminar seeks to give a deeper understanding of the show that surrounds most political events. what do politicians want to convey in their performances? why canít we simply get the facts straight? what is the point in scandalizing? and of course, how does the public react to this theatrical style of political communication?
participants will get an overview of theories of political communication and the political public sphere. they will engage critically with the notion of media democracy and the interplay of media and politics in contemporary society. the seminar is further aimed to train analytic skills by applying different theories of political communication to concrete everyday political practice.
staging what: introduction & basic concepts
staging why: multiple meanings in political reality
staging how: strategy, dramaturgy & analysis
staging power: government pr & executive communication
staging legitimacy: competence, trustworthiness & democracy
staging conflict: protest, opposition & scandal
staging the stage: media coverage of strategic communication
staging & counterstaging: multiple scripts & the framing contest
open stage: final paper presentations