Skip to content

Political agency and communication

January 25, 2010

Downing, John (1996) Internationalizing Media Theory. London: Sage.
Gledhill, John (2000) Power and its Disguises. London: Pluto.

p. x. According to Downing, questions of state, of totalitarian systems, of political activism, etc, have often been studied without reference to communication, ‘as though politics consisted of mute pieces on a chessboard’.

On reading this passage I was reminded of Gledhill’s point about Bourdieu’s theory of the political field. Gledhill argues that Bourdieu’s use of his notion of habitus in the study of politics is problematic because it sees humans as being programmed through socialisation and downplays the role of communication in the activities of political agents.

How do we account [if we use the notion of habitus] for the unusually persuasive nature of the ‘messages’ of certain prophets and party leaders at particular moments in time, and for the fact that the same community (say French industrial workers) can be mobilized by communists in one period and racists and fascists in another? (Gledhill 2000: 141)

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: