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Mediated populism, culture and media form

Higgins, Michael (2017) Mediated populism, culture and media form. Palgrave Communications, 3 (3). ISSN 2055-1045

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Abstract

This comment seeks to identify some key concerns in the study of mediated populism. The paper highlights the relationship between populism and political conditions, noting that the weak party structures and non-conventional party-media relations that characterise populist actors applies across the political left and right, who engage strategically according to media conditions. In setting out the terms in which mediated populism operates, the paper stresses the turn to emotionality in media, with a particular prominence on the expression of aggressiveness. It links with the rise of participatory media, with an attendant shift in the style and form of language to characterise political discussion and influences on legitimate political speech. The paper then looks at the use of “fake news” as a means of positioning media within the discredited elite, warranting the easy dismissal of hostile content. While showing how the political and media environment provides fertile grounds for populism, and the extent to which populism is encouraged by media affordances, the article concludes by recommending the purposeful cultivation by media of alternative and proactive forms of inclusion and emotional engagement.