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On the Bookshelf (October 2022)

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AHC Research
On the Bookshelf
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This month in ‘On the Bookshelf’ we feature ‘Populist Communication: Ideology, Performance, Mediation′ by Dr Lone Sorensen (School of Media and Communication). This book was published in June 2021 with Palgrave Macmillan, and has just been released this autumn in paperback.

Populist Communication: Ideology, Performance, Mediation explores asks how can we make sense of the current age of global political disruption when populism leaves norms overturned and the future form of democracy unpredictable?

Political representatives are no longer elected for their experience and expertise but out of a desire for an ephemeral sense of authenticity, a direct connection to citizens, and the certainty of the truths they tell. But when populists project these ideas and claim to represent the citizenry, what is reality and what is strategic performance aimed to attract media attention?

This conceptually rich book explores the performative strategies of the populist politicians who disrupt the normative order with acts of ‘truth-telling’. It disentangles their complex use of media—from their appeal to news values through spectacular disruptions to sophisticated social media commentary—in repertoires of mediated performances. Based on vigorous empirical research in both established and transitional democracies, it develops a theoretical framework of populist communication in the new media environment.

Reviews:

“For Lone Sorensen, populism is what populism does, its distinctive character honed through performances of disruption, a politics of authenticity, and claims to speak for a singular idea of ‘the people’. Featuring rich case material, deft analysis of concepts and telling insights, this new book makes an invaluable contribution to the study of populist politics and our ideas of representation. Placing communication front and centre, it illuminates with real effectiveness the nature and challenges of populism in the early twenty-first century.”
“For Lone Sorensen, populism is what populism does, its distinctive character honed through performances of disruption, a politics of authenticity, and claims to speak for a singular idea of ‘the people’. Featuring rich case material, deft analysis of concepts and telling insights, this new book makes an invaluable contribution to the study of populist politics and our ideas of representation. Placing communication front and centre, it illuminates with real effectiveness the nature and challenges of populism in the early twenty-first century.” (Professor Michael Saward, Warwick University)“A vital book for making sense of populism in the here and now, Lone Sorensen’s Populist Communication: Ideology, Performance, Media sophisticatedly links theory, empirics and method to help the reader understand what populists do, how they do it, why people are attracted to it, and the fundamental role of media and performance in contemporary populism. Knocking down disciplinary walls with gusto, this book is sure to make a splash in the growing populism studies literature.”
“Although there is now a growing literature on populist political communication, there remains relatively little on the communication strategies and tactics of populist parties. Sorensen, in her admirable study, analyses the performances of two populist parties in established and transitional democracies, UKIP in the UK and Economic Freedom Fighters in South Africa, across different but connected media. In doing so this book makes a significant contribution to the development of a theory of populist communication.”
“In politics, truth can mean both accuracy and authenticity (and this is only one of the many ideas that makes this book an important step in the study of populism). If we understand this distinction not as a source of misunderstanding or as the basis for two political logics, but as the description of two academic virtues, this book realizes both of them: It is highly original, crosses frontiers and shows a passion for the most careful analysis, interpretation, and conceptualizations.”

About the Author:

Dr Sorensen is a Lecturer in Media and Communication. Her research focusses on Populism; Political performance; Political representation; Comparative study of political communication; Democratic listening; Democratisation and the media and Political truth-telling.

Her book, Populist Communication: Ideology, Performance, Mediationhas been awarded the 'Best Book Award 2022' by the Global Communication and Social Change Division of ICA. It impressed the judges so much that they added a special commendation in recognition of how rare it is for an Early Career Researcher to receive such an award in a field of established scholars.

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