Free «Mediating Politics» Essay Sample

Mediating Politics

Modern forms of communication have seen the use of social media and the internet pick up in many parts of the world. As such, the society has been transformed in terms of its cultural and political structures. Most of the social changes that have been witnessed in different parts of the world, Britain included, can be attributed to the internet and social media. Since Britain and the rest of the world transitioned to the intensive use of the internet and social media, more and more people continue to be engaged in political issues. Media coverage on political matters has also increased over the years, with many people terming it as spectacular. Therefore, there is a strong, positive relationship between the internet, social media and contemporary politics. This paper critically explores the correlation between the internet, social networks and the current politics

Ways in Which the Internet Expands Contemporary Mediated Public Life and Its Consequences

The internet has gone a long way to expand public life, because through it more people have been enabled to engage in issues that affect the public, such as politics. The internet has made people more accessible by making communication between and among them easier. It expands contemporary public life through creating new avenues through which the people are connected. The connection enables the public to communicate and share information that is social by nature. The internet has increased the speed at which information is shared among people. It has also succeeded in bridging distance constrains among humans. Furthermore, many people can access the information that is made available by others.

The expansion of contemporary public life by the internet has come with consequences that have affected virtually all sectors, which include, but are not limited to politics, education, business and medicine (Ausserhofer& Maireder2013). In politics for instance, the internet promotes democracy by creating space for people’s voices to be heard. As a result, public participation in politics has increased significantly. The role of the internet in business has also contributed greatly towards the expansion of contemporary public life. Many business transactions are carried out through the internet (Fuchs 2013). In fact, business through the internet has been projected to grow further in the coming years. It enables businesses to access new markets, which is something that could not have happened without the internet. Along with that, this enables people to access a great deal of information that makes them more informed about the society. For this reason, the lives of many famous people, such as politicians and celebrities are no longer private, because information about them is all over the internet.

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The Range of Political Uses and Implications of Social Networking Sites, Blog Sites and Political Apps

Social networking sites provide an avenue for the different actors to interact in, when it comes to politics. Political institutions and politicians have embraced the use of social networking sites because they use them to get information pertaining to the interests of the public and to establish support networks. Political parties and/or politicians also use social networking sites to raise funds and to disseminate information to their supporters and potential voters. Political institutions and politicians also use blogs to engage in discussions with the public. Members are usually allowed to post their comments on the discussions that appear on the blogs. Political institutions also use political applications to access a myriad of political information. The political apps vary and so do the purposes they serve. For instance, PollTracker is a political app that enables people to access polling statistics and detailed breakdowns of the same data (Fuchs, 2013). Countable is also a popular political app. Through this app, people can access information about the activities of their representatives.

 
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The increased use of social networking sites, blog sites and political apps implies that the way political activities are conducted, has changed a lot. Different actors in politics continue to use the different social media platforms and political apps as avenues of reaching out to other people, as well as platforms of opinion formation. Consequently, the public is more informed about political developments. The government of Britain is one such country that has embraced the use of social networking sites to reach out to the public, which is reaping the rewards. The British government has embarked on the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to capture public attention so that the citizens get more involved in the country’s governance. The British government is doing this in a bid to win the public’s trust.

The Political Uses Made of Websites and Social Media by Political Parties

Political parties and pressure groups are at the forefront, when it comes to the use of websites and social media for political purposes. The use of websites and social media has particularly enabled the Conservative party in Britain to register success, as far as politics is concerned. The use of websites and social media by the Conservatives Party is largely influenced by the belief that the internet and social media platforms greatly influence the attitudes of the citizens and hence, the voters. This is a trend that has been copied from the 2008 American elections. The Conservative Party saw the need to reach out to people, since they felt that the campaign period is not long enough to enable them to reach out to every member of the public.

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The Conservative Party in Britain has put a lot of emphasis on the use of its website and emails, as well as different social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. However, the use of social media has only registered significant development among the people who fall within the 18-24 years age bracket. About forty-three percent of this group engages the party on trending issues. The number is still low, because the party mainly uses its website and social networking sites to disseminate information. This has enabled the Conservative party to influence voters in the recent elections and to mobilize them to appear in large numbers during elections. This notwithstanding, the party should do more in interacting with the voters through social media.

The Relationship between Politics and Celebrities

Recent developments have led to situations where politicians are viewed as celebrities. The involvement of celebrities in politics has also increased. The relationship between them is evidently strong since politics have changed and are now largely influenced by the image of the politicians. The current political class mainly consists of individuals who are products of publicity in the media. As such, the politicians are viewed as commodities, as opposed to democratic leaders (Craig 2014). On the other hand, celebrities are currently being used to increase the popularity of politicians. This makes their relationship stronger, because the two parties benefit from and support each other. Many politicians have resorted to courting and using celebrities in their campaigns.

While the relationship between politics and celebrities has grown strong over the years, democracy has continuously been compromised in the process. Figures, such as Jeremy Clarkson, have expressed their interests in politics. Such famous people target to capitalize on stardom, to lure voters. On the other hand, politicians, such as Tony Blair and David Cameron, have emerged as celebrities in the political arena (Craig 2014). These individuals have taken advantage of the celebrity status that they have gained, to establish themselves as powerful politicians. The influence of celebrities in politics has resulted in the celebritization of politics. This is a product of the changes that have been witnessed in the world, and has transformed the engagement of the people in political issues. The ultimate effect of the celebritization of politics has been on democracy, which has greatly been impaired (Craig 2014).

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The Mediation of Politics via Television

The media, most especially television, has established itself as an information provider on matters to do with politics. Television has particularly emerged as one of the major platforms where mediation of politics happens, because it is one of the main providers of information. Political parties and politicians use television largely to reach out to the public. They also use television to sell their policies and ideologies, which go a long way to establish their public images (Fowler & Hagar 2013). The images that politicians build are largely dependent on the marketing strategy they adopt in using television to sell out their policies and ideologies. Television creates a bridge between the politicians and the public. It also plays a crucial part in the mediation of politics, because being a major source of political information goes a long way in shaping the political conceptions of the people. Therefore, the involvement of television in political activities cannot be substituted by other sources of political information, but rather complemented (Fowler & Hagar 2013).

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Politicians, such as Tony Blair and David Cameron, gained popularity because of the way their campaigns were covered on television (Craig 2014). Through it, they were portrayed as celebrities who won the hearts of most of the voters. Apart from the image that politicians establish, the fact that most of the political activities are covered on television, has made the television play a mediation role between the political class and the public in Britain, as well as all over the world. The people, for instance, can follow parliament proceedings that are usually covered on television. Coverage of parliamentary proceedings goes a long way to make the public interested in the political affairs of the country (Hinton &Hjorth 2013). In addition, parliamentary proceedings coverage makes the political leaders seem more accountable to the citizens. Norman John-Stevas, a politician in the Conservative Party, also supported the involvement of the television in covering political activities, because he believed that recent media platforms could not succeed in educating the public on issues surrounding politics and the governance of the nation by the elected leaders (Craig 2014).

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Media Focus on Individual Political Leaders

Technological developments have seen the use of media, as a means of sharing information, take root in all parts of the world. The personalities of different politicians form part of the content that is shared in the media. The celebritization of politics has created a political class that is made up of a good number of politicians, who are viewed as celebrities. This has gone a long way to make politicians more aware of their personality and their actions, to avoid appearing in the media for the wrong reasons. It is however unfortunate, that in focusing on individual politicians the media tends to concentrate more on the politicians’ ability to identify with prevailing cultural trends, as opposed to the leaders’ capacity to discharge their duties. This trend has made some politicians to pay attention on their personality because they want to identify with recent cultural trends. Media focus on individual politicians has targeted aspects that have diverted the attention of the public from the policies that politicians present, because people seem to be more interested in knowing the politicians’ personalities (Eliasoph 2013).

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Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is one such politician who had a rough time when it came to the media focus that he was subjected to. Whereas Gordon Brown performed well in some situations and badly in others, the media tended to put in a lot of emphasis in situations where he did not do what was expected of him (Baxter & Marcella 2013). For instance, Gordon Brown did a commendable job in promoting development at the international front and in fighting against poverty. However, the media did not pay attention on such good deeds. Instead, the media focused on the situations in which he did contrary to what was expected of him, like when he took time to talk about X Factor, yet he could not find time to talk about the Lockerbie bombing (Eliasoph 2013). On the other hand, media coverage on Tony Blair portrayed him as a celebrity who was popular among the people. This prompted Tony Blair to focus a lot on pleasing the people, as he strived to remain popular. This led him into wasting much of his first term in office as the British Prime Minister (Eliasoph 2013).

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Conclusion

The use of media in political activities highlights the importance of media, especially the internet and television, in political processes. The internet, for instance, has expanded contemporary mediated public life. This has specifically been the case because the internet bridges the distance constrain to bring people closer so that they can share information about and with each other over the internet. The use of social networking sites, blog sites and political apps has also taken root in most parts of the world, Britain included. Political parties and politicians use the three avenues to reach out to and interact with the public. This move has gone a long way to increase the participation of the public in politics. The Conservative Party is one such political party that puts a lot of emphasis in the use of its website and social media to reach out to the public. In the face of the intensified use of the media, the relationship between politics and celebrities has strengthened. Media focus on individual politicians has created politicians such as Tony Blair, who are viewed as celebrities.

 

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