Journal article: Participatory Propaganda

07Jan19

My essay on participative propaganda Medien und Partizipation. Zwischen Distributionsapparat und partizipativer Propaganda is now available at the online journal Kommunikation@Gesellschaft. It is part of a special edition on participation, edited by Marion Näser-Lather and Barbara Frischling, and it is hosted by the Social Science Open Access Repository. It is in German, here is an English abstract.

This article examines the concept of participation in the media context by bringing it into dialogue with its shadow concept of “propaganda.” It argues that propaganda forms the antithesis to a democratic political understanding of participation. Its starting point is the apparent absence of participation in the context of classical mass communication theory, which, however, had to move away from its original culture-pessimistic understanding of the mass in order to create space for a more active and complex public concept. At the same time, a series of theories has emerged which sees participation as a property of the media apparatus, i.e. of the technical medium itself, and the social structure of its production. Both theoretical strands converge in the context of the digitally networked media, where propaganda and participation enter into a new relationship with each other and the users, in which the separation of the two terms loses its naturalness. Cases of participatory propaganda are “trending” and “popularity” as bandwagons on social media.