PSC315 Politics and Media: Mass Persuasion (Fall, Spring)

How does news shape perception and belief? When it comes to politics, the stakes are high. What people believe to be true or important impacts elections, the allocation of resources, laws and policies, and the actions of nation-states in the world arena. And for the general public, news is the primary source of information about politics. Anxiety about ‘fake news’ exposes our vulnerability: for democracies to work, the public needs to be able to trust news outlets, especially when the story, headline or meme is shared by trusted friends on social media platforms like Facebook. This course studies the ways news media across all platforms persuade mass audiences, and how techniques of mass persuasion influence views, policies and actions of national governments, particularly the UK in comparison with the US, on global issues. We use media and critical theory to examine the functions of language, image, authority, narrative and ideology. We then apply these tools of persuasion not only to analysing existing news but also to imagine and create different news campaigns on selected global issues –wars and military conflicts, humanitarian crises, development and aid, the environment and natural resources, cyberwarfare, and others. The course ends with a collective reflection on ‘what is a country?’ and how political news might pursue a global agenda that transcends national bias.

Department: Political Science

Location: London

Semesters: Fall, Spring

Credits: 3