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

This course investigates the power of news journalism to persuade audiences and shape public perception. It is designed especially for the study abroad context, examining global news as a form of mass persuasion about international politics, more than domestic politics or election campaigns. Understanding mass persuasion requires delving into the psychology of mass audiences and national cultures, and even into our own minds. It also requires looking critically at the industries and technologies of news journalism as vehicles for mass persuasion, and analysing global news reporting to expose the most typical persuasive techniques used in shaping political views and values. Three categories comprise the main units of this course:

  • The minds of news consumers,
  • The industries of news production, and
  • The texts of news reporting.

Global political topics covered range from conflict and security, to development and inequality, and humanitarian aid and human rights. This course will likely raise many questions for students about their political identity and values, and how deeply they may be bound up with ideas about nation and national identity. Fundamentally, this is a course on political epistemology—how we know what we think we know about international politics and the part one’s nation plays in it. Like travelling abroad, much of the work involves consistently putting oneself in the position of “the other,” examining one’s own assumptions from the outside looking in. This shifting of position, as we will see, also poses a challenge to the very notion of “objectivity,” the supposed gold-standard of professional journalism. Is there a universal definition of what it means to be “objective”?

Department: Political Science

Location: London

Semesters: Fall, Spring

Credits: 3