Posted by: slee3324 | October 10, 2011

Intersecting politics and pop culture

I am intrigued by Jenkin’s (2008) focus in chapter 6 on the use of new media technologies and popular culture strategies. Jenkins (2008) uses the example of presidential campaigns to depict the application of convergence in presidential politics and speaks about “a shift in the public’s role in the political process, bringing the realm of political discourse closer to the everyday life experiences of citizens” and ultimately “changing the ways people think about community and power so that they are able to mobilize collective intelligence to transform governance” (p. 219). In an era of media convergence and collective intelligence, and at the intersection of new media and old, organizations are diversifying their communication channels in ways that build greater influence among audiences.

How does the mass media influence consumers in a convergent world where change is constant and the future is unknown? Think about how you prefer to interact with politics and how much tolerance you have for politics to convene with your social life. How much are we as a society politically influenced in our own lives? How aware are you of political strategies integrated into popular culture through the movies you watch, the cartoons your children watch, the magazines and newspapers you subscribe to, or the places you live and work? Have you ever seen a happy meal toy in the figure of a presidential candidate? How does popular culture intersect with how the public interacts with politics? How is mass media changing in ways that support political influence through popular culture?

According to Jenkins (2008), diversifying current communication systems is politically important in order to grow the breadth of voices that can be heard thus blurring the lines between mass media and popular culture. New media is built on new principles that promote a changed sense in community and greater sense of public participation. With politics having less dependence on official experts and one-to-many communications, organizations are turning to grassroots fan communities to court their voters, creating movements that draw together thousands of people, and ultimately creating hybrid forms of popular culture that enable more participation in the democratic process. The public, in turn, applies its knowledge of popular culture to gain a greater sense of participation and movement to political action.

As organizations try to keep up with emerging media technologies, I am interested in knowing how they stay current with changing cultural norms and public preferences. Many thoughts cross my mind when thinking how influence is exercised both in the physical versus virtual world. Which one is better? Jenkins (2008) writes “consider what it means to exercise power in a virtual world when you have so little control over what happens to you in your everyday life” (p. 240). The virtual world enables everyone to have a voice, but is that voice equal between various audiences? Some would argue for or against depending on the circumstances.

I found it interesting when Jenkins (2008) noted “popular culture allows us to entertain alternative framings…we may be able to talk across our differences if we find commonalities through our fantasies. This is in the end another reason why popular culture matters politically because it doesn’t seem to be about politics at all” (p. 249-250). With the rise of new media, the inevitable journey through convergence, a shift in cultural norms, and an environment of communication overhaul, what really matters most to the public? Do organizations really understand the needs of their audiences and how best to engage them? How does politics play into mass media and shape popular culture? As Jenkins (2008) describes in Chapter 6, the emergent forces of new media will bring about new principles that will change the language of politics by integrating new forms of popular culture in order to shape public opinion.


Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.

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