Foundation Essay: For this paper you need to write 4 pages (quality is more important than quantity) defining, describing and detailing what “political communication” means to you, with an emphasis on a global perspective. You also need to address what advocacy and citizenship mean to you, and how those concepts relate to political communication. You may consult researched sources for this, but avoid dictionaries and websites such as Wikipedia. The paper should be double-spaced.
Political communication refers to written and verbal political rhetoric and discussions on public resources, official sanctions, legislative processes, and executive decisions. In some cases, the term “political language” is used to refer to political communication. This creates the impression that political communication is not restricted to rhetoric; it also covers paralinguistic aspects such as boycotts and protests undertaken to achieve a political objective. At the same time, it is common for political communication to be defined based on the intentions of participants to influence the prevailing political environment. The aim of this paper is to provide a definition and description of political communication. The paper also defines the notions of advocacy and citizenship and how they relate to political communication.
According to McNair, a critical factor that makes any communication political in nature is not the origin of the message but rather its content and purpose (4). Therefore, any attempt to define political communication must address the important dimension of intentionality. On this basis, one may define politics as purposeful communication about political issues. On this basis, one may provide a highlight of forms of communication that may qualify to be classified as political communication.
To begin with, any form of communication that a politician or a political actor undertakes with a view to achieve specific objectives is regarded as political communication. The same case applies to communication that is addressed to politicians and political actors by non-politicians such as opinion leaders, commentators, newspaper columnists, and voters. Another instance of political communication occurs whenever media discussions of political issues are presented in editorials, news features, and other media platforms.
McNair argues that all political discussions should be incorporated in a definition of political communication (4). Such communication occurs not just through verbal and written messages but also visual aids. When these composite elements are brought together into a single package, they lead to the establishment of a political identity. In most cases, this political identity differs from that which may be promoted through interpersonal political communication. Therefore, discourse on political communication often deviates from those political discussions that people engage in behind closed doors in parties, at home, in bars, and in government negotiations. This essentially means that it is possible for some forms of communications that influence the political process of a country to be excluded from the contemporary definition of political communication.
The concept of “advocacy” plays a critical role in understanding the nature of political communication. Advocacy is the practice of supporting, pleading for, and recommending a certain position in relation to the interests of the citizens and the prevailing political reality. Advocacy is one of the ways through which political communication is undertaken. In the contemporary world, advocacy is in many situations synonymous with the actions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Many NGOs tend to speak out against actions that are not in the best interest of the public. The advocacy role is normally based on the understanding that the prevailing political reality may discourage politicians from pursuing certain objectives simply because of the need to be politically correct.
Through advocacy, it is possible for NGOs to articulate and represent the interest of the citizens of a country. Therefore, advocacy is an important aspect of political communication at local, national, and international levels. To appreciate this importance, one only needs to look at the numerous ways in which the efforts of advocacy groups around the world have influenced the realization of positive outcomes in political realms. Moreover, when advocacy groups come together to achieve a common purpose, their views and opinions gain more political traction. In other words, advocacy plays an important role in coercing political actors to embrace not just political communication but also political responsibility.
Today, the role of advocacy has become even more important because of the changing role of the nation-state in the era of globalization. Many of the challenges that the world is encountering transcend national boundaries. Therefore, problem-solving in this regard requires a transnational approach. Many nation-states are unwilling to stick to the issues that matter because of vested interests. This leaves the world in the hands of interest groups that genuinely seek to influence political change with a view to solve serious problems such as disease, global warming, food insecurity, and money laundering. In today’s information age, advocacy is an excellent platform for presenting important facts that can inspire positive change to the whole world.
Moreover, advocacy always turns out to be an integral component of political communication whenever there is a need for criticism to be presented based on alternative perspectives. In many cases, the expectations of citizens tend to listen more to advocacy groups than to politicians whenever they need to gain a better understanding of normative aspects of issues ranging from racism to birth control (Jordan and van Tuijl 2058).
The concept of “citizenship” is also of utmost importance in all discussions on political communication. All political communications are targeted at the citizens who live within a specific political jurisdiction. Indeed, the objective of all political communications is to influence policies that ultimately affect the lives citizens. Mueller defines a citizen as “any individual who has a share in the process of ruling as well as the process of being ruled” (110). This way, an element of privilege is conferred upon the idea of citizenship. To protect, safeguard, and maintain this privilege, the citizen is expected to enjoy certain rights as well as to undertake certain duties and responsibilities.
In simply terms, citizenship is the state of being a member of a specific country as well as the process of exercising the rights, privileges, duties, and responsibilities of such membership. Evidently, the concept of citizenship is closely related to the political process of a country. For instance, only a citizen of a country can participate in an election. This means that political leaders must draft all their political communications in such a way that they first and foremost appeal to as many citizens as possible. Moreover, throughout history, citizenship has maintained links with aspects of democracy, justice, and liberty. It has also been at the heart of the debate of what the rights and responsibilities of a person in society should be. Therefore, politicians are compelled to address all these issues in their efforts to gain support and get elected into office.
During political communication, efforts must always be made to ensure that citizenship rights are not violated. Today, the rise of the information age has led to the emergence of the notion of global citizenship. Global citizenship continues to influence political events around the world in the information age mainly because of rapid growth in the scope of political consumerism. In this consumerism, policy choices are highly personalized but they form the foundation of political interactions among global citizens. This implies that regardless of geographical positioning, those who come up with political messages must be careful not to violate the rights of global citizens. Such violations might trigger a strong wave of protests by political actors in different parts of the world.
Jordan, Lisa. and van Tuijl, Peter. “Political Responsibility in Transnational NGO Advocacy.”World Development, 28.12 (2000): 2051–2065.
McNair, Brian. An Introduction to Political Communication (Fifth Edition). New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.
Mueller, Dennis. “Defining Citizenship.” Theoretical Inquiries in Law, 3.1 (2002): 108-126.