Parasocial Politics: Audiences, Pop Culture, and Politics

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9780739183892: Parasocial Politics: Audiences, Pop Culture, and Politics
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The popularity of cable news, satire, documentaries, and political blogs suggest that people are often absorbing and dissecting direct political messages from informational media. But entertainment media also discusses the important political issues of our time, though not as overtly. Nonetheless, consumers still learn, debate, and form opinions on important political issues through their relationship with entertainment media. While many scholarly books examine these political messages found in popular culture, very few examine how actual audiences read these messages. Parasocial Politics explores how consumers form complex relationships with media texts and characters, and how these readings exist in the nexus between real and fictional worlds. This collection of empirical studies uses various methodologies, including surveys, experiments, focus groups, and mixed methods, to analyze how actual consumers interpret the texts and the overt and covert political messages encoded in popular culture.

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About the Author:

Jason Zenor is assistant professor of communication studies at State University of New York-Oswego.

Review:

Parasocial Politics offers scholars and students of media audiences a well-rounded collection of original research studies from a variety of different methodological perspectives. It avoids the stale debates about audience autonomy by focusing on the phenomenology of audience activity—the ways in which audiences leverage their media experiences to help navigate their social and political world. This collection makes a valuable contribution to the field of audience studies and popular culture by skillfully linking audience interpretations of popular media to forms of political, racial, and religious identity. (John Sullivan, Muhlenberg College)

Jason Zenor has compiled an impressive and very timely collection of studies packed with ideas about the potential for entertainment—and entertainers—to influence political opinion. Each chapter offers insight into the ways we understand and communicate political meanings that are embedded in the media products we consume. This book will, I hope, inspire many more research projects on this important topic. (Patricia Phalen, George Washington University)

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