Political communication in the West in the 20th century
Time: 14:45 - 16:15
Location: Keeley Street
This course has now started
Course Code: HPC129
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
In the late 1970s London based advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi was tasked with running the Conservative’s election campaign which propelled Margaret Thatcher into government. The arrival of commercial marketers and advertisers in the arena of party politics marked a watershed moment in modern political communications. Yet, the need for professional advice had been recognized much earlier, when universal suffrage required the political elites in western democracies to upgrade their communications efforts in an attempt to hold the empowered masses at bay. In the 1920s Edward Bernays coined the term “public relations” and adopted ideas previously generated by his uncle, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, to manipulate citizens` collective behaviour. In class we will cast light at the trajectory of communications strategies and tactics in the course of a century, highlight the interface between leaders and electorate, introduce to students the innovators and elaborate on the flip-side of public information campaigns by critically analysing the concept of propaganda that featured most prominently in totalitarian regimes. In brief, the course reviews the historical evolution of strategies that deploy images, messages and technology with a view to shape political narratives which can ultimately inform and distract, assist or mislead citizens.
What will we cover?
- Differences and commonalities: Public information, public relations, political communication and propaganda
- Use and abuse of political communications in the 20th century
- Strategies and tactics deployed in government communications and public information
- Successes and failures in election and referenda campaigns
- The role of the media in reporting politics and deciphering messages
- celebrity politics and personal branding.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- show awareness of the origins of strategic communications in the political arena
- appreciate how politicians and voters interact
- assess the role of images and language in campaigns
- understand the rationale of strategies and tactics deployed in political public relations
- critique the manipulative power of political communicators
- assess the role of the media in holding political parties and government to account.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Some background knowledge about current affairs would be useful. There will be core readings provided to students before lessons so that everyone can get familiarised with the themes/issues to be explored and discussed in each session. As with most of our history and current affairs courses, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
A mixture of lectures/ short presentations by the tutor, Q&A, quizzes, pair/group work, and class discussions. A comprehensive bibliography will be given at the beginning of the course. Also, (brief) reading materials will be handed out at the end of each session. Participants will be expected to read short texts, and/or watch documentaries/short videos, and/or listen to short podcasts about political communications, propaganda and campaigning before and after lessons. Please note, that as the course progresses, participants are encouraged to take a more active part in the course – this will be achieved through a mixture of smaller group work but also class discussions.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
A list of further readings will be provided to participants. The list will include suggestions of books to purchase, as well as of free resources such as newspapers, podcasts, online articles, and videos. While you are not required to buy any of these, you may wish to purchase some books, subscribe to specialised magazines, or attend talks or webinars on the issue of politial communication management in order to deepen and broaden the subject knowledge gained in this course. However, this is not a requirement.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HPC130 Current British politics
HPC45 More current affairs
HPC46 More current affairs
HPC112 American politics for beginners.
Christian Schnee studied history, politics as well as public relations at Universities in England, Scotland and the USA. He holds a teaching degree and completed a doctorate in political communication at the University of Hull. After graduating Christian embarked on a career in German politics - serving as spokesperson to the governing party, special advisor to state government and departmental head for a leading European think tank. Subsequently, he returned to the UK as senior lecturer with the University of Worcester. After a stint of seven years in the West Midlands Christian relocated to London - giving in to the temptation of observing Westminster politics at close range. As senior lecturer at Greenwich University he has developed and led classes in public affairs and public relations. Meanwhile he broadened his teaching portfolio and now teaches British and European politics to American University students studying in London. Over the years Christian has written a number of articles and chapters and produced more than half a dozen books with leading academiacademic publishers. The topics of his pupublications pivot on European politics and political history.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.