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Advertising vs Public Autonomy: How Advertising’s Promotion of Consumption Can't Contribute to Democratic Legitimacy
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Commercial advertising aims at making beholders act as consumers. This paper is concerned with whether this fact has implications for political participation and democratic legitimacy. The claim that one may participate in politics by consuming is put forward by scholars studying political consum-erism, sometimes also with an alleged potential to compensate for decreasing participation in democracy's formal as well as informal spheres. The paper offers a normative account of political consumerism, guided by Jürgen Habermas' concept of public autonomy, i.e. the notion implicit in any normative democratic theory, that there needs to be a capacity for citizens to be co-authors of their laws. Political consumerism is evaluated from two perspectives, firstly as a mechanism for decision-making, secondly as a part of an informal, communicative sphere with the potential to inform and feed into formal decision-making. It will be argued that neither of these functions of political consumerism is capable of contributing to public autonomy or increased democratic legitimacy. The upshot of this is that although political consumerism may be virtuous, affect political particimation in plenty of ways, as well as have an impact on real rights of real people, it should not be regarded as a source of democratic legitimacy. Thereby, the same goes for advertising's essential promotion of consumption: It might affect political participation, but hardly in ways that contribute to democratic legitimacy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
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Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-209647OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-209647DiVA: diva2:658820
7th International Political Marketing Conference, Stockholm, September 19-20 2013
Available from: 2013-10-23 Created: 2013-10-23 Last updated: 2013-10-23

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