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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 par-ticipation 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 norma-tive democratic theory, that there needs to be a capacity for citizens to be co-authors of their laws. Political consumerism is evaluated from two perspec-tives, 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 in-creased 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
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-219253OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-219253DiVA: diva2:698780
The 7th International Political Marketing Conference, Stockholm University School of Business, Stockholm, 19-20 September 2013.
Available from: 2014-02-25 Created: 2014-02-25 Last updated: 2014-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Wejryd, Johan
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Department of Government
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