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De-exceptionalizing Post-Truth and Right-Wing Populism: Political Economic, Theoretical, and Comparative Interventions

Sun, May 27, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton Old Town, Floor: M, Mozart I

Session Submission Type: Panel


Liberal democracy is in crisis. Increasingly, the global response appears to be a right-wing “populist international.” Right-wing leaders are polarizing their societies in unprecedented ways. Many are virtuous media performers. They express the most politically incorrect ideas, use refugees and immigrants for political bargaining, exert political pressure on the media, and provoke global civil society. Although the role of both news media and social media corporations in the rise of global right-wing populism were foregrounded following Donald Trump’s election and Brexit, this panel will aim to de-exceptionalize the rise of right-wing populism (Chakravartty & Roy, 2017) by drawing attention to the political economic logics behind the sensation and click driven media, pointing to research from the Global South that predate Trump and Brexit, and introduce a historical and conceptual framework to make sense of “post truth” phenomenon. In “The Structural Roots of Misinformation in the American Media System,” Victor Pickard invites us to reflect on the structural political economic dimensions of how America’s policy failures due to neutral perceptions about markets and digital technologies gave us “the misinformation society.” Bilge Yesil examines a constitutive form of the so-called port-truth era: conspiracy theories. In her comparative study of Russia and Turkey, Yesil specifically focuses on how conspiracy theories targeting the economic hegemony of the West serve to buttress ethnocentric political identities in the age of economic crisis. Jayson Harsin intervenes by introducing a cultural theory of post-truth politics to which emotional performance is central. Harsin interrogates the logics of contemporary media infusing political speech with the most aggressive and intimidating manners and invites scholars of political communication and mediatization to consider cultural practices and forms in their discussions of mediatization. In “Rumor Bombs of Turkey: Popular Cultural Sources of State Propaganda in Turkey,” Ergin Bulut examines Turkey’s popular forms of state propaganda and “rumor bombs” (Harsin, 2015) aiming to dominate contentious issues and historical events.

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