Mutual affordances: the dynamics between social media and populism

Media, Culture and Society 43 (3):551-560 (2021)
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In a recent contribution to this journal Paolo Gerbaudo has argued that an ‘elective affinity’ exists between social media and populism. The present article expands on Gerbaudo’s argument and examines various dimensions of this affinity in further detail. It argues that it is helpful to conceptually reframe the proposed affinity in terms of affordances. Four affordances are identified which make the social media ecology relatively favourable to both-right as well as left-wing populism, compared to the pre-social media ecology. These affordances are neither stable nor uniquely fixed: they change in concordance with ongoing technological developments and in response to political events. Even though these dynamics can be quick-moving, a fairly stable alliance of interests between social media and populism seems to have emerged over the last decade. This raises the plausibility that as long as the current social media ecology persists, populist tendencies will remain prevalent in politics.



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Jeroen Hopster
Utrecht University

References found in this work

On Populist Reason.Ernesto Laclau - 2006 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (4):832-835.

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