Political comedy, audience engagement and citizenship
The PhD project is called “Political comedy, audience engagement and citizenship”, and the context is the democratic deficit in western democracies among younger citizens (cf. Dahlgren 2009; Buckingham 2000); shrinking interest in traditional news among these citizens (Hill 2007); and a growing interest (from audiences and scholars) in political comedy (Jones 2010). How political comedy functions is one discussion among scholars and critics; a problem identified is that humour easily can be misunderstood (Marc 2009). Corner et al recently made a typography with four forms of political comedy; raillery, mockery, satire and spoofing; and three primary functions; imitative, descriptive and argumentative. Some ask if political comedy makes audiences politically cynical (cf. Dahlgren 2009). Research on how audiences actually understand political comedy is limited, with a few exceptions (cf. Perks 2012; Gray 2008). Political comedy is inherently hybrid; audiences’ modes of engagement potentially vary. It connects entertainment to politics in a very explicit way – as opposed to the more implicit way often found in infotainment. Research questions concern modes of engagement, and the potential civic force of various forms of political comedy. This type of comedy comes in different forms – popular Swedish examples include radio programmes like Tankesmedjan and television talk shows like Breaking News, but the range is greater; sit-coms, stand-up, sketch programmes etc. Focus is on the audience; what reasons do audience members have for engaging with political comedy? How do they categorize it in terms of genre; and connect it with a personal political identity (or lack thereof)? Mainly Swedish examples and audiences will be studied, though British or American audiences may be included. The main method is interviews, focusing on young adults (ages 18-30). Genre analysis and other qualitative methods, such as observations in live settings, will be included too. References Dahlgren, P. (2009). Media and Political Engagement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hill, A. (2007). Restyling Factual TV. London: Routledge. Gray, J. (2008). Television Entertainment. New York: Routledge. Jones, J. P. (2010). Entertaining politics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Marc, D. (2009). “Foreword” in Gray, J., Jones, J. P. & Thompson, E. (ed) Satire TV. New York: NY Press. Perks, L. G. (2012). “Three Satiric Television Decoding Positions”, Communication Studies, 63 (3), 290-308.