American Civil Society

For this portion of the exam you will have to answer a total of three of the following questions, one from the first three, one from the second four, and a third of your choosing from any of the seven. For your exam you must answer one of this first set of three questions. According to Habermas, what is the public sphere? What is Habermas’ ideal speech situation (aka rational critical discourse) and what should result from it? Does rational critical discourse occur within our political media? If so, when and where (think about what particular media formats or outlets)? If not, why not? Did the recent presidential debates have a proclivity towards RCD? Why or why not?  What is the binary discourse of American civil society? How is this binary related to Habermas’ ideal vision of civil society?  In what ways can a political actor or institution be discussed utilizing these binaries? Describe an example in which these binaries are disseminated. Why, after an examination of the binary discourse present in American civil society, does Alexander conclude that we can never have a perfect civil society or public sphere?      Habermas argues that political communication must be rational in order to be effective.  On the other hand, Alexander and others argue that political communication is performative. What do they mean by this? (Think cultural scripts, drama, and recognizable narratives). Be sure to define the concept of performative rationality. Argue your position in reference to this debate. That is, by using examples from our media (be specific), answer these two pertinent questions: which type of political communication is more likely to occur?  In your opinion is one type of communication more ideal/desirable? Why? Which one do you think is more effective? Why?   For your exam must answer one of this second set of four questions. What is a political gaffe? Is understanding political gaffes important for political campaign coverage? Why? How are gaffes connected to the construction of authenticity? Be sure to describe the process by which gaffes are constructed. What are some of the communicative strategies used by politicians to mitigate a gaffe moment? Which strategy do you think is most effective? Lastly, if you worked on a campaign how would you administer this strategy? What is political polarization? How has political polarization shifted over the last couple of decades? Describe using examples. How is this process connected to media bias? Be sure to define and describe the type of media bias that is connected to political polarization. Lastly, what are echo chambers, and how are they connected to confirmation bias and political polarization? (Be sure to describe echo chambers and confirmation bias.)    There have been a number of recent changes in technology and policy that have altered the dissemination and impact of political advertisements. First, describe two of these changes and their impacts on contemporary political advertisements. Second, describe two strategies you would take to create an effective political advertisement. Lastly, describe an empirical example of an existent effective advertisement that used those strategies (link to the advertisement if possible).  Describe three characteristics of the troll community of 4chan. Connect these characteristics to at least three of the anxieties expressed by alt-right trolls. Describe these anxieties and why they are connected to the political positions of the alt-right. Next describe how these communities use bots and memes to signify their political positions and attempt to influence politicians and the public. (Be sure to define the concepts of memes and bots.)      One of the most important insights of the aesthetic public sphere paradigm is that entertainment media and serious political debate cannot be so easily separated. Utilizing this framework, select and describe a pop culture text or icon that emphasizes this social fact. That is, describe how this entertainment text or icon enters into “serious” political issues.  How can these fictional characters or celebrity personalities be used to take a political stance? Lastly, why does this further problematize the ubiquitous desire for RCD?

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