Monday, February 28, 2011

Governing and the public

The section of the reading that stuck out to me this week was when Hart explained how critical discourse can be restricted by television consumption of politics. Hart said, "heavy television watchers know precious little about how they are governed" (p. 12). This claim illustrates a problem with consumer politics in that people do not critically evaluate the "how" of policy options, only their impacts. The implication of this is that television viewership actually constrains opportunities for critical discourse about governmental function. A talking point in the public sphere could be about how Congress spends money in specific instances, but instead seems to blend into a conversation about how spending in general is either good or bad. The nuance of the discussion is lost in the generalization. Knowing how you are governed and how that governance could be changed for your benefit would greatly alter the larger political conversation, so the question I have becomes: do networked publics offer a solution to this generalization brought about by televised media. While the internet may be too vast for any one person to know everything, doesn't the idea of a networked group at least open up the potential for the sort of "attention" to a specific political instance that could alter discourse? Whether small or large scale, I think the potential of networked publics may offer some solutions to the problems Hart identified.

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