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Engaged disengagement as an act of prevention: on the legitimacy of a celebrity as political provocateur

Olivier Driessens UGent (2012) Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis, Proceedings.
abstract
In April 2010, following a protracted political crisis, the Belgian federal government fell. A few days later, famous singer and television maker Stijn Meuris, who never made a secret of his sympathy for the Social-Democrats, surprisingly announced on his Facebook-profile that he refused to go voting in the next elections, although this is compulsory. His provocation was immediately picked up by the mass media, resulting in a wide public debate involving politicians, media professionals, experts and citizens. In this paper, I will analyze this debate by addressing two main issues. First, I explain how Meuris’ media provocation can be seen as an act of disengaged engagement, subverting the widespread disaffection and apathy with a political act that is at the same time apolitical. Meuris’ announcement can thus be analyzed as a special case of “prevention” in Rosanvallon’s counter-democracy theory, here not as criticism on policy, but exactly the lack thereof. Indeed, he denounces, among other issues, government’s bad management of public institutions or its failure to take action against multinationals that are not paying taxes—in sum, what Crouch calls post-democratic politics. Second, I focus on the responses by the elites (politicians, media professionals and experts) to Meuris’ media provocation. Specifically, I analyze their discursive strategies that deconstruct or (re-)construct the legitimacy of politicians, of elections as democratic tool, and of Meuris as (celebrity) political actor. Concluded, this analysis contributes to our understanding of both celebrity political involvement and the possibilities for (individualized) activist practices to challenge post-democratic politics.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
in
Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis, Proceedings
pages
9 pages
publisher
Ghent University, Department of Communication studies
place of publication
Ghent, Belgium
conference name
Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis
conference location
London, UK
conference start
2012-05-03
conference end
2012-05-03
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C1
copyright statement
I have retained and own the full copyright for this publication
id
2997633
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2997633
date created
2012-09-21 22:06:19
date last changed
2012-09-26 10:25:38
@inproceedings{2997633,
  abstract     = {In April 2010, following a protracted political crisis, the Belgian federal government fell. A few days later, famous singer and television maker Stijn Meuris, who never made a secret of his sympathy for the Social-Democrats, surprisingly announced on his Facebook-profile that he refused to go voting in the next elections, although this is compulsory. His provocation was immediately picked up by the mass media, resulting in a wide public debate involving politicians, media professionals, experts and citizens. In this paper, I will analyze this debate by addressing two main issues. First, I explain how Meuris{\textquoteright} media provocation can be seen as an act of disengaged engagement, subverting the widespread disaffection and apathy with a political act that is at the same time apolitical. Meuris{\textquoteright} announcement can thus be analyzed as a special case of {\textquotedblleft}prevention{\textquotedblright} in Rosanvallon{\textquoteright}s counter-democracy theory, here not as criticism on policy, but exactly the lack thereof. Indeed, he denounces, among other issues, government{\textquoteright}s bad management of public institutions or its failure to take action against multinationals that are not paying taxes---in sum, what Crouch calls post-democratic politics. Second, I focus on the responses by the elites (politicians, media professionals and experts) to Meuris{\textquoteright} media provocation. Specifically, I analyze their discursive strategies that deconstruct or (re-)construct the legitimacy of politicians, of elections as democratic tool, and of Meuris as (celebrity) political actor. Concluded, this analysis contributes to our understanding of both celebrity political involvement and the possibilities for (individualized) activist practices to challenge post-democratic politics.},
  author       = {Driessens, Olivier},
  booktitle    = {Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis, Proceedings},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {London, UK},
  pages        = {9},
  publisher    = {Ghent University, Department of Communication studies},
  title        = {Engaged disengagement as an act of prevention: on the legitimacy of a celebrity as political provocateur},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Driessens, Olivier. 2012. “Engaged Disengagement as an Act of Prevention: On the Legitimacy of a Celebrity as Political Provocateur.” In Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication In/of a Time of Crisis, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies.
APA
Driessens, O. (2012). Engaged disengagement as an act of prevention: on the legitimacy of a celebrity as political provocateur. Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis, Proceedings. Presented at the Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis, Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies.
Vancouver
1.
Driessens O. Engaged disengagement as an act of prevention: on the legitimacy of a celebrity as political provocateur. Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication in/of a time of crisis, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies; 2012.
MLA
Driessens, Olivier. “Engaged Disengagement as an Act of Prevention: On the Legitimacy of a Celebrity as Political Provocateur.” Articulating Alternatives: Agents, Spaces and Communication In/of a Time of Crisis, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies, 2012. Print.