Defying expectations: what leader insurgencies reveal about media and party incapacity in the time of ‘audience democracy’

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Political communication and citizen engagement have been impacted by crises in both political parties and conventional media models. This article contends that the confluence of these crises has been insufficiently understood, and that this lack of understanding depends upon a third element: the dissolution of a ‘holding culture’, a sense of the ‘rules of the game’ that has constituted the ground on which parties and the media operated and generated the imaginative space for constituting community. This dissolution might be represented as resistance to a now discredited political class, once constituted by ‘old’ political and media elites, and promising a new culture – with the potential for parties to be more responsive to ‘the people’, and for a more diversified and representative media. By looking at case studies of leadership insurgency in parties and the impact of new media in creating the discursive conditions for their emergence, this article explores the realities in relation to political communication and democratic engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
JournalMedia International Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • algorithmic
  • audience democracy
  • democracy imagined community
  • electoral-professional parties
  • mass media
  • mass parties
  • social media

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