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Celebrity Politics

Celebrity Politics

Mark Wheeler

ISBN: 978-0-745-65248-1 August 2013 Polity 240 Pages


In Stock



In this new book, Mark Wheeler offers the first in-depth analysis of the history, nature and global reach of celebrity politics today.

Celebrity politicians and politicized celebrities have had a profound impact upon the practice of politics and the way in which it is now communicated. New forms of political participation have emerged as a result and the political classes have increasingly absorbed the values of celebrity into their own PR strategies. Celebrity activists, endorsers, humanitarians and diplomats also play a part in reconfiguring politics for a more fragmented and image-conscious public arena.

In academic circles, celebrity may be viewed as a ‘manufactured product’; one fabricated by media exposure so that celebrity activists are no more than ‘bards of the powerful.’ Mark Wheeler, however, provides a more nuanced critique contending that both celebrity politicians and politicized stars should be defined by their ‘affective capacity’ to operate within the public sphere. This timely book will be a valuable resource for students of media and communication studies and political science as well as general readers keen to understand the nature and reach of contemporary celebrity culture.
1. Celebrity Politics in an era of Late Modernity
2. A Historical Analysis of Celebrity Politics: The American Experience
3. The Mediatization of Celebrity Politics
4. Celebrity Politicians: Politicians as the Stars of Modern Election Campaigns
5. Politicized Celebrities: Agency and Activism
6. Transnational Celebrity Activism: Advocacy and Diplomacy
"A remarkable contribution to the study of political activity and communication. As a starting point for students and instructors of political communication, campaign strategists, and social movements, this book is an excellent introduction."
LSE Review of Books

"A fascinating insight into the parallel developments of the celebritisation of politicians and the politicisation of celebrities."
Times Higher Education

"This important book raises challenging questions about the nature of our contemporary politics; how and why has 'celebrity' become such an essential feature in Western democracy? Mark Wheeler provides a scholarly and accessible account of the historical interconnection and development of this phenomenon and what this means for us as citizens. A 'must-read' for anyone concerned with the character and health of contemporary democracy."
Heather Savigny, Bournemouth University

"A much-needed account of how various types of celebrity actually function within the political realm. Rich with examples and historically and conceptually informed, this excellent book allows us to make real progress in thinking and talking about the dynamic between fame and politics."
Michael Higgins, University of Strathclyde

"In the past decades, celebrities have increasingly become involved in contemporary politics, and politicians like Barack Obama have become global celebrities. Mark Wheeler engages with the growing literature on celebrity politics, providing a systematic overview on the many dimensions of the current merger of celebrity and politics that illuminates one of the salient political phenomena of our times."
Douglas Kellner, UCLA
  • The first textbook to provide an illuminating and comprehensive analysis of the phenomena of political celebrity
  • Examines and explains the relationship between politics, celebrity culture and the changing nature of the public sphere
  • Questions mainstream academic views about the ‘manufactured’ nature of celebrity politics, advancing a more nuanced, critical appreciation of the complex role played by celebrity in today’s political realm
  • Charts the growth of new forms of political debate and participation in the twenty-first century