Portraying Power follows the recent trend toward using popular culture and entertainment as a vehicle for explaining politics by pushing the line of inquiry into the study of film, the form of entertainment least explored by scholars of political communication. Film studies rooted in film theory and critical cultural approaches have a long and venerable history, but political science has thus far contributed very little to nor drawn much upon it.
Regina Lawrence’s new text argues that many films explicitly or implicitly portray aspects of power―the central concept in the study of politics―in patterned, predictable, and often problematic ways. By introducing a multi-faceted framework for thinking about the political nature of films, Lawrence explores three ways film can be studied by political scientists and scholars of political communication: the power of film to portray political reality, how films allocate resources, and the nature of film’s portrayals of power.
Covering a typology of film in terms of general form―from documentaries to "based on a true story" narratives to the purely fictional―and their political content―from explicit to implicit―Lawrence analyzes a broad array of films. This will be the only text on the market written by an expert on political communication that truly synthesizes the scholarly insights of political science, communication studies, and film studies. A companion website will includes basic background on film theory and technique, links to film clips and interviews with filmmakers, and other support materials for the text.
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Regina Lawrence holds the Jesse H. Jones Centennial Chair in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her PhD in political science from the University of Washington in Seattle and is the author of numerous works in media and politics and political communication. She is currently the chair of the Political Communication section of the American Political Science Association.
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