Consuming Politics

Consuming Politics

Jon Stewart, Branding, and the Youth Vote in America

Book - 2009
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Cassino (political science, Fairleigh Dickinson U., New Jersey) and Besen-Cassino (sociology, Montclair State U., New Jersey) draw on in-depth interviews and broad-based survey data and analysis to propose a new model for why young people have become disengaged from US politics over the past four decades, and what might be done to bring them back into the fray. Their core finding is that campaign managers and mass media have done such a good job of marketing candidates that Americans aged 18-24 approach politics and government as they would any other commodity: deciding whether or not to identify with a particular brand. The televising comedy The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, they say, is doing the best job of educating young people about politics, and can serve as an example for people who want to reach the young. Distributed in the US by Associated University Presses. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Blackwell North Amer
With an ongoing war overseas and the controversies of the Bush years, we might expect the young people of the 2000s to take to the streets as they did in the 1960s to vent their frustrations at the failures of the political system. The angry youth, though, just don't seem to be there any more. And while they can be mobilized as they were in the elections of 2006 and 2008 - their political world is very different from those of young people in past decades.
In this book, the authors use a combination of methods to understand how young people in the early twenty-first century see the political world, and why they are choosing not to be engaged in it. Using all the techniques of modern social science, the authors show that forty years of political consultants and media branding of candidates, issues, and parties have taken their toll, and young people today see politics as being no different than the other products and services that are marketed to them on an hourly basis. Choosing to ignore or engage in politics, then, is no more consequential than deciding whether or not to visit a certain shop, or wear a certain brand of clothing.
Rather than treating young people as a monolithic group, the authors look at three groups of youth in turn: Republicans, Democrats, and independents. While all of them see politics largely in terms of consumption, they also differ in terms of what aspects of the political world excite them, and what changes would be necessary to bring them into politics.
Special attention is paid to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the one political media outlet that all of the groups can agree on. For some, it's the only political brand worth being associated with, and young people are increasingly turning to it as a primary source of news. Using an experimental design, the authors show how and why The Daily Show is better at educating young people about politics than traditional media sources, and argue that it serves as a model for getting young people interested and involved.
The authors also make use of a national survey-based experiment to try and determine the long-term impact of the Bush administration on the political landscape. These same results provide insight into the forces underlying Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election.

Publisher: Madison [N.J.] : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, c2009
ISBN: 9780838641453
Characteristics: 261 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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