The Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity

The Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity

The Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity

The Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity

Synopsis

This analysis of political speeches and televised political interviews in the UK, based on the Annual Party Conferences (1996-2000) and the last five general elections (1983-2001), evaluates the interview skills of politicians and political interviewers, investigates how and why politicians equivocate and handle interruptions and examines the nature of applause, both invited and uninvited, in political speeches.

Excerpt

During the twentieth century, research on communication underwent a revolution. Central to this new approach was the belief in the value of studying social interaction through the analysis of film, audiotape and videotape recordings of behaviour. Because such research is based on the detailed ('micro') analysis of both speech and nonverbal behaviour, the author has referred to it elsewhere as the microanalytic approach (Bull, 2002). In Communication under the Microscope (Bull, 2002), the author set out to trace the development of microanalysis. In this book, the author presents a series of original empirical studies conducted by himself and his colleagues on the microanalysis of political communication.

Microanalysis represents not only a distinctive methodology but also a distinctive way of thinking about communication (Bull, 2002). Undoubtedly, the analysis of film, audiotape and videotape recordings has facilitated discoveries which otherwise simply would not be possible. Indeed, the effect of the videotape recorder has been likened to that of the microscope in the biological sciences. Without recorded data which can repeatedly be examined, it is simply not possible to perform highly detailed analyses of both speech and nonverbal communication. But microanalysis did not develop simply as a consequence of innovations in technology. Film technology had been available since the beginning of the twentieth century; two of the earliest pioneers of cinematography, Muybridge and Marey, had a particular interest in analysing and recording movement patterns in animals and humans (Muybridge, 1899, 1901; Marey, 1895). The extensive use of this technology in the study of human social interaction has only really developed in the past few decades; its use reflects fundamental changes in the way in which we think about human communication (Kendon, 1982).

The introductory chapter to Communication under the Microscope (Bull, 2002, pp. 1-23) traces the intellectual influences that contributed to the development of microanalysis as a distinctive mode of thought. It also seeks to specify the key features of the microanalytic approach. The introductory chapter to this book is divided into three parts, the first two of which are

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