Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Humanist Propaganda: The Poster as a Visual Medium of Communication Used by 'New' Social Movements

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Humanist Propaganda: The Poster as a Visual Medium of Communication Used by 'New' Social Movements

Article excerpt

Introduction

Social movements are important drivers of social change, and they are inseparably linked to the processes of democratisation and the expansion of political rights and liberties (e.g. Tilly 2004; Tilly and Wood 2009). Social movements draw mainly from structural changes in industrial societies, primarily those relating to socialisation, the development of the commercial press and the emergence of new kinds of associations (Tarrow 1994, p. 48). In post-industrialism and the advancement of capitalist society, new types of social movements emerged, including peace, environmental, gay and student movements (Staggenborg 2012, p. 23). These 'new' social movements differed from the 'old' movements--most notably the labour movement--in terms of their structure, constituency and ideology. Although the problems in the capitalist class society were the main reasons for the re-emergence of social movements, new grievances resulted in new values, new forms of action and new constituencies (Klandermans 1986, p. 21).

In Central and Eastern European socialist systems during the 1980s, these 'post-materialist' values (Inglehart 1990; 2007) appeared in submerged networks and constructed new collective identities, new cultural innovations and new symbolic challenges. The new ideas (e.g. peace, environmental, gay, punk, etc.) in socialist countries were often appropriated from the West (Erjavec 2003a, p. 18). However, because of specific conditions and different political circumstances, the ground in which these ideas were cultivated was already fertile. New social movements left their mark in the pursuit of expansive, new collective identities, autonomy, principles of solidarity and the perpetual search for the optimal blend of the spontaneous potential of the masses and organised socially oriented political actions (Pavlovic 1987, pp. 7-9). At the end of the twentieth century, new social movements in socialist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) advocated democratisation and significantly contributed to the final breakdown of authoritarian regimes (Gunder Frank 1990). Concerned with the elite's occupation of political power, new social movements have challenged the monistic political order, which has been demarcated by the decadent ideas of a socialist society and the reluctance to transform substantially (Fink-Hafner 1992, p. 41).

An important part of social movement campaigns (i.e. interactions among movement actors, their targets, the public and other relevant actors) is their visual presence, which is frequently in close relation to the political and cultural symbols, ideas and ideologies that they promote (Sawer 2007). The visually mediated socio-cultural reality (Kurtz 2005) that is produced by social movements is predominantly dispersed through mass media (Koopmans 2004), as well as other means of communication and persuasion (Kurtz 2005; Sawer 2007; Ziemann 2008; Carty 2015; Schwartz 2002; Philipps 2012; Cherry 2016; Eyerman 2002; McCaughan 2012; Everhart 2012). In particular, the poster is an inexpensive means of mobilisation and information dissemination (Kurtz 2005, p. 81), which is under the direct control of the transmitter, and it is not reshaped by a mediator (e.g. mass media). Posters are one of the best visual tools that social movements can use to persuade their targeted public audience (Kladermans 1992, pp. 89-90). This mode of persuasive communication is immensely important for regime-critical movements, especially in non-democratic environments. During the collapse of socialist regimes across Europe, posters represented one of the major challenges to established authority, and they were the predominant tool used to express resistance to the regime (Aulich and Sylvestrova 1999, p. 78).

In the present study, we examine the characteristics of the poster campaigns conducted by new social movements in Slovenia from the early 1980s and the new millenium. (4) The purpose of this study is to identify and explain potential differences between the poster campaigns of social movements in the eras of communist monism (i. …

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