Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit
Chapter 17: Media biopolitics: the emergence of a subfield
This chapter traces the history and growth of the media biopolitics subfield. Research in this nascent area of biology and politics is characterized by several distinguishing hallmarks. First, media content of some kind plays a central role in the study, often but not always as an independent variable or stimulus predicting a political outcome. Equally important, studies of media biopolitics tend to adopt an evolutionary or biologically based conceptual framework and utilize biologically based methods or measures. Finally, research in the area integrates a political context or outcome. Together, these criteria distinguish work in media biopolitics from similar work in related fields, such as political psychology, public opinion, news framing, or communication research. Since coalescing in the early 1980s with empirical studies by the Dartmouth Group, media biopolitics research has expanded conceptually, become more methodologically diverse, and has found a growing number of contextual applications. Future directions in media biopolitics research, toward which scholarship is moving but has not yet arrived, include automated coding of television content and broadening the scope of research to include a more expansive conception of relevant political outcomes – a quarrel that the more horizontally organized field of communication research has with the more vertically structured discipline of political science.
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