Power of Scandal

Power of Scandal: Semiotic and Pragmatic in Mass Media

JOHANNES EHRAT
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 432
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv5pz
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  • Book Info
    Power of Scandal
    Book Description:

    By examining the parallel worlds of media and public opinion,Power of Scandaluses an alternative heuristic for understanding mass communication that is both rigorous and sophisticated.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8675-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. 1 A Theoretical Approach to the Nature of Media Scandal
    (pp. 3-47)

    Not every scandal is really a scandal. What those with vested interests call ‘scandalous’ often does not have a scandal’s power. It is, therefore, advisable to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not every piece of ‘negative press’ generates impact, just as not every successful public relations stunt has sustainable effects. Many mini-scandals, moreover, are products of an industry striving to have celebrities talked about by any means. Under the rules of this ‘fame game,’ tacit agreements exist between PR agencies (celebrity handlers) and the tabloid press; indeed, the two have an out-and-out symbiotic/parasitical coexistence. Clearly, then, how to define...

  6. 2 What Is Publicity, the Public Sphere?
    (pp. 48-75)

    To address publicity as a logical and epistemic problem is one thing; to approach it as a historical explanation of contingent events is another. What does it mean to cognize the ‘public,’ and how is this done? What does this involve, and which operations must take place? Publicity doesnotexist for the purpose of creating a universe parallel to the empirical one, though this is an unavoidable by-product. The public sphere is staged primarily for the purpose of publicly putting forward an opinion. This does not consist of opining whatever; it is not in the first place an uncontrolled...

  7. 3 Semiotic of Publicity
    (pp. 76-102)

    Publicity, which in today’s communications debates is still entangled in contingencies of the early Habermasian ‘public sphere’ (Habermas 1962),¹ is far from being a clear research concept. It is now incumbent on Pragmaticism and semiotic not only to take it out of the specific Habermasian context, but also to offer a better understanding of meaning as public. With reference to our discussion of theories explaining publicity from different origins in meaningin se,semiotic straddles both classes of meaning theories. While the challenge of strong theories of meaningin seis accepted, semiotic has the potential to address as well...

  8. 4 Publicity in Media Theory
    (pp. 103-179)

    Is the public sphere ‘something,’ or is it ‘just’ meaning? In terms of society’s viewpoint, is media publicity different from – and more than – the simple negation of social privacy? We have seen how the meaning reality of publicity is construed as sign by means of teleology and how it is realized in cultural-historical models. Let us next address a no less central determinant of meaning – mediality, and how it is constituted in media. The meaning of publicity as such is constituted teleologically, but that meaning varies in terms of whether it arises from a citizen’s meeting, a caucus, village gossip,...

  9. 5 From Jubilation to Scandal
    (pp. 180-214)

    Media of publicity have their own ideology built in (be it conceptualized as rationality, meaning constraint, technological or aesthetic determination, or teleology). Their logical claim is all-encompassing of things public, relegating to the private what they choose to ignore. Religion could have been private for the public discourse, but between the two are a number of conflict areas in matters of morals and customs. One way of avoiding this constraint is the public self-display, a public identity carried into a drama that is freer than the θέατρον of public opinion. As entertainment, the imaginary play with identities in this drama...

  10. 6 Judgment: Bringing into a Scandal-Position
    (pp. 215-256)

    The next three chapters relate to one another, in logical sequence, as program, performance, effect. In handier words: script, action, result. Together they describe the whole of media scandal. This chapter discusses meaning in terms of its institution, space and positions, time, and allowable sequences. The script’s enactment becomes performance and thus temporal sequencing, which is discussed in chapter 7. Chapter 8 then discusses how the performance results in the concrete effect upon social reality.

    Scandal as script, or program, is one possible instantiation of public opinion meaning and thus an especially eloquent replica of the dramaturgical god instance. The...

  11. 7 The Course of the Scandal Pro-Gram
    (pp. 257-290)

    The arsenal of instruments, as discussed above, is really nothing but a pro-gram, ‘pre-written.’ We now turn to the actual course of the programmed, once it has been pre-scribed, prepared, and readied for use. All depends on the event. When we start the event, we are also setting its middle and its end: With this rule, Aristotle’sPoeticsraises an issue that is more than temporal sequence. The beginning of the end is an operator of (post hoc ergo proper hoc) logic as much as the turning point towards the end, and the recognition of achievement of the purpose. After...

  12. 8 Effect and Reality of Scandal
    (pp. 291-322)

    Not without reason, previous chapters of this book bracketed the thematic complex ‘reality’ as much as possible, in order to treat it explicitly at the conclusion of narrative meaning. At first sight, the fact that the ‘reality’ concept is so ambiguous makes it useless as a simple point of reference, without critically discriminating analysis. Thus, when ‘real’ refers to truth claims proffered in media scandals (‘a true story’), this refers to past reality. When we consider the political use of media scandals, we are referring to a future reality, which we distinguish here by calling it ‘effect.’ Asking whether scandals...

  13. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 323-332)

    This study addressed two central topics, neither of which, as we stated in the introduction, is self-evident or even generally accepted in the discipline. We argued, first, that how publicity constructs meaning must be grasped theoretically and historically; and second, that there is an intrinsic relation of publicity to religion. Regarding the first argument, some would pass over endeavours to determine the theoretical nature of publicity as an exercise in futility and explaining the obvious; while the second, bringing religion into this picture, may seem adventurous or artificial to others. Once the range of what they encompass became apparent, however,...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 333-378)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 379-402)
  16. Index
    (pp. 403-407)