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The HyperReality of Italian Democracy

The Berlusconi Years: 1994-2014

(F. Amoretti ed.)

During the two decades since his entry into politics, after the collapse of the Italian consociational democracy, Berlusconi deeply changed not only the classical campaign strategies, such as the political rituals and practices, but the whole political landscape. Especially thanks to a symbolic representation centred on the mise-en-scene of bodies and on a narrative turn inspired by the rhetoric ‘of doing’, which actually replaces the practice of ‘doing’ with the habit of ‘announcing’, ‘Berlusconism’ as ideology went beyond Berlusconi himself it transformed the Italian political culture and the whole society in a ‘hyper-reality’ show. Even if a heavy twenty-year long influence has transformed the general idea of democracy, nevertheless some major issues of institutional dynamics of political order have not been fully understood yet.

In a way, Italy has become an exceptional case study and a valuable workshop where to analyse political and institutional transformations within mediated democracies. Partly as a consequence of the Italian political turmoil of the last twenty years, three crucial topics have been brought to the fore of comparative political communication research:

a.       Studies on personal parties (or personalized leadership), and on political marketing in order to understand the overcoming of traditional models of party organization, and the innovation of electoral campaign strategies and resources.

b.       Studies on the popularization of politics, focusing on new media environments, particularly on emerging formats (infotainment and politainment), which have subverted the old distinction between political and media logic.

c.          Finally, studies on populist discourses, and, more generally, on anti-political cultures that characterize new movements and their leaders: Forza Italia, Lega Nord and Movimento 5 Stelle.

The aim of this call is twofold. On the one hand, it seeks to rekindle the discussion on such topics by linking them more closely to issues relating to political cultures and languages and to questions pertaining to the institutional transformations of democracy taking place in the last twenty year. On the other hand, it wishes to shed new light on themes that have barely been analysed by traditional empirical and theoretical research.

In light of this, we invite submissions on the following topics, from a theoretical as well as an empirical perspective:

  • Contributions that analyse the mediatization of political decision-making and deliberation processes.
  • Historical studies on the mediatization of the Italian government between 1994 and 2014.
  • Studies on mediatized citizenship, movements and other forms of extra-parliamentary and identity politics.
  • Works on the relationship between institutional powers – Prime Minister, Judiciary, Head of State – in a mediatized public arena.
  • Contributions analysing the development of political languages.
  • Studies on political cultures and the symbolic constructions of identities.
  • Theoretical reflections on how to improve our understanding of the mediatization of politics. Is the so called audience democracy (Manin) a useful concept in understanding the Berlusconi era?

We encourage contributions from different theoretical and methodological approaches. Papers that tackle the above issues from a historical and/or a comparative perspective are also welcome.

Submission Details

Please send your abstracts (300-600 words) by 20th March 2014 to and to Francesco Amoretti

Notification of Outcome: 30th March 2014

Full papers submission (7,000 words maximum, including abstract and references, footnotes): 27 June 2014

Please ensure that author(s) names are removed from the text and from the supplementary files. Submissions must adhere to the formatting template provided.