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Performing protest in Jamaica: the mass media as stage

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Abstract:

Contemporary citizen activism, especially street protests and demonstrations, can hardly be imagined without the mass media to amplify and sustain its message as well as mobilise a following and encourage support. The attendance of news media at the site of protest campaigns also exerts a powerful influence on their overall functioning and management and particularly on the performance of protestors. Using empirical data from Jamaica and drawing on aspects of Douglas Kellner's (2003) work on media spectacle, I explore this acute interdependence between popular protest and popular media; the varied and multiple ways in which the news media, particularly television, are integral to the performance of protest in Jamaica, how protestors manoeuvre themselves, and deploy spectacle to secure their interests within the media spotlight. Conversely, I explore the media's coverage and treatment of protest and protestors and what impact, if any, this may have on how protestors are driven to perform them.

Keywords: Jamaica; civil society; media; performance; politics; protest; television

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/macp.4.2.163_1

Affiliations: James Cook University.

Publication date: June 13, 2008

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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