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Democracy in a de-civilizing age: The rise of shameless personal truths.

Scullion, R. and Armon, S., 2018. Democracy in a de-civilizing age: The rise of shameless personal truths. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 14 (3), 283-300.

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DOI: 10.1386/macp.14.3.283_1


In this paper, we articulate an argument that suggests we need to look to broad, yet often quite subtle, societal and cultural changes, in order to better understand post-truth politics. We argue that democracy, ontologically premised on the atomized individual as the legitimate social agent, (Hay 2007) is itself being destabilised. This disruption is due in part to a shift in our conception of 'self' that is both corroding the core pillars of our civilising process and altering the nature of our engagement with democratic politics. The historic processes of a civilising culture are outlined in order to argue that the power of our neoliberal consumer culture has generated a ‘decivilising turn’, characterized by the rise of shame thresholds and narcissistic personalities. We then illustrate how these cultural changes produce a climate welcoming of ‘Post-truth’, linking this most specifically to the contemporary political landscape. Civic life resides most acutely in the customs and conventions upheld through the practice of our public dealings with others. The more entrenched, the less easily it can be disrupted by maverick acts and demagogues’ deeds. However, when those in positions of high office show little self-restraint, and sufficient numbers of the populous don't care, the norms democracy depends on are vulnerable to 'charlatan' leaders and populist causes. Here, we offer a picture of democracy in a ‘decivilising’ age where shameless personal truth is privileged. Please note that the start of the introduction contains words that some readers may find offensive.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:democracy; individualism; de-civilizing; populism; narcissism; popular culture
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30862
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 Jun 2018 12:47
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:11


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