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POLVOA41/S28 Clowns, ‘Alluring Ducks’ and ‘Miss Finland 2009’: The Politics of ‘Celebrity Politics’ 5–10 ECTS
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Degree Programme in Politics
Political Science
School of Management

General description

Carey and Shugart (1995: 419) have noted how “the national celebrity enjoyed by movie stars or athletes can translate into valuable personal reputation in some electoral systems”. In the US the names of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the UK Sebastian Coe and in Finland ‘Julma’ Juha Väätäinen or Juha Mieto come readily to mind. This course explores the phenomenon of ‘celebrity politics’. It distinguishes between the ‘celebrity candidate’, the ‘celebrity politician’ and the ‘celebrity advocate’ and considers inter alia the wider implications of celebrity politics for representative democracy. The theoretical contribution of the course is to place the ‘celebrity phenomenon’ at the junction of four broad research fields – the mediatisation of politics, the personalisation of politics, the individualisation of electioneering and work on partisan de-alignment. The overarching question is: ‘Does celebrity politics matter?’ (Street 2012) The original James Bond has endorsed Scottish independence!

Course Programme

October 28 Introduction to the world of celebrity politics. How the course came about

October 30 Exploring the celebrity density of politics. Defining celebrity types

November 4 Explaining the celebrity density of politics. Some interlocking theory

November 6 Estimating the value of the celebrity candidate. The Finnish case

November 11 Does celebrity politics matter? What are its implications for representative democracy?

November 13 No session (I shall be in Strasbourg)

November 18 Concluding discussion

Enrolment for University Studies

Email registration to david.arter@uta.fi by October 20


David Arter, Teacher responsible


28-Oct-2014 – 25-Nov-2014
Lectures 18 hours
Tue 28-Oct-2014 - 25-Nov-2014 weekly at 10-12, Pinni B3107
Thu 30-Oct-2014 - 20-Nov-2014 weekly at 16-18, Pinni B1096


Numeric 1-5.

Evaluation criteria

Course attendance + the following written assignment

Critically assess the density of celebrity politics in a country of your choice

You could focus on the incidence of celebrity candidates, the role of the media in generating celebrity politics, the influence of a particular celebrity politician or celebrity advocate, the personalized style of politics etc. Is there evidence of more or less celebrity politics and why? Try and use some of the concepts/ideas from the course.

Please email me if you are in difficulty


A maximum of six one and a half spaced pages in English or Finnish


December 2nd Please note that I will accept only hard copies (no email attachments) and I will not accept late submissions

Study materials

Selective Reading (including Finnish-language references)

Asp, Kent (1986) Mäktiga massmedier (Stockholm: Akademilitteratur)

Bjerling, Johannes (2012) The Personalisation of Politics (Bohus: University of Gothenburg)

Brandenburg, Heinz (2002) ‘Who Follows Whom? The Impact of Parties on Media Agenda Formation in the 1997 British General Election Campaign’ Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 7, 34-54

Dalen, Arjen Van and Peter Van Aelst (2014) ‘The Media as Political Agenda-Setters: Journalists’ Perceptions of Media Power in Eight West European Countries’ West European Politics 37, 1, 42-64

Honkasaari, Emilia (2011) “En ole tyhjäpää turha julkku” Pro-gradu thesis: Helsinki University

Karvonen, Lauri (2009) The Personalisation of Politics (Colchester: ECPR Press)

Korhonen,Johanna (2010) Ehdokkaat esiin! Miten julkinen valta voi tukea vaaliehdokkaiden maksutonta näkyvyytä äänestäjien tiedonsaantia (Helsinki: Oikeusministeriön selvityksiä ja ohjeita 33

Lees-Marshment, Jennifer (2001) ’The Marriage of Politics and Marketing’ Political Studies 49: 692-713

Marsh, David, Paul ‘t Hart and Karen Tindall (2010) ‘Celebrity Politics. The Politics of Late Modernity’ Political Studies Review 8, 322-340

Mazzolini, Gianpetro and Winfried Schulz (1999) ‘Mediatization of Politics: A Challenge for Democracy’ Political Communication 16, 3, 247-261

McDonnell, Duncan (2013) ‘Silvio Berlusconi’s Personal Parties: From Forza Italia to the Popolo Della Liberta’ Political Studies 61, 1, 217-233

Niemi, Mari K. (2007) ‘Voiko julkkiskin olla ihan oikea ehdokas?’ in Ville Pernaa (ed) Mielikuvavaalit (Keuruu: Otava), 151-173

Rahat, Gideon and Tamit Sheafer (2007) ’The personalization of politics: Israel, 1949-2003’ Political Communication 24, 1, 65-80

Stanyer, James (2013) Intimate Politics (Cambridge: Polity)

Street, John (2004) ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’ The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6, 4, 435-452

Street, John (2012) ‘Do Celebrity Politics and Celebrity Politicians Matter? British Journal of Politics and International Relations 14, 346-356

West, Darrell M. and John M. Orman (2002) Celebrity Politics (Prentice Hall)

Wheeler, Mark (2013) Celebrity Politics (Polity)