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Archived teaching schedules 2016–2017
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POLVOA32/S27 The Personalisation of Politics 5–10 ECTS
Implementation is also a part of open university teaching
Period I Period II Period II 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

Learning outcomes

Students will become familiar with the literature and debate on the presidentialisation, mediatisation and personalisation of politics and will apply their knowledge to developments in their ´home country´.

General description

Politics seems more and more concerned with the public and private lives and the ideas of politicians in leadership positions. Blair gave us Blairism, Reagan Reaganomics; Ed Miliband’s face did not fit; ‘alpha male’ Donald Trump groped women ‘like an octopus’; Bill Clinton lived a colourful extra-marital existence; the former French president François Mitterrand had a mistress throughout his period in office; and then there was Berlusconi! The media spotlight on leading politicians has appeared to elevate them above their party as well as exposing them to ruthless scrutiny regarding their capacity to lead. 

Lecture/seminar themes

1. The Presidentialisation of Politics

Have leaders become more prominent and powerful at the expense of parties, policies and parliamentarians?

2. The Mediatisation of Politics

Do the media effectively determine the outcome of elections?

Voting Advice Applications; Candidate videos; web television

3. Presidentialisation at the Grassroots?

Are election campaigns in the constituencies becoming more candidate-centred?

Electoral system and party incentives to ‘individualise’ campaigns

‘Decentralised personalisation’

4. Online personalisation

Do (and how do) candidates seek a cyber-space ‘relationship’ with voters – intimacy at distance?

E-campaigning, online candidate biographies, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Lecture Schedule

January 17 Personalisation: Exploring a multi-dimensional concept

January 19 The structural factors underpinning personalisation

January 24 ‘Centralised personalisation’: the ‘Presidentialisation of Politics’ thesis

January 26 The ‘personal party’: Glistrup, Lange, Wilders and Berlusconi

January 31 The mediatisation of politics: From Talk Shows to VAAs

February 2 ‘Decentralised personalisation’: the ‘Individualisation’ of candidate campaigns

February 7 Online personalisation

February 9 Personalisation and the Quality of Democracy 

Enrolment for University Studies

Email registration essential by January 10, 2017

Enrolment for Open University Studies

24.11.2016. Compulsory preceding studies: POLPOP02 Introduction to Political Science


David Arter, Teacher responsible


17-Jan-2017 – 9-Feb-2017
Lectures 16 hours
Tue 17-Jan-2017 - 7-Feb-2017 weekly at 14-16, Main building C6
Thu 19-Jan-2017 - 9-Feb-2017 weekly at 14-16, Main building C6


Numeric 1-5.

Evaluation criteria

Course Attendance and the following essay in English or Finnish:

‘Critically assess the evidence of a personalisation of politics’

Length 4-6 double-spaced A4 pages

Deadline Noon Thursday 23 February

Study materials

Select Reading

Dowding, Keith (2013) ‘The Prime Ministerialisation of the British Prime Minister’ Parliamentary Affairs 66, 617-635

Webb, Paul & Poguntke, Thomas (2013) ‘The Presidentialisation of Politics Thesis Defended’ Parliamentary Affairs 66, 3, 646-654

Holtz-Bacha, Christina, Anna Ines Langer & Susanne Merkle (2014) ‘The personalisation of politics in comparative perspective: campaign coverage in Germany and the United Kingdom’ European Journal of Communication 29, 2, 153-170

Van Aelst, Peter, Tamir Sheafer & James Stanyer (2012) ‘The personalization of mediated political communication: A review of concepts, operationalizations and key findings’ Journalism 13, 2, 203-220

Salgado, Susana (2013) ‘Intimate Politics: Publicity, Privacy and the Personal Lives of Politicians in Media-Saturated Democracies’ European Journal of Communication 28, 6, 722-735

Strandberg, Kim & Tom Carlson (2016) ‘Expanding the Online Political Demos but Maintaining the Status Quo? Internet and Social Media Use by Finnish Voters Prior to Elections, 2003-15’ Scandinavian Political Studies (early view)

Further information

Compulsory preceding studies: POLPOP02 Introduction to Political Science (exchange students: equivalent studies at home university).