Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation

Authors

  • John Street


Abstract

Considerable political and media attention has focused on the phenomenon of the ‘celebrity politician’. As this article illustrates, there are two main variants of the phenomenon. The first is the elected politician or candidate who uses elements of ‘celebrityhood’ to establish their claim to represent a group or cause. The second is the celebrity—the star of popular culture—who uses their popularity to speak for popular opinion. Both examples have been seen by critics to debase liberal democratic political representation. This article challenges this critique and argues that the celebrity politician is consistent with a coherent account of political representation. This does not mean that all examples of the celebrity politician are to be seen as legitimate, but that the representative claim has to be analysed more carefully and discriminatingly than the critics typically suppose.

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