Elihu Katz Colloquium Lecture by Peter Lunt, D.Phil., University of Leicester, UK

Elihu Katz Colloquium Series
13 Nov 2015 - 12:00pm
The Annenberg School for Communicaiton, Room 500
ASC Only

Title of talk

Affect, Indignation, Critique and Deliberation: Reading Affective Publics through the Lens of The New Spirit of Capitalism.


This talk is from a paper takes its starting point from Zizi Papacharissi’s (2015) analysis of how Affective Publics emerge from storytelling on social media demonstrating how structures of feeling generate collective forms through digital communication networks. In this way some of the traditional problems of emotions in public life, of popular democracy leading to chaos and lack of order are potentially overcome without invoking the normative ideals of public reason and agreement. Instead, algorithmic logics translate the complexity and chaos of seemingly ephemeral affective publics and connect them to liquid forms of power. These insights challenge the widespread scepticism about both the potential of digital media to form public connections and concerns about the capacity of digital/affective collectives to connect with politics. The paper goes on to set Paparachissi’a work in the context of Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello’s work in The New Spirit of Capitalism. They too give affect in the form of indignation a central role in politics but their analysis provides some interesting comparisons to that developed in Affective Publics. The essential difference is that Boltanski and Chiapello provide an account of indignation as emerging from the incorporation of the artistic and social critiques of the 1960s into the contemporary neo-managerialist ideology of late modernity. While work is organised as flexible, adaptable, creative and mobile, indignation leads to critiques of inauthenticity, oppression, misery/inequality and egoism. The paper ends by considering the implications of these perspectives on the relations among affect, activism and critique for political theories of deliberation.

About Peter Lunt

Peter Lunt, who is a Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication for the Fall 2015 semester, is the head of the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Leicester, UK. He previously held academic posts at the University of Kent, University College London, and Brunel University and has been a visiting lecturer at the LSE, SPS in Cambridge, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, Notre Dame (London Programme) and the University of Oslo.

His research interests include media audiences, public participation in popular culture (talk shows and reality TV), media regulation, consumption research and the links between media and social theory He has been interested in consumer studies or consumption research for over twenty years. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he was interested in what appeared to be a growing link between consumption and identity and particularly the way that regulatory changes were opening up personal finances allowing an increase in personal debt and accompanying shifts in social attitudes and ethical responses to consumer society. In audience studies and the study of popular culture he has worked mainly on the talk show genre which anticipated the increasing mediation of public participation which has developed in reality TV and new media. He originally (also with Sonia Livingstone) was interested in the links between the mediation of public engagement and political culture and the changing conception of public service media. He is still writing about talk shows and in recent years has been interested in sensational talk shows such as the Jerry Springer Show and the Jeremy Kyle Show.  He is also working on other popular culture TV genres including makeover TV and working (with Claire Lynch at Brunel) on the relation between identity, memory and history in Who Do You Think You Are?

More recently he has become engaged in media policy research focusing on the changing regime of regulation of media and communications in the UK through a study of the work of Ofcom. The findings and ideas from this research (funded by the ESRC) have been published in a number of papers and appear in his book (again with Sonia LivingstoneMedia Regulation: Governance in the Interests of Citizens and Consumers published by Sage in 2011.

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