‘Values Are Always at Stake’: An Interview with Jay G. Blumler
I’m not sure whether it’s essential, but I certainly think it is desirable and important. And that’s because values are at stake in our subfield of the communication discipline. I think one can see that at four different levels. First of all, there is the civic level itself. On the one hand, there is the Schumpeterian view that democracy should pivot on competition between two teams of would-be political leaders for the votes of citizens. Now, that was not just an observation of how democratic politics was being conducted on the part of Schumpeter and others who followed him (often described as a ‘realist’ view of democracy), but it was also normative for him. At one point, Schumpeter even maintained that for politics to work well, there should be restraint on the part of citizens from trying to do more than choose between competing leaders (Schumpeter, 1942). Well, of course, that stands in opposition to the participatory view of democracy, especially as outlined by Carole Pateman (1970), who argued that a worthwhile democratic process should encourage, enable and involve more wide-ranging forms of citizen participation.
One of the questions you often raise in research seminars is about the normative position of the speaker. Is it essential for media and communications researchers to have a clear normative stance? Why is it so important in your view?
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