Topic of Research Investigation: Role of media in shaping public opinion and perception x Reflection

In today’s discussion, we managed to narrow our scope of investigation into 3 separate case studies- all of which revolves around the conceptual role of the media in shaping public opinion and perception; specifically identifying the figures of leadership who hold power and perpetuate influence throughout public mediums. As a group, we have collectively chosen this topic as it not only largely identifies with the theme of development (especially in the context of current affairs and global politics) but from a constructivist point of view — allows us to take on an angle that not only allows for the analysis of various ways of leadership historically, but from a social context of anarchy as well. According to Alexander Wendt who has the most amount of literature attributed to political constructivist theory — “anarchy is what the state makes of it”; the theme of anarchy here is not the most relevant to our research investigation, but it does set the tone in allowing us to define the role of states and governments/ governmental institutions and the extent of their power in perpetuating a regime/ democracy. Moreover, it allows us to identify popular ideas since constructivist theory is entirely dependent on the audience (public opinion) – giving us insight into the social context at that time as well.

Therefore, the overview of our intended case study figures of political leaders are as follow:

. Donald Trump
. Margaret Thatcher
. Augustus

We plan to look at these 3 figures and the ways of which they have managed to shape public opinion about their policies and agendas by looking at their way of leadership and governance. Furthermore, we also aim to look at the issue of censorship in the media and to what extent media powerhouses/ governments with the capacity to control content exert their influence in order to propagate certain ideas, or garner support for a particular cause/ policy/ line of agenda. In the meantime, we seek to collate a variety of different literature on these 3 figures and sieve out primary sources (in the form of official government publications/ transcripts of public speeches/ pictures/ etc) that will allow us to anchor our discussion and compare/ contrast several points of similarities/ differences with their use of the media and shaping public opinion.

There are also several interesting articles to look at with regards to public perception and representation of President Trump in the media. A notable one would be the article featured in The Economist very recently that showcases all their cover works with regards to Trump and his presidency. President Trump’s first year, through The Economist’s covers undertook a sarcastic tone in describing the first year of presidency since Trump’s inauguration as President, with compiled illustrations ranging from “when the former host of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ took George Washington’s old job” in the January 2017 issue, to him as an “unruly child” in January 2018. The significance of these illustrations not only effectively portray the political climate and entanglements of his administration, but the underlying tone of sarcasm in all illustrations does not paint him as a figure deserving of respect from the mainstream media.

1. Alexander Wendt: Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction
of Power Politics, International Organisation, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring, 1992), pp. 391-425.