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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Howardism, Media Governmentality and the Hanson Effect

David Nolan.

Drawing on research undertaken in my doctoral thesis, this paper is concerned to develop a case for an historical understanding of journalism as a liberal technology of government. In so doing, it explicitly challenges what remains the most predominant model for media analysis based upon the liberal ideal of journalism as a fourth estate or, following the work of Jurgen Habermas, a public sphere. Rather than offer an alternative theory of journalism, the 'media governmentality' framework for which I argue calls for historical analysis of how various rationalities and practices of journalism have developed in relation to the problem-space defined (and redefined) by liberalism as an 'art of government'.

Employing this framework to consider an Australian case study, the paper examines how journalistic practices provided one of the constitutive grounds for 'Howardism', a specifically Australian articulation of a neo-liberal political rationality. It argues that the emergence of the extreme-right politician Pauline Hanson as a political and media phenomenon in Australia was a product of the relationship between Howardism and media governmentality. The mediated 'Hanson effect' alludes both to Pauline Hanson's status as a product of the media-politics nexus and to the continuing ramifications of the Hanson phenomenon in the Australian political context.


David Nolan  (Australia)
Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies
School of Applied Communication
RMIT University

David Nolan is a lecturer in the School of Applied Communication at RMIT University. He has recently completed his doctoral thesis, which used media coverage of the extreme-right Australian politician as a case study for a consideration of the politics of journalism, developing the concept of 'media governmentality' as a framework for considering the role of media rationalities and practice in contemporary social governance. His research interests are in the historical investigation of journalism as a technology of government, the role between media practices in national and international politics, and the impact of political discourse and policy frameworks on media rationalities and practices, and contemporary media and communication trends and phenomena. He is a member of the editorial board of the international journal Southern Review: Communication, Politics and Culture.

  • Journalism
  • Media Studies
  • Politics
  • Government
Person as Subject
  • Howard, John Hanson, Pauline

(30 min Conference Paper, English)