Political Attention: A Genealogy of Reinscriptions

  • Jayson HarsinEmail author


This chapter argues that democratic political attention (PA) has always been embedded in socio-economic relations and observable through historically shifting communication practices and moralized habits. It considers democratic PA on as collective attention to a common object whose status as political is rhetorically contingent; and as individual cognition. Both forms of PA are the object of second-party and third-party strategies to transform it into distraction for political and commercial ends. It focuses on Greco-Roman origins, its displacement into anti-democratic spectacles of power as well as technologies of self; its rebirth in eighteenth century and then twentieth century American refigurings, which eventually are subsumed by consumer cultural monopolies on collective attention. Finally, it considers contemporary bio-political co-optation as digital post-PA; and as resistant insurgent PA.


Attention economy Democracy Insurgent political attention Strategic political communication Political Attention Consumer culture 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The American University of ParisParisFrance

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