Between Commodification and Lifestyle Politics
Is Silvio Berlusconi an Italian anomaly? That’s what conventional wisdom suggests.
This book argues that while there are aspects of the political adventure of “Il cavaliere” that are linked to well-rooted aspects of Italian culture and history, at the same time Berlusconi represents the prototype of a new model of politics that can be identified in some other democracies— mostly in countries with similar features to Italy.
Commodification of politics (the overlapping between politics and consumption) and lifestyle politics are the major changes to which the Berlusconi experience points, not just at the symbolic level but also in terms of new forms of political participation. These changes are linked to the role that television plays as the primary agent of political socialisation.
This book provides detailed analysis and case studies to suggest why Silvio Berlusconi may represent a new model of politics for the 21st century.
"A skilfully constructed and powerfully argued essay that illustrates how the Berlusconi phenomenon reflects the erosion of traditional political structures and values in Western democracies."
- Tony Barber, Europe Editor, Financial Times
"Fascinating insights by a seasoned observer, and a timely reminder that the Berlusconi phenomenon may not be unique to Italy."
- David Hine, CUF University Lecturer in Politics, University of Oxford
Paolo Mancini is surely correct that no single explanation suffices for Berlusconi's long dominance of Italian politics: not media control, not vast wealth, not communication skills, not populism, not the ability to forge broad coalitions to turn his party's 20-25% of the vote into a winning formula. It is all of these, skilfully combined. And he is right that although the specific combination may never be reproduced in any other western democracy, Berlusconi's exploitation of widespread trends in attitudes to politics and consumption of media should act as a universal warning.
Bill Emmott, Author "Forza, Italia: Come ripartire dopo Berlusconi" (Rizzoli, 2010) Editor, The Economist 1993-2006
Paolo Mancini is Professor in the Department of Institutions and Society at the University of Perugia.