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Academic Articles

No One Cares What We Know: Three Responses to the Irrelevance of Political Communication Research

In “No One Cares What We Know: Three Responses to the Irrelevance of Political Communication Research”, published in Political Communication, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen examines why academics working in the field of political communication research have been largely absent from recent important and high-profile public and policy debates around political-communication related issues like fake news, propaganda, and surprise election results. He suggests the field should rethink how it works and embrace problem-oriented interdisciplinary work in collaboration with both inside and outside partners and engage with contemporary issues.

The full article is available here and the abstract below.


Public discussions around the role of different forms of political communication in influencing various political outcomes in for example the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and UK EU Referendum suggest that political communications research is largely marginal to these public discussions. We might think we have epistemic authority over our object of analysis, but no one cares what we know. The result is that substantially important public (and policy) discussions of issues at the core of our field are dumber than they could have been, in part due to our absence, an absence that is in turn in part due to the ways in which we as a field do our work. In this essay, I identify some of the external and internal factors that help account for this and suggest that we as a community debate whether we want to do something about our irrelevance and the internal norms and institutions that contribute to it. I offer three possible responses, labelled academic purism, scholarly conservatism, and intellectual pragmatism, and different styles of engagement, and ask whether we should aim to be a more active part of the “rough process” of public discussion, or simply leave it to others and accept that no one cares what we know.