Brexit, YouTube and the Populist Rhetorical Ethos

Finlayson, Alan (2022) Brexit, YouTube and the Populist Rhetorical Ethos. In: Populist Rhetorics. Rhetoric, Politics and Society . Palgrave Macmillian, pp. 81-106. ISBN 978-3-030-87350-9

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This chapter considers how contemporary populist rhetorics make use of, and are shaped by, the affordances of online digital communications platforms. Through an assessment of approaches to the study of populist ideology, I propose a concept of the populist rhetorical ethos which I further develop through in-depth analysis of a case study: a YouTube video advocating Brexit, published online by a prominent online political YouTuber. I argue that online platforms such as YouTube give rise to new genres of communication and new kinds of “rhetorical situation” to which political content must adapt, and that these often tend in a “populist” direction, inducing rhetorics centred on claims about moral and ethical character. Digital media platforms encourage political channels which stage intense dramas of dark forces and the brave rebels fighting against them, led by charismatic rhetoricians revealing secrets and telling truths about what is “really” going on and what “they” won’t tell you, promising salvation to their heroic followers.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Political, Social and International Studies
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2022 11:30
Last Modified: 11 May 2022 00:06
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-87351-6_4

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