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The personal, the political and the popular : a woman's guide to celebrity politics

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Zoonen, Liesbet van

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Abstract This article looks at articulations of gender, politics and citizenship by examining two European female heads of state: Tarja Halonen (Finland) and Angela Merkel (Germany). It discusses their personae in the context of emerging public debate about the merits and shortcomings of what is nowadays called ‘celebrity politics’, constituted by popularization and personalization. The analysis suggests that the increasing presence of popular culture in politics presents a complex and often unfavourable arena to women because of its inbuilt and extreme polarization of femininity and politics. It shows how Tarja Halonen and Angela Merkel have bypassed the personalization of politics and present a thoroughly political and professional persona to the public, rigidly concealing their private lives. As a result, female politicians - at least the two heads of state analysed here - tend to represent a classic ideal of political citizenship with clear boundaries and singular codes and conventions.
Keywords Finland; Federal Republic of Germany; Merkel, A.; political communication; femininity; management style; image of women; politics; gender
Classification Women's Studies, Feminist Studies, Gender Studies
Free Keywords citizenship; political communication; Tarja Halonen;
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 287-301
Journal European Journal of Cultural Studies, 9 (2006) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)