Deen Freelon, Meredith L. Pruden, Daniel Malmer
Communication Studies, Political Communication, Race
“[O]ur field does not consider race to be an especially relevant factor in the study of political communication, and racism even less so.”
So conclude Deen Freelon, Meredith Pruden, and Daniel Malmer in their new piece “#politicalcommunicationsowhite: Race and Politics in Nine Communication Journals, 1991-2021,” released today in Political Communication.
Race is a potent political force in U.S. (and global) politics and political communication. To study polarization, mis and disinformation, and negative campaigning without accounting for race, the authors argue, leaves vital questions unanswered. Instead, much of our understanding of the role of race in political communication comes from outside the field, with important contributions from legal scholarship and political science.
In the face of rising anti-Black police violence and increasingly tolerance for outright racism since Trump's election (Jardina, 2019), political communication remains silent. As Freelon, Pruden, and Malmer argue, "we must confront the possibility that [racism] is simply being ignored, and that we therefore have little idea of how race affects the production, content, distribution, reception, and effects of political communication."
The authors call for political communication scholars to take up race in their work, echoing an earlier call from Daniel Kreiss that “that if we want to understand communication, we must account for social and cultural difference, and especially race and ethnicity.”