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Imagining the Polity: Cinema and Television Fictions as Vernacular Theories of British Politics

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nick Randall


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This article suggests that political fictions can play a significant role for citizens in permitting them to imagine how key processes work within polities. Using the concept of ‘vernacular theory', it explores how politicians’ behaviour, the operation of British political institutions and the country's external relations are theorised across a range of films and television programmes in the three decades since 1979. The article also attempts to account for and assess the vernacular theories observed. It concludes that while these fictions all too frequently theorise a dysfunctional political system and depict self-interested and incompetent politicians, we should not isolate or overstate the potency of vernacular theories, nor neglect the responsibilities of elected politicians in relation to their fictional counterparts.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Randall N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Parliamentary Affairs

Year: 2011

Volume: 64

Issue: 2

Pages: 263-280

Print publication date: 21/12/2010

ISSN (print): 0031-2290

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2482

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsq054


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