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2017 - ICA's 67th Annual Conference Pages: unavailable || Words: unavailable || 
1. Wettstein, Martin. and Buechel, Florin. "Populist or Mediatized Style? Determinants of Colloquial, Emotional, and Dramatized Style of Political Communication" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ICA's 67th Annual Conference, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, USA, May 25, 2017 Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2020-02-24 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The recent success of populist political actors in several European countries and the US presidential election and the dramatization and emotional tone of political communication in news media have been the object of several theoretical and empirical studies in the past decade. It has been argued that the mediatization of politics and the convergence of populist and tabloid communication styles may foster these developments, as it helps to promote populist ideas in mass communication. In this paper, we disentangle the identity of assumed populist actors, populist communication strategies, and populist communication styles to investigate interactions between media logic and populism in Western democracies.
We find that tabloid media play a minor role in the promotion of populist communication. Opinionated weeklies, on the other hand, encourage the use of populist communication strategies and styles in their coverage on political issues - despite not paying more attention per se to populist actors. We also find that the styles commonly associated with populist actors are indeed more closely related to populist actors than they are to tabloid media.

2015 - International Communication Association 65th Annual Conference Pages: unavailable || Words: 8037 words || 
2. Sastre, Alexandra. "Blogging in Style: Negotiating Authenticity, Labor and Community in the Professionalization of Style Blogging" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association 65th Annual Conference, Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 21, 2015 Online <VIDEO/X-FLV>. 2020-02-24 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In 2010, Forbes magazine declared “the rise of the style blogger.” The style blogger’s growing success was credited largely to his or her ability to provide access to an intimacy and informality the fashion industry historically lacked. Given its innovation in an industry that has long been inaccessible, style blogging is an increasingly meaningful case study through which to understand how the professionalization of online activity is rapidly bringing forth new questions about what it means to be a producer, professional and brand. Recent work has explored style blogging in light of constructing gendered and raced identities online, yet work deals with identity questions of a different sort by specifically addressing the narratives surrounding the professionalization of this practice. Through interviews with a community of Canadian style bloggers and a textual analysis of content from two dozen blogs, it explores how discourses of community, authenticity and labor are shaping the turn from passion project to job.

2013 - International Communication Association Words: 673 words || 
3. Mueller, Marion. and Kappas, Arvid. "Politics Mitt Romney Style: Gangnam Style as a Cross-Cultural Visual Meme – Online Citizen Creativity and the Power of Digitally Facilitated Political Prosumer Participation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Hilton Metropole Hotel, London, England, <Not Available>. 2020-02-24 <>
Publication Type: Session Paper
Abstract: Politics – and U.S. presidential politics in particular – are no longer driven by television as they used to be in the past century (Müller, 1997). Political communication in the 21st century is battled, driven, and won online. Visuals play a powerful role, since visual logic is based on association rather than on argument (Müller, 2003, 2007, 2011), eliciting oftentimes strong emotional reactions, which create particular styles of visual communication, rooted in socio-cultural display rules, as well as culturally coded depiction rules within biological constraints (Müller & Kappas, 2011). However, visuals are rarely used in isolation. Rather, they are typically multimodal in nature (Mitchell, 2005; Bateman, 2008; Van Leeuwen, 2008).

This paper uses the example of a viral music video, produced by the South-Korean rapper PSY in fall 2012. Only weeks after its global online release the hits on YouTube surpassed the 450 million views mark. But not only was this online video one of the most watched cultural productions ever, enlarging the scope of mass communication‘s meaning to a global dimension. Additionally, countless prosumer produced (Toffler, 1980) variations and parodies were uploaded – from a North-Korean parody (“Kim Jong Style“), to Chile (“Cueca Style“), from a Philippine prison performance to an anti-Mitt Romney parody (“Mitt Romney Style“) in the ongoing US-presidential campaign. Music videos have already been a staple and a powerful weapon to enhance voter participation in the previous presidential election, when a video produced by the band Black Eyed Peas’ frontman Will.I.Am reproduced Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes, We Can“. This paper analyzes the cross-cultural transfer of style and meaning with the example of the cultural meme (Dawkins, 1976) “Gangnam Style“, using a mixed-method design – a pairing of political iconology and multi-level psychological science (van Leeuwen, 2001; Kappas, 2002; Müller, 2011; Müller, Kappas & Olk, 2012) in order to come to terms with the politico-visual production and reception processes in contemporary online campaigns.

Technological constraints for sophisticated audio-visual creation become less of an issue for the production of visual or multi-modal contents, due to the availability of powerful editing facilities, even on hand-held devices. Thus, source material availability, creativity, and intellectual property become determining factors for future developments in prosumer generated content in political discourse. Tools for analysis of the propagation of multi-modal memes in social networks are urgently needed as present developments focus on text-based methods, e.g., sentiment-mining (Thelwall et al., 2010).


Bateman, J. (2008). Genre and multimodality. A foundation for the systematic analysis of multimodal documents. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mitchell, W. J. T. (2005). There are no visual media. Journal of Visual Culture, 4(2), 257-266.

Müller, M. G. (1997). Politische Bildstrategien im amerikanischen Präsidentschaftswahlkampf, 1828-1996. [Political image strategies in US-presidential campaigning, 1828-1996]. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

Müller, M. G. (2003). Grundlagen der visuellen Kommunikation. [Basics of visual communication] Konstanz: UVK, utb.

Müller, M. G. (2007). What is visual communication? Past and future of an emerging field of communication research. Studies in Communication Sciences, 7(2), 7-34.

Müller, M. G. (2011). Iconography and iconology as a visual method and approach. In E. Margolis & L. Pauwels (Eds.), The Sage handbook of visual research methods (pp. 283-297). London: Sage.

Müller, M. G., & Kappas, A. (2011). Visual emotions – emotional visuals. Emotions, pathos formulae, and their relevance for communication research. In K. Döveling, C. von Scheve & E. Konijn (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of emotions and mass media (pp. 310-331). Oxon: Routledge.

Müller, M. G., Kappas, A. & Olk, B. (2012). Perceiving press photography. A new integrative model, combining iconology with psychophysiological and eye tracking methods. In J. Holsanova (Eds.), Multimodal methodologies. Special issue Visual Communication, 11(3), 297-318.

Thelwall, M., Buckley, K., Paltoglou, G., Cai, D., & Kappas, A. (2010). Sentiment strength detection in short informal text. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(12), 2544-2558.

Toffler, A. (1980). The third wave. New York: Bantham.

van Leeuwen, T. (2001). Semiotics and iconography. In T. van Leeuwen & C. Jewitt (Eds.), Handbook of visual analysis (pp. 96-118). London: Sage.

van Leeuwen, T. (2008). New forms of writing, new visual competencies. Visual Studies, 23(2), 130-135.

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