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It's time (and space): How a broadcast mindset influences the design of election campaign materials in the digital age

Rainey, Amanda (2020) It's time (and space): How a broadcast mindset influences the design of election campaign materials in the digital age. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis explains how Australian campaigners conceptualise the purpose of campaign materials, and how they design and assess their effectiveness based on this. I identify a “broadcast mindset” that reflects the assumptions and practices of campaigning in the broadcast age. This mentality is more evident in major party campaigners who, due to their financial resources and incumbency, have better access to relatively limited broadcast platforms. Minor party campaigners, by comparison, have developed alternative understandings of the purpose of campaign materials, which reflect their reliance on alternative mediums for building and maintaining relationships with voters.

My theory of this broadcast mindset builds on danah boyd’s analysis of the dynamics of the networked public sphere, and the role of media affordances in reshaping public and private interactions. Using grounded theory methods to analyse how contemporary Australian political campaigners think about the design of campaign materials, I derived six categories to explain their approach. Using these categories I also explain how broadcast media affordances helped shape the design of campaign materials, and why the broadcast mindset persists into the digital age. These categories are: the campaign and party structures they work in; the audience, particularly but not exclusively voters; how campaigners obtain and interpret research; how they develop their message; and how these aspects shape the design of campaign materials. Finally, I identified the core category of medium, which explains why existing assumptions about campaigning emerged, and why they are no longer relevant for the digital media environment. My contribution to knowledge is to identify the common assumptions and practices informing the design of Australian election campaign materials, and to show how new media environments affect how campaigners and voters engage with one another by reshaping space and time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Supervisor(s): Medley, S., Kueh, C., Cook, Ian, Smyth, Chris, Grehan, Helena and Trees, Kathryn
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