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Lo-fi politics: hi-tech societies, populism and low-fidelity communication

Head: Nello Barile

Year 2019

The research aims to examine the lo-fi aesthetic that, from a purely counter-cultural phenomenon linked to alternative music of the 1990s, has been transformed into a mainstream form of communication capable of influencing contemporary political communication. From Trump's typos (the famous "cofveveve" transformed into a catchphrase on social media), through Alternative Für Deutchland's "ostalgic" aesthetics, to the clash from the roofs of our own leaders, the lo-fi style seems to accompany the attempt to impose a new cultural hegemony.

The research examines Salvini's emergence as a leading figure in the new national political scenario in at least three key factors:

  1. sovereign repositioning;
  2. the permanent social media-led election campaign;
  3. the aesthetics of imperfection that characterize him as a "low-fidelity hyper-leader" (Barile 2019).

The analysis focuses on how the link that the political leader cultivates with his community in digital platforms is conceived and developed. The repositioning of Salvini as a populist/sovereign leader is a consequence of the landslide of the middle class that has put the centrist parties into further crisis, determining the coming together of two opposed but complementary political formations - M5S and Lega. 

The study uses the netnographic method (Kozinet 2015) to analyze the feedback of 21 live streams shared on its official Facebook fan page during the elections of 4 March 2018, and 21 between the last European elections and the crisis of the so-called 'government of change'. The results suggest that the low fidelity of communication is a response of the political selfbrand (Barile 2015) to the changed media ecosystem. The use of all available channels (territory, traditional media, social media) aims to strengthen the political/electoral link, creating spaces for disintermediate confrontation and the active and empathetic participation of the public.

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