Week Ten

Technology and politics will always be connected in some way to one another. Of course there are different types of technology used by governments two of which being media-based technologies and weaponry. Both can easily be used against the people, in the case of media (newspaper, radio, tv), to promote certain negative ideals, point of views or false information and in the case of weapons I feel it is fairly self explanatory.

This week Dawson focuses on more media based technologies, particularly the radio and leaders ability to make use of it. He starts by noting that in the 19th century and before the use of the radio was widespread “crowds were…most often unable to sustain movements that went much further than the village boundary for any length of time” (209). With increasing urbanization in the 20th century and more availibility to certain technologies people became more connected. The radio allowed people to listen to the same music, radionovelas, and historietas, it “produced new forms of nationalist sentiment” and “blurred the boundaries between classes” (210). As I somewhat mentioned previously, governments also saw this as a useful tool because they could broadcast to more people whatever they wanted in part because it made information available to people who were illiterate.

Dawson saw Vargas from Brazil and Cardenas from Mexico as mediocre users of the radio, but unable to reach the full potential that the technology offered. A good point that was made was that they had too much competition from other channels and were not compelling enough to draw people to their programs. People preferred the popular stations rather than the government ones. I agree that Cardenas did a better job though by broadcasting speeches and announcing important decisions over the radio- nationalizing the oil industry and getting rid of foreign companies- which helped him receive support from the people. Peron in Argentina was deemed to be the greatest user of the radio as he was fairly charismatic and I think more importantly was able to connect with the people through pop culture. He “mixed tango lyrics in his speeches”, which were popular amongst the people, so they were able to connect to what he was saying more. Arguably, his wife, Evita and “her status as a radio star” was even more useful (223). She was able to use her voice and fame to bring attention to Peronism. She was not limited to this however, and created a foundation that was “the most important social agency in Argentina” at the time (224).

The importance, it seems to me, is to use all parts of new technologies. It was simply not enough to just use the radio, but to be fully effective one has to make use of the culture that comes along with it as Peron and Evita did. I suppose that is a large part in what populism is, finding a way to connect to the people on a level that they understand and can associate with. As well as, making use of the “nationalist sentiment” that the radio created in order to lead the people to a particular political cause or group (210).

How effective/important do you think technology and popular culture was/still is in politics?

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