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Campaign Signs Are Material Symbolic Expressions

By Author: Mark Gary
Total Articles: 61

This past is surely related to voter turnout rates, arguably the best measure of democratic health. "The Southern System, of course, greatly reduced black electoral participation so that even as late as the 1950's [sic] less than twenty percent of southern blacks cast presidential ballots" (Archer and Taylor 1981, p. 161). By the 1960s, efforts to change this were met with resistance, violence, and terrorism. For attempting to register to vote, to help or encourage others to register, or for attempting to actually vote, people were threatened, beaten, and sometimes killed (see Dwyer 2000). Race remains a political hot button here today: "Practicing politicians in the South know that racial attitudes still motivate a significant portion of the electorate in Cartier Jewelry a way that is not true outside the South". Further, just as black citizens were excluded from the voting process, the type of public discourse that a campaign sign would represent would have been off-limits too. Though much has changed and disparities are generally reduced, contemporary patterns illustrate both legacies of exclusion.

Campaign signs are material symbolic expressions. In a place where politics and race have such a complex relationship, the symbolism in these expressions may be complexly tied to the social and political relations of the past. In this place, the ephemeral landscape that a sign makes exists within a historical context of racism and political exclusion. In that way, the landscape of ethnic difference in the propensity to post signs reflects uneven ethnic divisions and historical political disenfranchisement around which this bifurcated society developed. Examining the activity of posting signs, we gain a different perspective on participation in the political process. Further, a consideration of what may be called sort of met communicative landscape hegemony may further elucidate these relationships.

For a long time for African Americans in the South, as a communicative device, particularly in the area of politics, the landscape was as off-limits as the voting booth. Until recent decades, a political statement Tiffany Jewelry such as campaign sign visible to the public and creating an active political space would have certainly brought an unwelcome response. In this way, met communicative landscape hegemony may be said to have characterized conditions, a legacy that today may be evident in the landscape of campaign sign postings. Such a public communicative landscape may be utilized differently, depending on how free different people feel to make public expressions. From this perspective, it may be that this landscape element also serves to reinforce what is normative in this hierarchical society, a visible expression that communicates political affiliations, but that also reminds residents of who participates and how. In this way, the landscape may be a particularly relevant component of the ongoing evolution of electoral behavior.

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