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Berlusconi Between Politics and Popular Culture

  • Author(s): Schneider, Brandon Blair
  • Advisor(s): Fuller, Mia
  • et al.
Abstract

In this dissertation I contextualize the political protagonism of Silvio Berlusconi with respect to important heroes of contemporary Italian popular culture. Comparing Berlusconi to the protagonists of Italy's dramatized television series and TV-movies, I consider the political and pop cultural significance of his behavior through Antonio Gramsci's theories of hegemony and the national popular. I locate Berlusconi's political connection to contemporary Italian popular culture by briefly contrasting it to past iterations of the politics-popular culture relationship in Italy and the United States, and to its likely future configurations in Italy.

My research shows that while Berlusconi is often a potent and educative symbol of a hegemonic, conservative national popular culture, he is also often at odds with important components of said culture. This finding adds nuance to most contemporary considerations of Berlusconi's power, which frequently posit his political and cultural influence as monolithic. Increasing social and cultural fragmentation in Italy suggests that the "Berlusconis" of the future will likewise embody a charismatic and spectacular form of politics, though they will be bereft of Berlusconi's wider political-cultural syncing, which, while never perfect, has nevertheless been the historically most significant facet of his influence.

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