Post-Truth: Knowledge and Politics in Contemporary Society

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Jorge CALLES-SANTILLANA, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico
Post-truth has turned to be the most relevant political phenomenon in the last years. Defined by Ralph Keyes as any statement in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs, post-truth is perhaps one of the most serious threats to both democracy and civilized life. Politicians and journalists, who are concerned with its devastating potential, have suggested fact-checking as a post-truth antidote. Thus, the debate on this phenomenon has been set on an ethical-rational basis. On the one hand, the lack of ethical principles is attached to journalists and, on the other hand, the non-critical reception of information is assumed to be the feature of receivers.

This paper is aimed to propose theorizing post-truth on a theoretical framework wider to that based on ethical-rational concepts. Even if it is partially true that non-ethical journalistic practices and non-critical reception habits make post-truth possible, the dominance of this pattern remains unexplained. Post-truth must be studied as a particular phenomenon of the production of social knowledge in contemporary society. It must be understood as the result of the articulation of, at least, three social practices. First, news making as a professional practice based on immediacy, spectacle and the media’s need for reaching wide audiences. Second, political practices aimed to impact public opinion rather than to attend public needs and transform political and social structures. Third, information consumption based on incredulity, disenchanted representations by the audiences on politics and their need for easy and immediate solutions. This approach will be built on Anthony Giddens’ theory of structuration, Corneluis Castoriadis’ concept of social imaginary, Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory, Stuart Hall’s theory of articulation, and Serge Moscovici’s and Hall’s theories of representation.