In response to Kathleen Hall Jamieson's proposed agenda for future Presidential debate research, we recall the troubled relation between debate and conviction, which has fueled disciplinary and public controversy throughout the last century. Following a brief genealogy of three such controversies, we describe four models of debate as a cultural technology for managing the economy of moral conviction: debate as critical deliberation, debate as civic virtue, debate as social justice, and debate as game. We claim that reading Jamieson's proposal in light of these technologies reveals a potentially disturbing fault line: if we fail to distance the aims and methods of Presidential debate research from the game-like status of contemporary electoral politics, her research proposal will be subsumed by the professionalized communication apparatus of managed democracy.
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© 2015, © 2015 National Communication Association.
- Cultural Technology
- Managed Democracy