Murray Edelman holds a unique and distinguished position in American political science. For decades one of the few serious scholars to question dominant rational-choice interpretations of politics, Edelman looked instead to the powerful influence of signs, spectacles, and symbols—of culture—on political behavior and political institutions. His first, now classic, book, The Symbolic Uses of Politics, created paths of inquiry in political science, communication studies, and sociology that are still being explored today.
In this book, Edelman continues his quest to understand the influence of perception on the political process by turning to the role of art. He argues that political ideas, language, and actions cannot help but be based upon the images and narratives we take from literature, paintings, film, television, and other genres. Edelman believes art provides us with models, scenarios, narratives, and images we draw upon in order to make sense of political events, and he explores the different ways art can shape political perceptions and actions to both promote and inhibit diversity and democracy.
"Elegantly written. . . . He brilliantly contends that art helps create the images from which opinion-molders and citizens construct the social realities of politics."—Choice
"It is perhaps the freshness with which he puts his case that is what makes From Art to Politics, as well as his other works, so challenging and invigorating."—Philip Abbott, Review of Politics