Imagining Politics

Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television
Stephen Benedict Dyson


Imagining Politics critically examines two interpretations of government. The first comes from pop culture fictions about politics, the second from academic political science. Stephen Benedict Dyson argues that televised political fictions and political science theories are attempts at meaning-making, reflecting and shaping how a society thinks about its politics.

By taking fiction seriously, and by arguing that political science theory is homologous to fiction, the book offers a fresh perspective on both, using fictions such as The West Wing, House of Cards, Borgen, Black Mirror, and Scandal to challenge the assumptions that construct the discipline of political science itself.
Imagining Politics is also about a political moment in the West. Two great political shocks—Brexit and the election of Donald Trump—are set in a new context here. Dyson traces how Brexit and Trump campaigned against our image of politics as usual, and won.

Imagining Politics is a first-rate work of scholarship. Popular culture as conveyed through television shows, such as The West Wing and Yes, Minister, can help to explain the political world. The study provides an innovative account of the populist turn in multiple locations around the world. This is essential reading.”
—Patrick James, University of Southern California

“This is an important and engaging resource for scholars and researchers because of the way that Dyson weaves understandings of fictional narrative into an understanding of the embedded narrative that constructs an entire academic discipline. Dyson integrates popular culture and narratives while analyzing the narratives that shape and form political science as a discipline, exploring the connections between stories told in different contexts. Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television guides the reader through a fascinating interpretation of politics, from diverse vantage points, but through an understanding of the role of narratives.”
—Lilly Goren, Carroll University

Imagining Politics makes an interesting, novel, and important intervention into the political science literature. The book is crafty—it gets readers to learn about some particularly dry areas of political science by enticing us with Scandal and House of Cards—nicely done.”
—Renée Ann Cramer, Drake University
“When a reality television personality becomes the President of the United States, it’s time to pay attention to what television can tell us about politics. Stephen Benedict Dyson has the unusual ability to bridge political science and popular culture and find the “useful fictions” in both.”
—John Sides, George Washington University


Stephen Benedict Dyson is Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut.

Product Details

  • 162 pages.
  • 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2019
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12588-3

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  • The West Wing; House of Cards; Scandal; Borgen; The Thick of It; Yes, Minister; Black Mirror; The Apprentice; Rational Actor Theory; Public Choice Theory; Political Science; Behavioralism; Political Science; Methods; Trump; Brexit; Interpretivism; Cultural Studies; Television; Political Fictions; The Presidency; American Politics