Articles

Angels gedoopt in honing : politieke tekeningen en hun betekenis

Author
  • Joop van Holsteyn orcid logo

Abstract

Over the years, politica! cartoons have triggered debate and fierce and violent reactions. Apparently, cartoonists are able to get their critical, 'negative' message across both to the political elite and the general public at large. This line of reasoning, however, assumes that the communication between cartoonists and their mass public is successful, i.e., that the message that the cartoonist intends to send is correctly interpreted and received as intended. This is not obvious, since the decoding of the encrypted message of a cartoon is a compl icated process that can easily go wrong, as the scarce research on the topic suggests. This study explores the idea that cartoons are correctly understood on the basis of a unique large scale survey in which over 24,000 respondents were asked via multiple-choice questions to identify the original, intended message of 11 cartoons of two Dutch cartoonists. The results show that overall it is extremely hard to correctly understand the meaning of cartoons. Moreover, among the few factors that help explain the difference in the capability to correctly understand cartoons, political preference is prominent and intriguing. People tend to ascribe a meaning to cartoons/cartoonists that fits their own political stand, and this suggests that psychological mechanisms are at work that may explain that more often than not the communication between the cartoonist and his public should likely be labelled miscommunication.

How to Cite:

van Holsteyn, J., (2015) “Angels gedoopt in honing : politieke tekeningen en hun betekenis”, Res Publica 57(3), p.319-349.

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Published on
29 Sep 2015
Peer Reviewed
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