Politics as unusual: in Jamaica, elections are becoming sensationalistic political spectacles. How can resource-limited organizations get an accurate picture of public opinion?
Like it or not, media marketing strategies used in the business and political worlds are becoming more and more similar. Today's political consultants--entrusted with the tricky task of trying to sell politicians and policies to fiche Same as microfiche. electorates--increasingly find themselves applying the same communication strategies that have worked well for the corporate world selling products to consumers.
Historically, this convergence of corporate and political communication strategies arrived first in the advanced industrial democracies--in Europe, the U.S., Japan and Australia. In the post-World War II period, rapid development in those countries of new technologies such as television, photocopying, faxing, personal computers and the Internet spawned an accelerating "telecommunications revolution," which, in turn, accelerated the process of globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation . While this electronic revolution in telecommunications has been slower to reach developing countries like Jamaica due to resource mitations, its impact is now unmistakable here as well. As elsewhere, business and political communication in Jamaica have come to resemble each other.
Of course, this was not always the case. For centuries, most of the communication between candidates and voters took place through the media of political parties and organized interest groups. Political practices were local, and political organizing was labor-intensive, rather than capital-intensive. Skillful skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.
2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. organizing, exhaustive door-to-door footwork and mobilizing bodies to participate directly in key political events were the keys to victory. The central strategists and planners of that day were the party leaders and political bosses, who wielded most of the influence and orchestrated communication with the populace through word of mouth, banners, pamphlets and newspapers.
With the advent of advanced telecommunications technologies, however, what it takes to win politically changed dramatically. The influence of parties, interest groups and political bosses began to recede re·cede 1
intr.v. re·ced·ed, re·ced·ing, re·cedes
1. To move back or away from a limit, point, or mark: waited for the floodwaters to recede.
2. , upstaged by the rising professions of political consulting Political consulting is the business which has grown up around advising and assisting political campaigns, primarily in the United States. As democracy has spread around the world, American political consultants have often developed an international base of clients. , opinion polling and image management.
Though there have been delays due to its impoverished, developing-nation status, Jamaica, like other democracies in Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. and the Caribbean, has witnessed the slow, steady emergence of American-style postmodern politics. With the growing reliance among its middle and upper classes on television, computers, mobile phones and the Internet, the Internet, the, international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises realities of Jamaican electoral politics are becoming more technological and more mass-mediated.
In this altered, electronic environment, strategically timed national opinion polls and symbolic media messages crafted by political consultants have become almost as important in shaping Jamaican voters' views of their world as the more tangible realities of economic conditions and class interests. Grassroots organizing Grassroots organizing is a political practice to create social change. Grassroots organizing is based on the power of the people to take collective action on their own behalf. and the material conditions of life still obviously matter--one is constantly reminded of the existence of widespread poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption. But the political momentum gained by Jamaican politicians in recent elections has been won through mass persuasion and through carefully staged televised political performances--not as a result of delivering tangible benefits (which are scarce) to the electorate. In postmodern electoral contests, a pivotal source of power and strategic advantage belongs to whoever "defines the reality"--that is, whoever is in a position to frame the media debates over social issues and determine which interpretations are appropriate to place on the national agenda for public consideration. He or she who "defines" (via opinion surveys and mass electronic media) wins.
As University of Wisconsin political scientist Murray Edelman Murray J. Edelman (1919 – January 26, 2001) was an American political scientist known for his research on symbolic politics and political psychology. Career
Edelman received a bachelor's degree in social sciences from Bucknell University in 1941 points out in Constructing the Political Spectacle A long tradition of work in political science on political spectacle (Anthropologist Meg McLagan suggest as examples Edelman 1988 and Wedeen 1999), started with the work of Guy Debord since 1950s (see his 1967 major work, and Situationist); many literary critics and , like it or not, in Jamaica as elsewhere, these postmodern-era elections are becoming sensationalistic sen·sa·tion·al·ism
a. The use of sensational matter or methods, especially in writing, journalism, or politics.
b. Sensational subject matter.
c. Interest in or the effect of such subject matter. political spectacles. Through tabloid-style media accounts, voters find themselves exposed daily to the results of computer-analyzed national opinion polls. A recent front-page story in the online version of the Jamaica Observer, for example, featured the sober findings of a national election poll, illustrated with brightly colored comic-book-style caricatures of Bruce Golding Orette Bruce Golding MP (born 5 December 1947) is Prime Minister of Jamaica and leader of the Jamaica Labour Party. Golding became prime minister following his party's slim victory in the 2007 Jamaican general election held on September 3 and former Prime Minister Portia (leader of the opposition) as The Incredible Hulk and Portia Simpson-Miller Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller, ON, MP (born 12 December 1945 in Wood Hall, St. Catherine Parish) is Jamaica's Leader of the Opposition and was the country's Prime Minister from 30 March 2006 to 11 September 2007.
She replaced outgoing Prime Minister P. J. (the prime minister) as Superwoman su·per·wom·an
1. A woman who performs all the duties typically associated with several different full-time roles, such as wage earner, graduate student, mother, and wife.
2. A woman with more than human powers. . As is becoming more common in Jamaican media, the front-page lead political story and the comic strips
These same postmodern e-trends can also be seen in television coverage of politics on the two major national stations, TVJ TVJ Television Jamaica
TVJ The Vernon Journal and CVM. As evidenced in the recent electoral contest between the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party, "eye-witness" television news coverage tends to emphasize visual imagery and emotional appeals over the substance of rational public discourse. Political news tends to be dramatized, fragmented, personalized and reduced to sound bites. So-called campaign events, such as the recent televised Jamaica Labour Party and People's National Party conferences, tend to be staged rather than occur spontaneously. Political talk shows and issue debates are, in fact, heavily scripted, including body language and newsworthy sound bites. Emotional appeals tend to prevail over ideas, symbols over substance, personal images over public issues.
What are the implications of these trends for political consulting and opinion survey firms operating in the Caribbean? Staying competitive in an electronic-media-intense environment requires that one develop appropriate, cost-effective and well-integrated ways of conducting marketing and polling research, making full use of the available technologies, yet doing so on a lean budget. Maintaining this delicate balance becomes especially critical to success in less developed, more resource-limited countries such as Jamaica.
To address the underdeveloped social conditions that persist in Verb 1. persist in - do something repeatedly and showing no intention to stop; "We continued our research into the cause of the illness"; "The landlord persists in asking us to move"
continue much of Jamaica (and which paradoxically exist alongside the postmodern electronic realities), specialized strategies in polling and survey management have been developed by firms such as Behavioural and Market Research International (BMRI). BMRI's strategy combines principles of project management with several key elements of strategic management that have been used successfully over the years by Fortune 500 corporations. This hybrid approach is sometimes referred to as strategic polling and survey management (SPSM SPSM Senior Professional in Supply Management (certification)
SPSM State Prison of Southern Michigan (Jackson County, MI; now closed)
SPSM Supply Point Simulation Model
SPSM Single-Program Speculatives Multithreading ), and seems well suited to the needs of underdeveloped environments.
There are several lessons that business enterprises planning to conduct survey and/or polling exercises in the Caribbean can learn from BMRI's experiences with regard to use of SPSM in Jamaica. The strategy BMRI uses is participatory, has several integrative phases and often operates at multiple levels simultaneously.
First, a broad, inclusive focus group is convened with all relevant stakeholders Stakeholders
All parties that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in a firm-stockholders, creditors, bondholders, employees, customers, management, the community, and the government. : those who commissioned the project, those hired to design the survey instrument, those responsible for the overall study design, those who will be collecting the data and their supervisors, and a small sampling of those who could be described as typical interviewees or study participants. An initial draft of the survey instrument and the survey strategy (type, process, scheduling and so on) is developed and reviewed by all to ensure that the objectives and goals are met and will work well across all levels.
Once the instrument and the survey strategy are finalized, the next phase is the fieldwork. This is done using information and communication technologies wherever possible, such as GIS (geographic information systems geographic information system (GIS)
Computerized system that relates and displays data collected from a geographic entity in the form of a map. The ability of GIS to overlay existing data with new information and display it in colour on a computer screen is used primarily to ) mapping and locating, and real-time data Real-time data denotes information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided.
Some uses of this term confuse it with the term dynamic data. transfer protocols using wireless handheld and mobile devices. Coordination and communication are key ingredients during this phase, and a command center is established to facilitate these. From this command center, the project manager can control the many different tasks associated with orchestrating the project and keep it on track in terms of objectives, costs and deadlines. At this stage in the Jamaican context, special sampling techniques and interviewer training are required to overcome the problems of hard-to-reach low-income respondents, illiteracy and the varying dialects spoken on different parts of the island.
After the data are collected, the data entry phase begins. This typically requires that the project manager assemble completed instruments from the field and organize the data entry tasks in such a way as to maximize on time. A small team of trained data entry clerks digitizes the data, which are then compiled using software such as the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (statistics, tool) Statistical Package for the Social Sciences - (SPSS) The flagship program of SPSS, Inc., written in the late 1960s.
["SPSS X User's Guide", SPSS, Inc. 1986]. .
Finally, various statistical analyses of the data are undertaken, and the relevant tables and graphs generated, based on deliverables. In some cases, depending on the project purpose and design, this final phase may instead involve the use of qualitative-analysis computer programs, if the data include interviews or language-related observations. Throughout this entire process, various quality assurance checks are done, from field visits to data-screening checks.
This electronic-media-intensive SPSM approach to marketing and polling research has been applied successfully in Jamaica to:
* Opinion polls for a prominent national newspaper (the Jamaica Observer's Stone Polls).
* Biannual bi·an·nu·al
1. Happening twice each year; semiannual.
2. Occurring every two years; biennial.
bi·an polls for the local university (the Jamaica Leadership and Governance polls sponsored by the Centre for Leadership and Governance at the University of the West Indies The university consists of three major campuses at Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, and Cave Hill in Barbados, together with a satellite campus in Mount Hope, Trinidad and Tobago and a Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management in Nassau, Bahamas. ).
* National polls for the Jamaica Economy Project.
* Consumer marketing surveys for private companies.
Because it consciously and intentionally addresses the demands of today's electronic-media--intense political and business environments, SPSM is a helpful strategy in generating accurate, reliable data on a timely basis, and is an especially valuable management tool in less developed contexts such as Jamaica, where resources will inevitably be limited.
what is spsm?
Strategic polling and survey management (SPSM) is that set of logistical processes and activities that are used to effectively manage and negotiate the resources, the environmental circumstances and the core objectives of a polling/survey exercise within time, scope, quality and cost parameters. SPSM typically involves crafting an integrated strategy designed to implement, execute, control and evaluate the planned survey exercise.
about the authors
Lawrence Alfred Powell, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer senior lecturer
n. Chiefly British
A university teacher, especially one ranking next below a reader. at the University of the West Indies, where he acts as polling director for the Centre for Leadership and Governance. He also writes the national opinion questions for the Jamaica Observer's Stone Polls.
Lloyd Waller, Ph.D., is a lecturer in qualitative and quantitative methodology at the University of the West Indies. He serves as project manager for Behavioural and Market Research International and for the Centre for Leadership and Governance, and coordinates the fieldwork for the national Stone Polls.