Smileys Without Borders. A Critique of Transboundary Interaction Between Politicians, Journalists and PR Practitioners on Social Media

  • Peter Berglez School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University
Keywords: Politicians, journalists, PR practitioners, social media, cross-professional relations, Twitter, transboundary interaction, critical theory, neoliberalized logics, individualization, flexibilization, Churnalism


The purpose of the article is to contribute a critical theoretical understanding of cross-professional relations on social media, focusing on politicians, journalists and PR practitioners. It is well known that these professional groups establish personal and close relations in offline contexts, but more attention needs to be paid to the role of social media. Here, it is argued that, in the context of digital media use, semi-private chatting, humour, and mutual acknowledgement, including the use of likes, smileys, heart symbols, etc. are evidence of a 'neoliberalization' of cross-professional relations. The underlying idea is that the common practice of self-branding undermines representations of professional belonging and exacerbates the blurring of professional boundaries. The critical conceptualization of such 'transboundary' interaction between politicians, journalists and PR practitioners, which is guided by a cultural materialist approach, includes the presentation of examples deriving from the Swedish Twittersphere, and suggestions for empirical research.

Author Biography

Peter Berglez, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University
Peter Berglez, Professor of Media and Commuication Science, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University, Sweden