OUTRAGE: the Craft of Political Communication

While multi-step communication is also used exceptionally, most Political Communication is usually a three-step process or a 2-step process of mass communication.

In two-step process, the political leaders and spokespersons of political parties use a one-to-many method of message-relay through public address systems in political rallies or on broadcast channels. (A political candidate speaking to the voters, making an appeal soliciting votes for himself, is a direct or one-step process).

In three-step process, the political leaders and spokespersons of political parties use a one-to-one (or few)-to-many method of message-relay through release of statements to media who in turn recode those statements and relay it to the people/audiences across different media classes, media types and media vehicles. Another version of three-step process includes repeated playback of snippets from the message of two-step process embedded in the content of the media.

Communication managers are working towards maximising the “Reach” and the “Impact” in their design of steps- the general principle being- lesser the number of steps – higher the control on the content but lower is the reach.

Depending upon the target audience, the themes and contents of message are focussed on what the political party “intends to say” with a view to obtain a “desired comprehension” among the audience. But invariably, the communication uses the appeal of “get outraged” to evoke “desired audience-action.”

Outrage can sow the seeds of a grass root movement which may turn into a new political party. Be it the revolutionary pro-activism of Netaji Bose or the passive resistance of Mahatma Gandhi, both depended upon use of outrage to mobilise mass-support and participation.

Some of the examples of different kinds of outrage noticed over the last few years include:

  • Economic Outrage (Garibi Hatao, Narmada Aandolan.. )
  • Linguistic Outrage (Hindi Hatao)
  • Caste-related Outrage (Tilak Tarajoo aur Talwaar, Inke Maaro Joote Chaar)
  • Religious Outrage (Mandir wahin banayenge…)
  • Incumbency Outrage (Bias, corruption, failure …)
  • Nationalistic Outrage (Vande Maataram …)
  • Secularist Outrage (Bhagwaa terror…)
  • Intellectual outrage (award waapsi…, Azaadi…)
  • Identity Outrage (All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, Ma Mati Manush…)
  • And so on…


Outrage can culminate into a spectrum of audience-action: from passive resistance against competing political communication to active support for the cause of the political party or even violence against the competitors.

Interpreting Outrage purely as an instrument of political communication, however, is not sufficient. The culture of getting outraged cannot be understood without its psychological context. It is part of a discourse of victimisation which is the very matrix of political competitiveness in India. The enemy responsible for the victimisation of the people may not be just other people, but even the state and the system.


“Likes” “Follows” “Shares” and “Comments” welcome.

To ensure the quality of the discussion, comments may be edited for clarity, length, and relevance. Comments that are overly promotional, mean-spirited, or off-topic may be deleted.

Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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