The rise of the celebrity politician: an effect of social media?

  • Cassandre Gratton Concordia University
Keywords: Social media, political communication, populism, celebrity politics, Justin Trudeau


In recent political literature, many have raised concerns about a growth in the ‘celebritisation of politics’, whereby politicians increasingly borrow from celebrity culture to represent themselves. Many have turned to a global rise in populism to explain this trend. Borrowing theories from communications and celebrity studies, I advance that this trend is not, at its core populistic. Rather, I argue that it is instead an adaptation of democratic representation to already existing socio-cultural trends. Given his vast popularity on social media platforms, I use Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau as a case study to support my claim, given that he profits from a vast popularity on social media but has generally refrained from using populistic rhetoric. Based on empirical studies done on his social media presence, I will demonstrate that he uses social media to capitalize on recent socio-cultural trends to showcase his political work in newly personalized ways.