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Political scandal and the politics of exposure : from Watergate to Lewinsky and beyond.

Welch, S. E. (2007) 'Political scandal and the politics of exposure : from Watergate to Lewinsky and beyond.', Politics and ethics review., 3 (2). pp. 181-199.


The paper advances an interpretation of political scandal and its place in democratic politics, taking the scandals of the ‘Watergate era’ in American politics as its evidential basis. The interpretation focuses on an aspect of political scandal that has been neglected in existing treatments, namely the politically constructed rather than epistemologically simple nature of scandalous ‘exposure’. The career of the ‘smoking gun’ in the Watergate era provides illustration. The paper goes on to relate political scandal as both symptom and stimulus to trends in late-modern democratization concerning ‘hyperpolitics’ (political contestation at all stages of the decision-making process) and ‘metainformation’ (information about the providers of information). On this basis, the generalization of scandal politics as a typical mode of democratic politics is suggested.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Hyperpolitics, Iran-Contra, Lewinsky, meta-information, political scandal, Watergate.
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:26 January 2010
Date of first online publication:October 2007
Date first made open access:No date available

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