Politically Relevant Intimacy: A Conceptual and Empirical Investigation
The trends of media personalization and intimization, alongside the growing recognition of the intricate relationship between the private and public spheres, raise complex questions about the ways in which politicians’ private lives are linked to the political realm. This article develops the term politically relevant intimacy, referring to texts in which matters of the public sphere are being tied to the discourse surrounding politicians’ personal lives. We identify two major types of political relevance—issue based and conduct based—and apply this framework to a comparative analysis of mediated manifestations of politicians’ intimate lives in Israel and the United States. Differences in level and type of politically relevant intimacy are found between news coverage and Facebook posts, as well as between the two countries. No significant differences are found between female and male politicians. We discuss implications for future research and for the citizenry in democracies.