In an era dominated by the rapid flow of information, the battleground of elections has expanded into the digital realm, giving rise to a new adversary: information pollution. The intricate web of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation threatens the very essence of democratic processes. However, a group of individuals, often overlooked but rapidly gaining prominence, is stepping forward to safeguard the integrity of election campaigns. These unsung heroes, known as moral entrepreneurs, are not only changing the dynamics of political discourse but also shaping the political economy of information pollution during election campaigns.
As part of disseminating the findings of my study conducted during my research fellowship at RUDN University in Moscow, Russia, I delve into the underlying political economy that drives their influence.
The Dynamics of Moral Entrepreneurship
Moral entrepreneurs are a diverse ensemble, including academics, NGOs, CSOs, traditional rulers, and religious leaders. Their collective mission is clear: to enforce adherence to existing legal rules and election campaign guidelines, aiming to maintain a clean and transparent campaign environment. This seemingly altruistic endeavour has a deeper impact on the political economy of elections.
Shaping Political Behaviour
Moral entrepreneurs play a role beyond just challenging unethical behaviours; they influence the very behaviour of political actors. By emphasizing the importance of rule enforcement, these entrepreneurs redefine the political landscape. Their focus on ‘rule enforcement entrepreneurs’ signifies the political economy of accountability. When political actors are held accountable for their information dissemination, a higher level of discourse emerges. In this political ecosystem, the cost of misinformation rises, promoting a more responsible approach.
Fact-Checking as a Currency
Fact-checking and awareness campaigns are the currency that moral entrepreneurs invest in to counter information pollution. They recognize that information is the cornerstone of political power. By championing fact-checking practices and encouraging responsible reporting, these entrepreneurs reshape the political economy of information credibility. In this new paradigm, credible information becomes a valuable commodity, shaping public opinion and influencing voting behaviour.
The collaboration between moral entrepreneurs, media practitioners, journalists, and stakeholders transforms the landscape of political discourse. This partnership is the bedrock of a new form of collaborative capitalism, where information reliability becomes a shared interest. Media practitioners collaborate with moral entrepreneurs to prioritize fact-checking processes and ensure accurate information reaches the public. In return, these collaborations elevate the stature of media organizations as purveyors of truth.
The Power of Influence
Moral entrepreneurs not only challenge political actors but also impact government agencies, electoral bodies, and voters. Their recommendations transcend mere suggestions; they shape the very structure of the election environment. Government agencies and electoral bodies are urged to actively enforce laws that combat information pollution, shaping the legal framework around election campaigns. Voters are reminded of their role as gatekeepers, entrusted with the power to critically evaluate and fact-check information, reducing the impact of misinformation.
Upholding Democracy: The Ultimate Return
In a democratic society, the currency of influence transcends monetary gain. The true return on investment for moral entrepreneurs is a democracy fortified by ethical campaigns, credible information, and responsible political behaviour. Their actions not only shape the outcome of elections but also the political economy of the nation itself. Collaborative efforts among stakeholders, from media practitioners and politicians to voters and government agencies, cement the foundation of democratic principles.
The rise of moral entrepreneurs marks a paradigm shift in the political economy of information pollution during election campaigns. Their influence extends beyond the election period, shaping the trajectory of democracy itself. As Nigeria’s democratic landscape continues to evolve, the significance of these moral entrepreneurs will only grow, propelling the nation toward a future where integrity, accountability, and ethical conduct form the pillars of its political economy.