Emotion as the basis of a new relationship pattern between institutions and citizens, based first on mutual trust and on an “affective” bond. Public and sentimental spheres thus find a new and original interactive space

A widespread prejudice in communication is that seduction, feelings and emotions are sole prerogatives of marketing and advertising. Emotions are commonly perceived as utterly distant from institutions: sentimental and public sphere seem to be two radically distinct and irreconcilable worlds.

Yet today, like never before, institutions are called to engage, “hug”, assure, or even amuse, move or outrage their own counterparts. Shortly, in Ben Hammersley’s words, Institutions must “learn to kiss”, i.e. to establish an authentic relationship of equals with their partners. Only Communication can teach them how.

Communication is mainly a form of relationship indeed. Yet relationships are not always the same. The vertical and asymmetric link between producers and consumers, based on the product’s usage and symbolic value, has been replaced by a relationship resting on immaterial and identity values, moulding the new citizen consumer role in a horizontal and symmetric peer relationship, both interchangeable and reversible. Like all relationships of equals, it needs trust and the ability to trust someone, rather than depending upon someone.

However, trust can’t exist without emotions. Hence the need for public actors to define communication and strongly emotional paths, able to enhance citizens’ engagement and commitment in a sentimental relationship that goes beyond the simple seductive rule of advertisement.

Finally, in every project, even though mundane and “didactic”, “finding the kiss” is needed. It’s the only way to build an effective communication and overthrow the prejudice of a distant and inaccessible Institution, but actually never so close to its citizens.



ICS Editorial

Design is a thought activity: we should not replace it with a mere “optimizing” approach, because it’s from imperfections that talent emerges.


Some photos may be taken from the web and be considered public domain; photos' owners who oppose to the publication can write to contact@pomilio.com