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Showing papers in "Communication and democracy in 2023"



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper argued that Skokie demonstrates a willingness by a people to preserve their way of life by limiting the liberty of a group dedicated to tyranny, and to regain some of their autonomy by deliberating about how to live as a free people.
Abstract: Empirical studies of tolerance have drawn three conclusions about tolerance, speech, and democracy: (1) that tolerance is one of the most important attributes of democracy; (2) that all groups should be tolerated, but not all activities; and (3) that elites are more willing than non-elites to tolerate extremist speech. In 1977, Skokie, Illinois revealed the conflict these conclusions elide when the citizens of Skokie reversed a decision by Skokie’s elected officials and banned a group of Nazis from demonstrating. In the words of one study, this created “an antidemocratic consensus of unambiguous scope and content.” In this article, I argue that Skokie demonstrates a willingness by a people to preserve their way of life by limiting the liberty of a group dedicated to tyranny, and to regain some of their autonomy by deliberating about how to live as a free people. Another word for this is democracy, and my understanding of this term contrasts sharply with empiricists’ understanding of it. Understanding speech by way of democracy and tolerance is rarely analyzed, but it provides for greater insight into the meaning of speech because it takes seriously the beliefs of those most affected by extremist speech.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper , the riot at the United States Capitol building on January 6, 2021, was placed within the longer history of white-led race riots in United States, as both state and vigilante actors have twisted the memory of that history toward maintaining an antidemocratic and racist status quo.
Abstract: In this article, we situate the riot at the United States Capitol building on January 6, 2021, within the longer history of white-led race riots in the United States, as both state and vigilante actors have twisted the memory of that history toward maintaining an antidemocratic and racist status quo. Motivating such riotous eruptions is what we call reactive memory in reference to the formation of historical mythologies that valorize a “return” to a whitewashed past in response to perceived threats against socioracial domination in the present. We contribute to rhetoric and communication scholarship on memory and far-right nation-building by examining the mobilization of reactive memory in “1776” discourses and the rhetoric of extremist paramilitary groups. In doing so, we demonstrate how reactive memory is conjured to justify the right’s saturation in white supremacy and antidemocratic intervention, including and especially riotous violence – not because its adherents have no other rhetorical recourse in the political state of affairs, but because they situate political violence to be their historically sanctioned prerogative.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A content analysis was performed on 97 communication degree programs offered at 55 public and private Spanish universities to ascertain whether depropagandization is influencing the ways in which they learn about propaganda and propaganda-related issues as mentioned in this paper .
Abstract: The term “propaganda” has gradually vanished from communication studies and has been substituted with a plethora of euphemisms. This relates to the notion of “depropagandization,” that is, the disappearance of the term “propaganda” from certain contexts after World War II. These changes have impacted how communication undergraduate students learn about their discipline. To ascertain whether depropagandization is influencing the ways in which they learn about propaganda and propaganda-related issues – and, consequently, the ways in which civic education on communication is approached – a content analysis was performed on 97 communication degree programs offered at 55 public and private Spanish universities. We analyze the degrees and courses addressing propaganda-related topics, the key terms employed in the titles of the courses, and the relationship between propaganda-related curricula and power, ideology, and the historical past. Results indicate that the Spanish academic world is immersed in a process of depropagandization, thus giving rise to a potentially uncritical – and euphemism-laden – approach to propaganda. Given the relevance that the critical appraisal of propaganda has for democratic societies, depropagandization may undermine the development of a discriminating citizenry, as well as the assessment of potentially harmful messages.

Journal ArticleDOI
Qian Wang1

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors conducted a rhetorical analysis of congressional town hall meta-deliberation through news articles, town hall videos, and other public documents, and found that meta-decision about town halls leads to conflict and delegitimization based on their amorphous and conflicting purposes.
Abstract: Congressional town hall meetings are prominent political forums in the United States where constituents and members of Congress publicly converse on exigent policy issues, but they have seldom received scholarly attention. This study analyzes one aspect of congressional town halls: their contested meanings in public discourse. I conduct a rhetorical analysis of congressional town hall “meta-deliberation” through news articles, town hall videos, and other public documents. The analysis shows that meta-deliberation about town halls leads to conflict and delegitimization based on two factors: their amorphous and conflicting purposes and efforts to frame them as indicators of public opinion. Competing visions of town halls and speculations of inauthentic participants problematize town halls as sites for democratic action.


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors used machine learning to identify the presence of incivility in tweets made by and directed at local officials representing a metropolitan area over an 18-month period and examine its implications.
Abstract: Although social media have created novel opportunities for the public and local elected officials representing city or state governments to interact, concerns have been raised about the tenor of their discourse. We used machine learning in this project to identify the presence of incivility in tweets (N = 38,218) made by and directed at local officials representing a metropolitan area over an 18-month period and examine its implications. Compared to tweets made by local officials, incivility was 2.20 times as likely in tweets from the public directed at officials. Incivility was more likely to generate audience engagement, however, when used by officials but not by the public. Whereas the rate of retweets received by local officials was 2.10 times as high when they used incivility compared to when they did not, the retweet rate for the public was 0.57 times as high when their tweets directed at officials contained incivility.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper , the authors demonstrate how agents and institutions of patriarchy detach the term "AOC" from Ocasio-Cortez and repurpose it as a site of political contestation.
Abstract: Few US representatives have captivated the public forum like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known popularly as AOC. While not to discount authentic support for Ocasio-Cortez, conservative pundits and politicians account for most of the mentions of “AOC” in news discourse. These utterances often operate more as rhetorical manifestations of ideology than as referents to Ocasio-Cortez. Through abstruction analysis, we demonstrate how agents and institutions of patriarchy detach the term “AOC” from Ocasio-Cortez and repurpose it as a site of political contestation. As theorized, abstructions result from the aggregate reactions to individual political agents who interrogate anti-democratic power. Read as threats to hegemony, these agents and their identifiers undergo the ideological processes of abstruction, which consists of three phases. First, political agents, like AOC, endure the erasure of agency through processes of abstraction. The referents (AOC), now vacated of their direct connections to their antecedent persons (Ocasio-Cortez), are then refitted as venues of largely inconsequential political ructions that avoid the substance of the agent’s protest. Consequently, these two processes obstruct substantive democratic discourse regarding the dissident’s concerns. Applied here, our abstruction analysis demonstrates how the term AOC is reappropriated as a site of pseudo-democratic contestations that obstruct the dissolution of the patriarchy.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper , a group of activists in a local Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) chapter as they navigate the challenges presented by planning, strategizing, and authoring legislation for a right to counsel initiative in their local context.
Abstract: This essay follows a group of activists in a local Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) chapter as they navigate the challenges presented by planning, strategizing, and authoring legislation for a right to counsel initiative in their local context. In this article, I argue that regular involvement in DSA encourages members to use a socialist analysis to understand local, national, and global problems, requiring an interdisciplinary and practical educational process in civic competency, socialist politics, and organizational strategies. I rely on data collected from 10 months of participant observation in a local DSA chapter in Boulder, Colorado from April 2019 to February 2020. I focus on the major political project assumed by Boulder DSA from 2018 to 2020, a right to counsel ballot initiative titled No Eviction Without Representation (NEWR). Developing this ballot initiative involved a multi-year effort that offered numerous educational opportunities for chapter members and leaders to engage with the local political context and promote specific forms of civic engagement directed at tangible social change. The NEWR ballot initiative illustrates the political possibilities of dedicated socialist organizers and demonstrates the value of the political network developed by DSA chapters throughout the country.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper , a quantitative content analysis of university e-mails sent to students leading up to the 2020 US presidential election was performed, with regard to existing scholarship, universities succeeded and failed at using effective messaging, and messaging varied across social environmental factors.
Abstract: The climate surrounding the 2020 US elections was tumultuous – from the hyperpartisan elections themselves, to a pandemic, to a national reckoning on race. Within this turmoil, many college students were casting their first vote. With the health of the nation on the line, figuratively and literally, what guidance did universities offer students in the run up to the election? This study addresses this question with a quantitative content analysis of university e-mails sent to students leading up to the election. Results revealed that, with regard to existing scholarship, universities succeeded and failed at using effective messaging, and messaging varied across social environmental factors. Universities play an influential role in students’ civic engagement, yet this study showed universities still have much to learn.