We Are Patriots: National Identity Discourse in the Tea Party Movement and an Echoing Press
Di Cicco, Damon Timothy
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This dissertation explored the communicative means through which a social movement might connect its identity and goals with the national identity. It focused on invocations of the nation by Tea Party activists and in news depictions of the movement. I analyzed (1) how individual Tea Party members thought about the movement, (2) how the discourse of the Tea Party was presented to the public via high-profile events, and (3) how news media depicted foundational Tea Party events. Methodologically, the project combined in-depth qualitative interviews, participant observations, and a quantitative content analysis. Taken together, the findings suggest that the discourse of the Tea Party was shot-through with a variety of nation-invoking messages that constructed the movement as being of, by, and for America and its people, and that such messages were also highlighted in journalistic coverage, sometimes displacing more critical styles. By studying this domain of political communication, I sought to understand a relatively unexplored phenomenon in the field of communication--the discourse of conservative protest--and to shed light on the ways that social movement discourse might be related to news content. The work presented here has implications for both public activism and the practice of journalism, and thus how future social movements might engage with news media.
- Communications