Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

The Terms of Engagement: Rhetorical Constructions of Citizenship in the Networked Public Sphere

Darrel Farmer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation project focuses on how the terms surrounding civic engagement are changing with a transition to the networked public sphere. I analyze how the rhetorical construction of engagement in networked communities is opening up space for deliberative rhetoric. The texts for analysis are two campaigns from the Harry Potter Alliance that are targeted at ending the genocide in Darfur and fighting against illiteracy. In order to better understand the changing rhetorical construction of civic engagement, I trace the traditional view of the concept through time and compare them against the terms being advanced in the case studies. I utilize cluster analysis and social semiotics to categorize and filter the language being used by the networked public of the Harry Potter Alliance. Each of the case studies validated the hypothesis that the terms of engagement are changing, altering the deliberative landscape to allow for more engagement to occur over a geographically separated space. Engagement is framed in ways that make getting involved easier and present civic issues as less monolithic. I conclude that the networked public sphere is offering novel opportunities for civic engagement capable of responding to problems rather than simply constricting public participation.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Farmer, Darrel, "The Terms of Engagement: Rhetorical Constructions of Citizenship in the Networked Public Sphere" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI3689625.