Review of What Democracy Looks Like: The Rhetoric of Social Movements and Counterpublics

This collection of essays challenges conventional frameworks of social movements and counterpublics. By putting the two fields of rhetoric and communications in conversation with one another around the topic of social change, Foust, Pason, and Zittlow Rogness expand the potential for academic study of the interconnection between movements and counterpublics. Typically, communication scholars have attended to movements, while rhetoric scholars labor with meanings of publics and counterpublics. This collection, What Democracy Looks Like, successfully bridges a research gap between the two fields to demonstrate why, how, and to what extent movements and counterpublics work together to affect social change. This collection is easily accessible to the new scholar and yet still compelling to the experienced social movement veteran.

The editors construct easy movement within the collection as readers encounter creative and forward-thinking themes that remain grounded in historical scholarship. One common thread running throughout the essays is the idea of flexibility and fluidity between movements and counterpublics as the book progresses through three clearly focused sections: problematizing the past research of social movements and counterpublics, distinguishing counterpublics and movements through case studies, and looking at new directions of rhetorical studies within these contexts. Another emerging theme is globalization and its impact on counterpublic theory as each section provides at least one article addressing social change in a non-Western context.

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What Democracy Looks Like: The Rhetoric of Social Movements and Counterpublics. Edited by Christina R. Foust, Amy Pason, and Kate Zittlow Rogness. University of Alabama Press, 2017. $34.95, ISBN-13: 978-0817358938.

About the author

Jennifer Keizer is currently pursuing her M.A. in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio, with specific focus in the areas of Rhetoric and Composition and Linguistics. As a Teaching Assistant II, she is an instructor of Freshman Composition in UTSA’s Writing Program. Jennifer is an Army Veteran and holds a B.A. in English and Spanish from South Dakota State University.