Understanding the Dialectic of Discourse and Collective Action: Public Debate and Rioting in Antebellum Cincinnati
Type of Work
American Journal of Sociology
This analysis of the public debate and riots about abolitionism in antebellum Cincinnati uses constructivist approaches to demonstrate how discourse makes some forms of action possible and legitimate and, conversely, how collective action transforms the meaning and structure of discourse. Two incidents of mob violence in Cincinnati interrupted the discursive struggle over abolitionism, undermining some diagnoses and solutions while making others more compelling. Speakers incorporated the events into their discourses, thus creating new definitions of the situation and new means to resolve the problems it raised, abandoning or reworking discredited arguments, and reframing the issues in the debate. The conclusion discussed this study's implications for understanding the dialectical relationship between cultural representation and social action.
Ellingson, Stephen, "Understanding the Dialectic of Discourse and Collective Action: Public Debate and Rioting in Antebellum Cincinnati" (1995). Hamilton Digital Commons.
Hamilton Areas of Study