Article Title

Understanding the Dialectic of Discourse and Collective Action: Public Debate and Rioting in Antebellum Cincinnati

Type of Work

Article

Date

1995

Journal Title

American Journal of Sociology

Journal ISSN

0002-9602

Journal Volume

101

Journal Issue

1

First Page

100

Last Page

144

DOI

10.1086/230700

Abstract

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.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Sociology

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