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Specialized Online Publics and Rhetorical Ecologies: A Study of Civic Engagement in Natural Resource Management
Kowalewski, Scott Jacob
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This dissertation examines the public writing and civic engagement of an online community of a sportsmen forum, as the writing and engagement relate to natural resources management. Drawing from theories of public discourse and public rhetoric, this dissertation argues the sportsmen forum represents a specialized online public"publics that are constituted in digital spaces around shared interests and the circulation of texts and (vernacular) discourses, while existing in rhetorical ecologies. This dissertation argues sportsmen and sportswomen are an overlooked public within the field of Rhetoric and Writing. Not only are sportspersons stakeholders in natural resources issues, but they also represent primary reader-users of natural resource policy, making them a public of interest for rhetoric and writing scholars in areas such as public rhetoric, digital rhetoric, and technical communication. Beginning in the digital archives of the sportsmen forum, the dissertation isolates two case studies, each focusing on a current natural resource issue: deer management and feral swine management. The deer management case study represents the ways in which specialized online publics operate within rhetorical ecologies, while also exposing a space where these publics might make a greater impact in management practices through the formation of hybrid publics. Illustrating how hybrid publics might operate, the feral swine case study, examines collaboration between wildlife managers and sportspersons in the digital space of an online forum. Following the case studies, the dissertation concludes with a discussion of the scholarly and pedagogical implications of specialized online publics.
- Doctoral Dissertations