Blogs and dialogism in the 2008 United States presidential campaign

Date

5/30/2010

Authors

Johnson, Janet Lynn

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Abstract

Although presidential campaigns have always used technology to interact with the American electorate, recent developments in new media have raised the level of that interaction to an intensity and significance never seen before. In the 2008 Presidential Election, three major candidates struggled with these new media developments, but only one candidate—Barack Obama—tapped the full potential of new media to create a more dialogic and intimate experience with the electorate This dissertation offers a rhetorical analysis of the campaign blogs used by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain in 2008 to discover the rhetorical tools each candidate used to create dialogical interaction with readers during the election. This study concludes that Clinton and McCain fail to realize the full potential of new media, but Obama creates successful dialogical interaction by using a variety of rhetorical figures of speech that engender independent action among his supporters. As a result of his successful use of new media, Obama stood in a different relationship with the reader of his blogs than the other candidates. This study uses the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin and his concept of polyphony to explain the full significance of this new relationship and to suggest how key rhetorical figures of speech can foster independent action and support. As a result of this study, future candidates may be able to use new media more effectively in political communication.

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Keywords

Communication and the arts, Language, literature, and linguistics, Blogs, Dialogism, Political communication, Presidential campaign

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