This research seeks to understand how activists are encouraging audiences to identify with their work in digital spaces through a case study of Beyonce Knowles-Carter's activism. The current scholarship surrounding digital activism is extensive and has offered a detailed look at individual tools used in activist movements, but there is a lack of research that recognizes the complex network of tools that are often used by an activist or activist group. To address this gap in the research, this thesis offers an analysis of three specific activist tools used by Beyonce to encourage her fans and other audiences to identify with and participate in her activism. This study investigates the methods Beyonce employs to get her multiple audiences informed and engaged through an analysis of her activist blog, the "Formation" music video, and her live performance during the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to assess, from a rhetorical standpoint, how Beyonce is inviting her audiences to respond and become engaged. The analysis of these three activist tools utilizes qualitative data analysis, focusing on Burke's (1969) concept of rhetorical identification to understand how her activist messages are presented across mediums. To expand on the findings of this analysis, a reception study on Beyonce's "Formation" music video and 2016 Super Bowl performance was conducted to gauge the success of her rhetorical methods. The findings of this study recognize the need to continue looking at the multiple tools used by activists to understand the complexity of their rhetorical work online. This study also provides methods for analyzing the intertextual nature of digital activism so that further research can be done. While this study begins to address the gap in the current scholarship, more research needs to be done to study the current rhetorical practices of digital activists.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Writing and Rhetoric
English; Rhetoric and Composition
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arban, Garrett, "Ok, Ladies, Now Let's Get Information: Recognizing Moments of Rhetorical Identification in Beyonce's Digital Activism" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5438.