Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

1-2021

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Communication

Degree Program

Communication, MA

Committee Chair

Paliewicz, Nick

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Coker, Calvin

Committee Member

Coker, Calvin

Committee Member

McHendry, Guy

Author's Keywords

Public; sphere; parasite; Neoliberalism

Abstract

This thesis examines the media corporation PragerU as a parasite public, using the framework provided by Larson and McHendry (2019). Parasitic publics are “reactionary discursive spaces formed residual and institutionalized affectively through the invention, circulation and uptake of demagogic rhetorics” (Larson & McHendry, 2019, p. 517). The purpose of this thesis is to identify and analyze the argumentative tactics used by PragerU in the public sphere. I argue that PragerU utilizes its extensive network to resist counterpublicity and influence the dominant public sphere. This thesis demonstrates the ways in which this PragerU utilizes its unique position in the public sphere to open new discursive areas and inject their political ideologies that drive hardline partisanship. The main tactic that this thesis focuses on is the use of the demagogic strategy of victimhood to persuade its viewers into believing its messages. Through victimization PragerU operates in a parasitic fashion to influence the dominate public sphere and resist counter publics. The arguments that PragerU deploys do not follow traditional structures for argumentation, but instead rely on affective appeals to persuade and influence its audience.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons

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