Narratives, networks, and publics

Authored by: Ann Mische , Matthew J. Chandler

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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Publics are communicatively constructed spaces located between more segmented settings that are informed both by the cultural texts that circulate through them and by the relational contexts in which they are embedded. In these interstices, people can engage in the exercise of building common ground and joint projects with those who might have very different positions, perspectives, and interests. But in order to serve as buffering zones for conflicting identities and interests (and associated power differentials), they require selective representation and performance of the multiple identities and relations that are “carried in” by individual participants. In particular, this chapter argues that the constitution and durability of publics hinge on the joint suppression, and not just the expression, of diverging identities. Thus these sites are often fraught, precarious, and in need of continual renewal and repair. The chapter outlines suggestions for making these dynamics – along their sources in and repercussions through broader networks – visible to the analyst. The strategy is, in essence, to track network embeddings, narrative engagement, and interactional contingencies as public dynamics play out over time.

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