Re-imagining community identity through articulation: a case study of two newspapers, a strike, and a community's negotiation of change
The work examines how rhetorical practices connect and overlap within circumstances of active negotiation of social, economic, and physical change. Specifically, it asks: can privileging of particularized knowledges, pervasive skepticism, and the individual petit recit of postmodernism co-exist with what James Mackin calls "communitarianism," or reliance on a system of social connections? This work argues that it can, and does, through the negotiation of community identity.;Using case study methodology as well as analysis and application of articulation theory, this work examines identifiable links across public practices. These practices illustrate the active process of community identity negotiation---what links occur, what power dynamics emerge in order for a "collective" to accept, albeit temporarily, some notion of "self.";While theory can be fascinating and useful in advancing our understanding of how a process works conceptually, the challenge often comes in its application. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz challenges researchers to "localize knowledge," or to examine the particular in order to better, more accurately "see." Therefore, this work analyzes the specific words, images, institutions, behaviors, and practices associated with identity negotiation in a particularized setting.;The case study focuses on a community responding to social and economic change and residents' resulting efforts to re-see the community's identity. Specifically it looks at the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, formerly the hotbed of the anthracite coal mining industry. Wilkes-Barre is one of only a handful of cities in the nation that still supports two competing, daily newspapers, and the case study looks at a newspaper strike in 1978 that resulted in the birth of its second daily newspaper. The Wilkes-Barre case looks at identity formation in response to change that emerged from several uncontrollable circumstances---the death of the industrial economic base of the area, the 1972 Agnes Flood, and population shifts, all of which occurred prior to the union strike at The Times Leader and the subsequent formation of its competitor, The Citizens' Voice. Addressing change often means re-articulating a sense of self. It is this process of re-articulation---and the rhetoric that surrounds the process---the dissertation maps.