The Radical Potential of Public Hearings: A Rhetorical Assessment of Resistance and Indecorous Voice in Public Participation Processes

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2016-01-01
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Hunt, Kathleen
Paliewicz, Nicholas
Endres, Danielle
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Iowa State University Summer Symposium on Science Communication
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Science Communication Project @ISU was founded in 2010 with the goal of enhancing collaborative research on, education for, and the practice of public science communication, broadly conceived. Our biennial symposia- which include public presentations of multidisciplinary research and interactive workshops- bring together a network of scholars who share interests in public engagement of science, environmental communication, natural resource management, and agriscience. Conference proceedings showcase research, evaluations, and critiques of science communication-related practices and phenomena.

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Little scholarship in environmental communication has considered the intersections between public participation and social movement. We fill this gap by discussing how public participation process can become sites of radical politics when publics employ disruptive or improper tactics, known as indecorous voice. Indecorum can be used to sustain protest matters beyond official forums, engage multiple audiences, and forge new identities among publics. We demonstrate the utility of indecorum through two case studies: Love Canal, NY where residents combat exposure to toxic chemicals, and Salt Lake City, UT, where publics challenge industrial expansion in a fight for clean air.

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