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Exploring the Shifting Contours of Communication


Edited By Patricia Moy and Donald Matheson

This edited volume on voices arose from the 2018 International Communication Association conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The contributions examine the conference’s central theme from multiple epistemological approaches, a host of methodologies, and numerous levels of analysis. They reveal how studying voice—or the plurality of voices—illuminates the process by which it is fostered and/or constrained as well as the conditions under which it is expressed and/or stifled. More important, the study of voice sheds light on the process by which it impacts behaviors, defines relationships, influences policies, and shapes the world in which we live. In other words, studies of voice are not relegated to a few domains, but interface with myriad discourses, actors, processes, and outcomes.

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11. Image Repair and Judging a Politician’s Racially Insensitive Statements: Does Gender Matter? (María E. Len-Ríos / Hyoyeun Jun / Earnest L. Perry, Jr.)


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11. Image Repair and Judging a Politician’s Racially Insensitive Statements: Does Gender Matter?


During political campaigns, journalists and constituents ask politicians to address all kinds of issues in press interviews, at public campaign rallies, and now via social media. Race relations is often a topic in political discussions, yet it is often perceived as a tricky, no-win topic for politicians to address. Campaign staff who manage a candidate’s public relations must advise candidates on how to engage in discussion of such issues when these topics arise—determining what candidates should say, to whom they should say it, and under which circumstances they should share it. This study examines the former—“what candidates should say”—by gauging reactions to a female politician’s message responses in the context of Twitter.

This examination of candidate discourse, using an individual political case, not only focuses on the face-saving of the political rhetor, but also reflects and contributes symbolically to setting boundaries for national values. As Towner’s (2009) meta-analysis of image repair discourse revealed, part of what rhetors must confront is whether their behavior involves “fracturing the values that bind society together” (442). An audience’s acceptance of behavior traditionally deemed inappropriate not only impacts that particular case, but also has the potential to create a cumulative effect of shifting what is deemed suitable by society. Thus, while rhetors are engaged...

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