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My purpose for this dissertation is to develop an analytic informed by Sense-Making's communication-as-procedure framework in order to amplify theoretical understanding of dialogic activity within electronic public spheres that connects agency to structure. I suggest that current theory based upon Habermas' theories of communicative action and the public sphere may be too limited for describing grounded communicative practice within online environments. Rather, I posit that the nouns of electronic public spheres can be reconceptualized as verbs, resulting in the development of communicative theory focusing on grounded human practice within CMC environments. To this end, I analyzed 1,360 postings contributed to three pedagogical online discussion groups by 124 participants in 1999 and 2000. Using a customized communication-as-procedure coding template, I coded each posting for the presence of eleven verbings: nine predictors (emotings, situatings, self-growings, engagings, perspectivings, empathyings, generalizings, reflectings, and conscientizings) and two criterions (consensusings and dissensusings). Through factor analysis, these predictors loaded on four factors: Selfings, Otherings, Societyings, and Actings. Among the major findings, Otherings demonstrated a strong conjoint relationship with consensusings/dissensusings; postings that included Otherings featured very high percentages of consensusings/dissensusings (86.4%), while postings that did not include Otherings featured very low levels of consensusings/dissensusings (2%). The other three factors—Selfings, Societyings, and Actings—demonstrated almost no relationship with the consensusing/dissensusing outcomes. Second, based upon qualitative analysis exploring subthemes within the postings, I suggest that two communicative modes were operating within the electronic public spheres: (a) a contemplative mode in which participants focused primarily upon their own life struggles, self-learnings, and actings to change social structures, and (b) a dialogic mode, where participants primarily engaged other participants through supportive, confrontational, and consensual/dissensual communicative practices. In particular, contemplative postings appeared to create dialogic spaces that allowed participants to offer their own thoughts/musings/ideas into the public spheres relatively free from consensual/dissensual structural forces. I conclude that electronic public sphere theory should be reconceptualized to take both modes into account.


Adviser: Brenda Dervin. Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Ohio State University, 2001. Electronic reproduction.Ann Arbor, MI :ProQuest Information and Learning Company,2003.System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.Available via World Wide Web.Digital version of: Dynamics of electronic public spheres : verbing online participation.

Book Details

  • Language: eng
  • Physical Description: 275 p.


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