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Bordering Populism in Immigration Activism: Outlaw–Civic Discourse in a (Counter)Public

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This study involved a rhetorical ethnography and textual analyses of an anti-immigration group over a six month period. I argue the collective engaged in a deleterious form of bordering populism, in which communicators continually attack and praise the same targets. This populism was generated by outlaw–civic shifts between marginalized, outsider stances, and more official, general cultural logics. The group demonstrated a fragile, fracturing approach to a public issue, and local, vernacular practices that are employed to bridge pressures for agitative and integrative movement communication in a pluralistic, globalizing environment. Overall, each of the group's stark rhetorical shifts for and against the government, businesses, and immigrants concurrently crafted and dismantled rhetorical borders, creating an unstable (counter)public forgoing the possibility of democratic communication and community.
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Keywords: (Counter)Public; Bordering Populism; Immigration Activism; Multi-Methodological Rhetorical Criticism; Outlaw–Civic Discourse

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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