Public Spheres of Influence and the Effects of the Alt-Right: A Qualitative Study of Conservative Counter Spheres Through Representative Media Outlets
Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)
Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Arts in Communication
Seth Ashley, Ph.D.
Julie Lane, Ph.D.
Rulon Wood, Ph.D.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Contemporary understanding of Habermasian public spheres of influence points to a conglomeration of competing counter-spheres all vying for hegemonic control. The interaction of these spheres creates dynamic and shifting landscapes through which individuals and news media outlets maneuver. One of the larger influential groups in the United States is the establishment conservative counter-sphere, but recent political developments have given rise to a new counter-sphere, one that is increasingly racist and violent. The alt-right has grown in its political influence since the 2016 presidential election and its presence is likely having an effect on larger, more established groupings as it vies for control with surrounding groups. Understanding how these spheres affect each other helps map the spread of ideas and power through intergroup information sharing. Often, this information is disseminated through media outlets, so in order to best map this exchange, proxies for these two spheres were selected. Fox News functions as a representative for the establishment counter-sphere, and Breitbart represents the alt-right. By framing their interactions via intermedia agenda setting theory and comparing the results using ethnographic content analysis, unique frames and values were uncovered. Both outlets frame articles around liberal bias, presidential success, and dangerous others, which keys in an overarching value of in-group preservation. This study concludes by connecting these findings to historical American conservative media outlets, as well as contextualizing the results within each respective counter-sphere.
Yeates, Luke, "Public Spheres of Influence and the Effects of the Alt-Right: A Qualitative Study of Conservative Counter Spheres Through Representative Media Outlets" (2019). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 1602.