Reader comments are an online communication format defined by their marginality relative to a primary news or blog article. To investigate their distinctive technical features and social dynamics, I studied large-scale discussions in response to articles about two stories: the death of Aaron Swartz, and the outing of Edward Snowden as the NSA leaker. Using frame analysis and drawing on Hannah Arendt’s theories of judgment and public action, I describe how the these comments by ordinary people give meaning to political action and define a space of political legitimacy.
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Thesis advisor: Feenberg, Andrew
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