Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Concientization among People in Support and Opposition of President Trump

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Concientization among People in Support and Opposition of President Trump

Article excerpt

Introduction

The value of civic engagement can be seen as greater levels of participation in civic engagement increasing the chances for society to reflect the values of its citizens because there will be less of a disconnect between citizens and those elected to represent them (Coleman & Gotze, 2001). However, over a 25-year span, civic engagement has been decreasing at a rate of 9% in America (Montgomery, Gottlieb-Robles, & Larson, 2004). This trend of disengagement has changed course due to the election of President Donald J. Trump, which has catalysed Americans and people living abroad to engage in Social Action. Examples of Social Action associated with the election of President Trump are the Women's March and the March for Science. In part, these movements owe their existence to the common perception that the President is disrespectful toward women and his statements regarding the science behind climate change and environmental policies not favorable to energy-related industries. People are awakening from their state of apathy because the President is forcing them into a state of Dissonance (Festinger, 1957) by creating fundamental contradictions between their internal views of the world (e.g., women should be treated with respect and government should work to protect the environment) and what is actually taking place. With so many people struggling with the new realities introduced by Trump's presidency it begs the question, why did Americans elect Donald Trump in the first place?

The reasons Donald Trump was elected require further elucidation beyond existing interviews and exit polls because many instances of racism and anti-Semitism have surfaced since the election which threaten to disenfranchise large numbers of Americans. An examination of the statements made by people who support and oppose President Trump via the social medias site, Twitter, provides a unique opportunity to understand the identities of people on both sides and how they are exercising their freedom of speech in service of their digital citizenship. Twitter is an appropriate venue for this study because confidence in traditional methods of civic engagement is quite low (Coleman & Gotze, 2001) which ultimately drives people toward social media like Twitter to make their voices heard (Bonilla & Rosa, 2015). In addition, the combination of using Twitter and being an opinion leader on a given political topic has been found to significantly increase the chances of an individual increasing their civic engagement (Park, 2013). America currently stands as a house divided and the roots of these divisions must be identified in order to productively move forward as a nation.

Literature review

Imagined communities

Anderson (2006) developed the concept of Imagined Communities to describe nationalism as a sense of commonality regarding love for country regardless of the absence of direct intercourse among members. He provides the following definition: "It is an imagined political community--and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion" (p. 5-6). He continues saying the nationalistic community is developed and maintained by participation in common activities. The idea that communities of people form based on interests, especially political interests, is important to this study because people who support and oppose President Trump are a subset of nationalists. These individuals will likely never meet (outside of Twitter) yet they all share similar views regarding the President and what they should or should not do to assert their views. Members of Imagined Communities form their identities based on prevailing stereotypes that exist within groups but also according to a person's interpretation of how their actions are perceived by group members. …

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