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Citizen Rage: Town Hall Meetings and Constituent Disagreement in American Politics


for Members

Citizen Rage: Town Hall Meetings and Constituent Disagreement in American Politics

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wenner-Gren Foundation

Presented By

Presented by the Anthropology Section


This presentation explores the various incarnations of the public sphere in Town Hall meetings conducted across the United States, including several conducted in Tucson, Arizona, where I have been collecting data on the political public sphere since 2000–2001. I focus on conflict talk, and examine several ways in which political figures handle public conflict and/or confrontations with constituents. Here I examine as a mini-corpus three different instances of naturally-occurring conflict-talk: one from a demonstration in Tucson, Arizona during a Town Hall meeting in 2000 by then-congressman Jim Kolbe, the predecessor to Gabrielle Giffords’ seat; one from a public meeting held in 2001 by Rudolph Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, with public transportation workers; and finally a town hall meeting held by Congresswoman Giffords in Sierra Vista, Arizona in 2009. I note the interactional dynamics and shape of disagreements as issued by constituents and pay close attention to the responses of politicians in handling confrontation. Interactional management in these instances includes not only the issuing of speech routines such as "calm down," (paradoxically further inflaming recipients) but also other aspects of the management of face-to-face interaction such as gaze withdrawal and gestural ambiguity.

A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm.


Norma Mendoza-Denton

University of Arizona

Jeff Maskovsky

CUNY Graduate Center & Queens College

Registration Pricing

This meeting is free, but you will need to register in advance.

Travel & Lodging

Meeting Location

The Wenner-Gren Foundation

470 Park Avenue South, between 31st and 32nd Streets
8th Floor
New York, NY 10016