Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Richard Marback


This dissertation argues for a more inclusive definition of citizenship by suggesting that it is best understood as the ability and desire to work on public problems with others. In the Westphalian nation-state, citizenship is often understood to be a collection of legal and political rights determined and administered through institutions. These institutions fail to account for the desire of individuals to express convictions and work on problems that they experience locally. Our lived experience of citizenship exceeds the boundaries of institutions, but these actions are often dismissed as a result of the rhetoric used to talk about citizenship and public problems. The argument examines three examples - consumption, protest, and revolution - through the Keep Louisville Weird movement, the 1999 demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle, and the Arab Spring. Only by including acts such as these, not normally recognized as citizenship, can we construct a definition of citizenship that takes into account the lived experiences of citizens.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons