Populism in Net Neutrality Speeches: An American Way of Populism

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Michelle Kjær Hæstrup
This thesis started with a consideration: If populism have become a way of rhetoric in American populism as is claimed in The Populist Persuasion; An American History by Michael Kazin, how have that effected the debates. To find an answer to this, it was necessary to find a specific debate to focus on, and make sure it was a contempoary debate, where the answer gained, would actually be true in the modern world. This led to the choice of the debate around Net Neutrality, this is a big area, and one with a lot of attention. Which have led to a lot of sources on this area.
With the focus decided, it was necesarry to find the problem, and what it was this thesis wanted to contribute with. Therefore the focus of the thesis, is on the two different sides of debate uses the same populistic key elements to further their arguments.
The thesis will take you through a brief examination of how populism have looked through history, and how it have looked especially in America, here there will also be a short explenation of how the development of Net Neutrality have looked. The thesis will include a definition of populism, and an explenation of some of the many faces populism have had through the times, and how many different ways populism can be explained. The analysis will be following faircloughs critical discourse analysis (CDA) model, there will be an discussion of why this model have been chosen and some of the dangers there is when conducting a CDA. And will have a textual analysis, processing and social analysis. Together with the 5 key elements it is beieved it will give the best idea of the arguments used and the similarities and differences. The key elements are:
1. Emphasizing the sovereignty of the people
2. Advocating for the people
3. Attacking the elites
4. Ostracizing others
5. Invoking the heartland
The analysis will be structered using the 5 key element from populism, and it quickly becomes apparent that the opponents of Net Neutrality sees the sovereignty of the people, as having a large array of choices for the internet. There way of advocating for the people is mostly economic. When they attack the elite, the focus is on the previous government that implemented Net Neutrality. The others they ostrasice are other countries America does not wish to be compared with and their idea of a heartland is the time before Net Neutrality.
The supporters of Net Neutrality tend to focus on the fact that the sovereignty was taken from the people, when Net Neutrality was removed, wihtout listening to what the public wanted. They claim, that the people want Net Neutrality restored, and this is what they will give them. This will result in better economy in the area, and also a more secure internet for the people. The elite that the supporters attack, is mostly the people who removed Net Neutrality, but also the corporations that they believe will benefit from the situation. They ostracize Russia for having interfered with America with fake email adresses, and the heartland they mention is the American dream, where freedom is important.
The findings in the analysis will be compared, and it becomes clear that while they use the same 5 key elements, they use them in different ways. Sometimes they end up concluding the same, and others they conclude completley different.
Publication date30 May 2019
Number of pages62
ID: 304770989