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Title page for ETD etd-03242009-154136

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Swift, Dylan Joseph
Author's Email Address dylan.j.swift@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03242009-154136
Title A grounded theory approach to analyzing political narratives
Degree Master of Science
Department Community Research and Action
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Paul R. Dokecki Committee Chair
Paul W. Speer Committee Member
  • religion
  • morality
  • beliefs
  • core beliefs
  • values
  • affect
  • motivated reasoning
  • politics
  • emotions
  • narrative
Date of Defense 2009-03-24
Availability unrestricted
Much ink has been spilled over the question of whether or not there is a “culture war” going on in the United States between religious conservatives and liberals (Hunter, 1991). This thesis examines the possibility of cultural war through an in-depth investigation of how morality and values affect people’s larger political narratives. Specifically, I use the grounded theory method (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) to develop a theoretical model of how political narratives form and develop. From this analysis, I found that beliefs, values, and emotional sentiments are the three super-ordinate categories from which political narratives take shape.

First, I show how these categories, taken together, are the basic building blocks of a person’s political narrative at any given time. Second, I show how these categories interact with a person’s context to lead to the development of a political narrative across time. After examining the importance of beliefs, values, and emotional sentiments in the general case, I explore two political narratives in extensive detail. Through this exploration I show how these categories combine to create political narrative in specific instances. Finally, I use the information learned through this analysis to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of two prominent theoretical accounts of morality and politics and morality, one offered by Jonathan Haidt (2007), the other by George Lakoff (2002).

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