Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Joel Iverson

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Sara Hayden

Commitee Members

Dr. Elizabeth Hubble


canceling, cancel culture, Twitter, social media, dominant ideology, resistance, discursive struggle, power, knowledge, Foucault, epistemic rhetoric


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Media


Canceling and #cancelculture have become the topic of many debates over free speech and accountability for oppressive behaviors in social media discourse. This thesis examines Twitter discourse from two recent racism-based cancel cases. Using Foss and Gill’s (1987) adapted epistemic rhetoric framework and emphasizing elements of Foucauldian surveillance and discipline in the discourse, I conduct a comparative qualitative examination of Gina Rodriguez’s and Chris Harrison’s cancel discourse. I contend that in the cancel process, Twitter users engage in surveillance to discipline one another on multiple levels: first, as cancelers use the practice to discipline oppressive behaviors on social media, and second as the anti-cancel group disciplines engagement in the #cancelculture. As Twitter users struggle to contend for power through discourse about each cancel case, members of the dominant culture invalidate canceling as a practice to maintain the status quo. Ethical and moral debates erupt over #cancelculture, directing the discourse away from a resistive tool to challenge dominant ideologies on social media. In the power struggle between pro- and anti-cancel groups, anti-cancel rhetoric tends to have more power to create knowledge and control discourse on Twitter. In each case study, the most significant knowledge produced is a negative connotation with #cancelculture and the impression that practicing canceling is not the “right” way to challenge harmful dominant ideology.



© Copyright 2022 Julia G. Bezio