Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Guillermo Grenier

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Chris Girard

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Ulrich Oslender

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Alexandra Cornelius

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Social movement, Conservative, Right-wing, Collective action, Segregation, Racism, White supremacist ideology, Citizens’ Councils, Frames, Propaganda

Date of Defense



In the early Cold War decades, the Citizens’ Councils of America (CCA) became the flagship conservative right-wing social movement organization (SMO). As part of its organizational activities, it engaged in a highly sophisticated propaganda effort to mobilize pro-segregationist opinion, merging traditional racist arguments with modern Cold War geopolitics to characterize civil rights activism and federal civil rights reforms as an effort to bring about a tyrannical, Soviet-inspired, dictatorship. Through a content discourse analysis, this research aims to contribute to understanding what factors determine how SMO’s deploy propaganda rhetoric. The main hypothesis is that geopolitical factors, defined here as specific geographic contexts in which sociopolitical issues are situated and from which propaganda rhetoric is deployed, are influential determinants. Since SMO rhetoric reflects its larger ideological orientation, SMO ideology is also influenced by geopolitical factors. For comparative analysis, propaganda literature from the Ku Klux Klan, as well as elite segregationist rhetoric from the same period is included. Relying on frame theory all rhetoric is quantitatively analyzed centering on the question of what factors drive SMO frame messaging. To contribute to frame theory a concept is proposed called frame constellation, which is a web of SMO frame rhetoric and symbolism that functions as an overlapping, intersecting and interrelated system of ideas which revolve around a central intellectual logic for collective action.





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