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Public discourse, political legitimacy, and collective identity: Cases from Iraq, Brazil and China

  • Max Hänska , Ahmed Bahiya , Fernanda Amaral and Yu Sui
From the journal Communications


Through the examination of recent developments in Iraq, Brazil and China, this paper explores the role of public communication in a) generating, corralling, and buttressing political legitimacy, and b) negotiating, demarcating, and reproducing collective identities. The transformation of Iraq’s public sphere after the fall of the Ba’ath regime saw it shift from a tightly controlled and unified communication space to unencumbered yet fragmented spheres split along ethno-sectarian lines, buttressing sectarian politics and identities. The emergence of subaltern publics in Brazil’s favelas empowered residents to express public dissent, assert their voice, and develop pride in their community. Chinese efforts to control online public discourse provide the government with ways of managing its perceived legitimacy and foster patriotic fellowship online. Legitimation and the affirmation of identity interact and support one another in public discourse, as we illustrate.


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Published Online: 2020-02-20
Published in Print: 2020-11-18

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