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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Marlin C. Bates

First Committee Member

Qingwen Dong

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


This thesis analyzes the ideologies present the campaign rhetoric surrounding the 2008 California legislative initiative Proposition·8. Using Foss' method of ideological criticism the campaign is read prior after the opposition response to determine if an ideological shift occurs. The study is framed to identify this shift as a potential product of oppositional interaction, a characteristic of rhetoric defined by Smith and Windes.

The study concludes that the shift in ideology during the campaign by the supporters of Proposition 8 was a significant development. The response from the Proposition 8 campaign reframed the debate, making the electorate vulnerable to a different ideology. This new ideology places the state education apparatus, not the courts, in the spotlight as the state mechanism that is in dispute in the marriage controversy. When placed in .this context, theories of political economy are employed to explain how the electorate may have interpreted these arguments.

One. explanation offered is that the response ideology of the Proposition 8 campaign allowed voters to vote to outlaw gay marriages as a proactive response to a mistrust of education. The discussion section indicates that this could be an adjustment to existing ideologies, or development of an issues specific ideology that is only relevant for one issue in the mind of the individual. Ultimately, this study demonstrated the utility of ideology as a method to analyze political rhetoric and examines the role that oppositional interaction plays in the long-term development of public dialectic.



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